HP Compaq Mini 700 review

£279
Price when reviewed

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

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 261 x 167 x 25mm (WDH)
Weight 1.150kg
Travelling weight 1.5kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N270
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR2

Screen and video

Screen size 10.2in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 950
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 60GB
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive N/A
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support no
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel 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
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Speaker location Above keyboard
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3MP
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

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

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