HP Mini 210-3000sa review
Finished in metallic charcoal, the HP Mini 210-3000sa exudes more style than many other netbook models. However, while well put together and more solidly built than some netbook rivals, it’s clearly aimed more at consumers than at schools.
The specification is fairly typical for netbooks in this price band, with a dual-core Atom N570 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive. The 0.21 benchmark score proves it can cope with most classroom jobs. It has a good range of connections, adding Bluetooth to the usual line-up of three USB 2 ports, 802.11n Wi-Fi and 10/100 Ethernet.
The bright 10.1in LED-backlit display ensures that photographs and web pages look gorgeous, but while the gloss coasting helps boost contrast, it can be harder to read in bright conditions than some of the matte screens found on other models. You may also find yourself having to constantly wipe fingerprints from the screen and surround.
HP seems keen to shout about the sound system. Branded as Beats Audio, with the insignia everywhere you look, the small speakers are a class above the tinny speakers found in many netbooks. They produce clear audio with a hint of real bass.
The HP’s keyboard, 93% the size of a regular one, is also pleasant to use. The island-style keys are reminiscent of Apple’s MacBook range, and have a good, crisp feel. The trackpad has a nice tactility to it, too, although the buttons are mounted into the lip of the case and can be accidentally triggered by the wrist when typing. Unlike some netbooks, it’s a comfortable companion for working over prolonged periods.
Schools interested in upgrading their netbooks should pay close attention. The baseplate is removable at a flick of a switch, providing easy access to the RAM, hard drive and other components. The battery also seemed to last and last, if falling slightly short of the 9hrs 32mins that HP claims.
The HP Mini has plenty going for it. With solid build quality, excellent battery life and a good screen and keyboard, it’s a great all-rounder. And if you’ve been put off HP products by stories that it would be selling its PC division, don’t be: the company has now confirmed that PCs remain a key part of its business.