Sunday, 17 May 2009

Notebook Review Spec : Toshiba Portege A605 Review

BY: Kevin, Editor

The Toshiba Portege A605 is a 12.1" ultra-portable notebook designed for business travelers who want something small and lightweight, but don’t want to make any compromises when it comes to features. The A600 series notebooks offer an on-board optical drive so users can enjoy movies or install applications on the road, eSATA to expand storage, and a power saving Intel Centrino 2 platform to squeeze out as much battery life as possible. In this review we find out how well the A605 stands up to the rigors of day-to-day use, and if it is worth purchasing this notebook over a netbook or other ultra-portable notebooks.

Toshiba Portege A605-P210 Specifications:

  • Processor: 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 (800MHz FSB, 3MB Cache)
  • Graphics: Intel X4500 Integrated Graphics
  • Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium with SP 1 (32-bit)
  • Screen: 12.1" diagonal WXGA LED-Backlit Display (1280x800)
  • Memory: 3GB PC6400 DDR2 (1GB onboard, 2GB in slot, 5GB Max)
  • Storage: 320GB Hitachi SATA HDD (5400rpm)
  • Optical Drive: LabelFlash SuperMulti 8X DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support
  • Intel 5100AGN WLAN with Bluetooth 2.1 w/ EDR
  • Power: 6-cell Li-Ion 5800mAh battery, 45W AC adapter
  • Dimensions: 11.3" x 8.8" x 1.2"
  • Weight: 3lbs 1.8oz (3lbs 11.9oz travel weight)
  • Warranty: 1-year
  • Price as configured: $1,399.99

Build and Design
The Portege looks very classy for a business notebook, with glossy piano black keyboard bezel and screen cover along with a matte silver base. The port and button layout appears to be very well thought out with effort put into things as simple as the power and activity indicators. The silver keyboard contrasts the black finish, with a nice matte finish with black lettering that is easy to read.

Build quality is hit or miss depending on what part of the notebook you are looking at. The quality of the finish is excellent, with a thick layer of glossy black paint that appears to be scratch resistant. On the flip side, the plastic used to construct the notebook suffers from abnormal amounts of flex--a side effect of its lightweight construction. The palm rest and lower half of the case flex inward when you grip the notebook to carry it around, and even resting your palms on the palm rest makes them bend in slightly. The screen cover shows similar flex and when gripped firmly makes the display show signs of color distortion around the edges and center. The screen itself also has some issues in how it is mounted, showing a pressure spot in the bottom corner that "flashes" when the screen jiggles on your lap or desk surface.

Upgrading the components on the A605 is more difficult that the average notebook, with half of the RAM soldered to the motherboard and no access panel for the hard drive. While most business users probably won’t be modifying company issued hardware, regular users who buy this notebook might be upset.

The 12.1" display is average compared to other business ultra-portable notebooks, but below average if you compare it to the screens on larger notebooks. Colors are bright and vibrant thanks to some help from the LED-backlighting. Overall brightness is adequate for viewing in an office setting but not bright enough for using the notebook outside under direct sunlight. The screen is evenly lit across the entire surface, with the only hotspot showing near the screen hinge attachment points ... which pinch the screen slightly. Vertical viewing angles are average, with colors quickly washing out or distorting outside of the viewing sweet spot. Horizontal viewing angles are much better, staying accurate at steep angles, only dimming as it rotates further away from you.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The A605 features a nearly full-size keyboard with the primary keys being the same size as on a larger notebook, but the surrounding keys are condensed to fit inside the frame of the Portege. The keyboard is comfortable to type on, but suffers from the same flex issue as the palm rest and notebook bottom. Under moderate pressure the entire keyboard surface will sink in, giving you a trampoline feeling as you type. Individual key action is smooth, giving off a very mild click noise when pressed.

Toshiba includes an ALPS touchpad on the A605, which is quite large for a 12” notebook. It is quick and responsive, with very little lag noticed during our tests. Fingertip sensitivity is much better than older ALPS touchpads we have seen, is slightly under a Synaptics model. The touchpad surface has a rough matte finish, which is easily to slide across even if your finger is slightly moist from sweat. The touchpad buttons were disappointing, being very small and having shallow feedback when pressed. The buttons are mounted flush with the chrome trim under the touchpad and are so tightly fit that they rub against the edges when pressed.

Ports and Features
Port selection on the A605 is good for an ultra-portable notebook, including three USB ports, VGA, LAN, audio jacks, and eSATA through a combo port. While HDMI or DisplayPort might be handy, many business users still use VGA for projectors and it is more than capable for connecting the notebook to a secondary monitor. The bottom of the notebook also features a docking connector, for further port expansion.

