HP Compaq Mini 700 review
HP’s first netbook, the 2133 Mini-Note, was a cruel disappointment. Its gorgeous chassis, fantastic screen and neat keyboard were let down by a misjudged combination of a sluggish VIA C7M processor and the use of Windows Vista and SUSE’s Linux Enterprise.
It comes as some consolation then that the HP Compaq Mini 700 addresses both those complaints right from the off. VIA’s processor has been supplanted by Intel’s Atom and partnered with Microsoft’s far more netbook-friendly OS, XP Home.
Grab a hold of the Mini 700 and there are undeniable echoes of its predecessor’s good looks. Finished in jet black, it boasts a slim but perfectly formed figure that rival netbooks would kill for.
The glossy lid contrasts nicely with the matte interior, and the wide, dimpled-chrome hinge looks gorgeous and serves to house the Mini 700’s speakers. Everything from the power button to the glossy edge-to-edge display shows an attention to detail that eludes most, if not all of the competition.
That fine figure is matched by a weight of 1.15kg and petite dimensions of just 261 x 167 x 25mm. It all looks and feels terribly impressive, until you notice that this all comes at the expense of something vital: battery life.
As a result of the tiny battery on the Mini 700’s underside, our light usage test found the HP running empty after just 3hrs 18mins. Admittedly, some consolation comes in an intense-use score of 2hrs 27mins, which suggests you’ll get around 3hrs of life out of the Compaq whatever you do with it.
Plus, HP confirmed that a six-cell battery will be available as an optional extra, but at the time of writing could offer no pricing estimates.
Look to the HP Compaq’s specifications and, while they’re largely an improvement on that of the 2133 Mini-Note, there’s little to get excited about. An Intel Atom N270 and a single gigabyte of RAM sidle up alongside a paltry 60GB hard disk, and Intel’s GMA 950 graphics round off the package. Performance, as you’d expect, is on a par with the rest of the Atom-powered competition, racking up 0.40 in our benchmarks.
Wireless connectivity is par for the course too, with 802.11bg and Bluetooth 2.1 complemented by a 10/100 Ethernet socket for when you’re within reach of a wired network.
One thing we’d like to have seen the back of is the 2133’s trackpad, but unfortunately it rears its head again. With a wide, squat profile and buttons shifted to either side, it’s not particularly comfortable to use. We found our palms tapping the buttons accidentally whilst typing, but thankfully HP spared our already thinning patience by placing a button just above to toggle it on and off as required.
And the keyboard makes amends. The wide, square keys have a positive action and comfy feel under the finger, and the layout is excellent. A sensible-sized Enter key, full-width right Shift key and no bizarre layout choices – Samsung NC20, take note – all combine to make the Mini 700’s the best netbook keyboard we’ve encountered.
It’s all the more stupefying then that HP has tinkered with the other advantage the 2133 held over the competition. In place of that netbook’s high-resolution 1,280 x 768 pixel display, the Mini 700 opts for a 10.2in 1,024 x 600 alternative.
It might be what so many other netbooks settle for, but based on past attempts we had expected better. The image quality is nothing to write home about either: the muted colour reproduction and poor contrast leave images looking washed out, despite the glossy finish. In its favour, though, there’s no sign of graininess that you get with the very cheapest screens.
|Warranty||1yr collect and return|
|Dimensions||261 x 167 x 25mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Atom N270|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,024|
|Resolution screen vertical||600|
|Resolution||1024 x 600|
|Graphics chipset||Intel GMA 950|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Optical disc technology||N/A|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||no|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Speaker location||Above keyboard|
|Camera megapixel rating||0.3MP|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||198|
|Battery life, heavy use||147|
|Overall application benchmark score||0.40|
|Office application benchmark score||0.52|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||0.31|
|Encoding application benchmark score||0.37|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||0.40|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||Fail|
|3D performance setting||N/A|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows XP Home|
|OS family||Windows XP|