Front view

Rear view

Left view

Right view

System performance of the Toshiba Portege A605 falls somewhere between a full-size notebook and a netbook. The ultra-low voltage SU9400 processor sacrifices speed at the cost of performance to gain battery life. For normal system activities such as typing documents, working on spreadsheets, surfing the Web, or even watching SD video the system shows no signs of lagging. Light gaming or HD movies will stress the system, pegging the processor and drastically increasing power consumption. HD movies were very playable, with most 720P and 1080P content putting the processor under a 45-60% load depending on the amount of motion on screen. Games are limited to older things such as the original Half-Life.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.40GHz) 32.119 seconds
HP EliteBook 2530p (Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 @ 1.86GHz) 41.263 seconds
Toshiba Portege A605 (Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 @ 1.4GHz) 54.458 seconds
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.2GHz) 76.240 seconds
HP Pavilion dv2 (AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 @ 1.6GHz)
103.521 seconds
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 114.749 seconds
Lenovo IdeaPad S10 (2009) (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 126.406 seconds

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
HP EliteBook 2530p (1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400, Intel 4500MHD) 5,787 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600, Intel X4500) 4,298 PCMarks
Toshiba Portege A605 (1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400, Intel GMA X4500) 3,459 PCMarks
Sony VAIO TZ (1.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 2,446 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv2 (1.6GHz AMD Athlon Neo, ATI Radeon HD 3410 512MB) 2,191 PCMarks
Toshiba Portege R500 (1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 1,839 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1,535 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad S10 (2009) (1.6GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,478 PCMarks

3DMark06 comparison results against notebooks @ 1280 x 800 resolution:

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
HP TouchSmart tx2 (2.4GHz Turion X2 Ultra ZM-86, ATI Radeon HD 3200) 1,685 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv2 (1.6GHz AMD Athlon Neo, ATI Radeon HD 3410 512MB)
1,355 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Tablet (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz, GMA X4500)
921 3DMarks
HP EliteBook 2530p (1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400, Intel 4500MHD) 898 3DMarks
Toshiba Portege A605 (1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400, Intel GMA X4500) 617 3DMarks
Apple MacBook Air (1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7500, Intel X3100)
502 3DMarks
Sony VAIO TZ (1.20GHz Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 122 3DMarks

HDTune for the built-in hard drive:

The Portege A605 is equipped with a single mono speaker that was surprisingly loud ... even when compared to other low-end notebooks with stereo speakers. It lacks bass and midrange, but considering how bad it could have been, it surprised us in the office during our music test. For listening to music, viewing YouTube clips, or watching a movie it would probably work fine, but as always, headphones are one of the best accessories for notebook users.

Toshiba includes an ultra-low voltage Intel Core 2 Duo processor inside the A605 Portege, which we thought would help in the battery life department. Under normal operating conditions the notebook floats around 9 to 11 watts of power consumption, which sounds low, but not as low as some larger notebooks. The Lenovo ThinkPad T400 for example consumes only 8.5 watts of power when under light processor loads, and that specific configuration had the high performance T9600 processor. In our battery test with the screen at 70% backlight, wireless active, and Vista set to the "Balanced" profile, the A605 stayed on for 5 hours and 27 minutes. While this is still a respectable figure, we think it could have reach a much greater time with better power management.

One stand-out feature of the A605 is the super small 45W power adapter. It is great for traveling, since it doesn’t add that much weight to your bag, and if you get a different power cord for it, takes up very little space. The downside to such a small power adapter though is the very slow charge rate on the notebook, taking hours to complete a charge if the notebook is on.

Heat and Noise
Overall the Portege A605 doesn’t get that hot under normal use, and only develops hot spots under prolonged benchmarks. The Intel Core 2 Dup SU9400 helps keep processor heat output to a minimum, with a 10 watt maximum consumption rate. Under normal use the palm rests stay relatively cool, about 4 to 10 degrees above our room temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit. The one hotspot we found is located at the top left of the keyboard, near the power jack. Fan noise is minimal, with the fan actually being off under most of the time. When the fan is on the only time you notice it is running is when you feel hot air blowing on your arm from the vent on the side.

The Toshiba Portege A605 offers good looks and a small form factor, but compromises build quality to achieve its very low weight. The palm rest, keyboard, and screen all exhibit a good amount of flex, which doesn’t bode well for thoughts of durability. Looking past the flexible chassis, the notebook does offer a built-in optical drive, and still keeps the overall weight to just above 3lbs. For a business traveler who only cares about that, this notebook falls right in the weight range of most netbooks. With the current list price of $1,399 it is priced against the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 or about double the price of an HP Pavilion dv2. Overall I think the Portege A605 offers a lot potential for a customer interested in a good looking business notebook, but it has a few areas that could see some improvement.


  • Weighs in at 3lbs, even with built-in optical drive
  • Good battery life
  • Cool operation
  • Very small power adapter


  • Slow charging rate while the notebook is powered on and charging at the same time
  • Flexible chassis

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Notebook Review Spec : HP ProBook 4510s

by Jerry Jackson

The HP ProBook 4510s is the latest 15.6" business notebook designed to provide solid performance at a low price for small and medium businesses. If your company wants the HP Elitebook 8530p but doesn't have the budget to spend $1,350 per laptop, the ProBook 4510s might be a good alternative at a starting price of just $529. Is this budget-priced business notebook destined for success? Take a look at our full review to find out.

Our pre-production review unit of the ProBook 4510s is configured as follows:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T6570 Processor (2.1GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB)
  • Microsoft Genuine Windows Vista Business (with option for Windows XP downgrade)
  • 15.6-inch LED-backlit anti-glare HD display (1366 x 768)
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
  • 2GB DDR2 800MHz RAM
  • 250GB 5400RPM HDD
  • LightScribe DVD+/-RW Optical Drive
  • WiFi (802.11a/b/g/draft-n), Ethernet, Modem, and Bluetooth Connectivity
  • 8-Cell 63WHr Battery
  • Limited 1-year standard parts and labor warranty
  • Dimensions: 1.25" x 14.6" x 9.83"
  • Weight: 5.8lbs
  • Price as configured: $749

Build and Design
The HP ProBook 4510s is a business notebook designed to meet the needs of small and medium businesses ... in other words, it needs to have a good balance of features and security at a low price. That said, small and medium business notebooks tend to have a very basic build and deign in order to help bring down the cost of production. At first glance, the ProBook 4510s looks very similar to a HP EliteBook 8530p with a new keyboard and all black finish. Unfortunately, the design similarities stop there.

HP received much praise for the strong magnesium alloy chassis used in the EliteBook series of business notebooks. Unfortunately, in order to lower the cost and weight of the notebook the ProBook 4510s is constructed mostly of plastic. The base of the laptop flexes heavily under pressure, the palmrests likewise bow under the weight of your wrists, and the back of the screen lid is similarly prone to flex. The plastics used in the 4510s should hold up fine if the notebook is being used as an office desktop replacement, but the chassis might not survive multiple drops off a desk or the kind of abuse you expect from a mobile workforce. On the bright side, the new keyboard is pretty firm except for a very minor amount of flex around the directly above the optical drive (more on that later). The key point to remember in this section is that the ProBook 4510s looks pretty nice, but isn't as rugged as more expensive business notebooks.

The outer shell of the screen casing, like the rest of the notebook, is made of plastic. The lid is made of reflective glossy plastic with the HP and ProBook logos printed in silver. The laptop screen housing is a mixture of firm and flexible materials. The frame around the screen is solid enough to prevent me from twisting the screen when force is applied, but the back of the lid is flexible enough that I was able to create screen-wide ripples across the display when I pressed on the back of the screen.

The minimalistic design of the ProBook 4510s combines matte and glossy surfaces for a clean look without the flare of HP's consumer-oriented Pavilion line. Our review unit comes equipped with the "Noir" black finish but HP will also offer the notebook in "Merlot" red later this year.

Despite the plastic construction, the 4510s features hard drive shock protection in the form of HP 3D DriveGuard which will help to protect your hard drive in the event the laptop gets dropped or violently bumped. HP also includes HP ProtectTools with drive encryption, Device Access Manager, HP Spare Key (a program that helps employees access their computer in case they forget their password), HP Disk Sanitizer, File Sanitizer, and McAfee Security Solution for those small businesses that need reliability and ease of use but don't have the resources of a dedicated IT department.

That being said, we were a little confused by how difficult it is to make upgrades to the ProBook 4510s. While most notebooks have a removable panel on the bottom of the notebook to access the RAM, hard drive, and wireless card, HP designed the ProBook 4510s so that you have to remove 10 screws and the entire top half of the chassis (including separate speaker grill, keyboard, and touchpad area) in order to replace or upgrade components. As you can see in the image below, that is a lot of work for a small IT department or small business owner who just wants to upgrade the RAM or replace a hard drive. Granted, many businesses will never upgrade their notebooks and will simply use them as-is until they are replaced ... but the complexity of upgrades and repairs is something to keep in mind.

Screen and Speakers
The ProBook 4510s comes equipped with a 15.6" anti-glare display with a 16:9 widescreen ratio. At 1366 x 768 pixels, this 720p high-definition display is perfectly usable and features good color and contrast. We know many people are concerned about the transition from 16:10 to 16:9 ratio screens (because this means less vertical resolution) but the difference is so minor that the vast majority of notebook users will never have a problem.

Horizontal viewing angles are quite impressive and you only start to notice some color shift after you get 75 degrees off center. Vertical viewing angles are only average as the screen begins to wash out from above and colors begin to invert from below after about 45 degrees in either direction.

HP generally impresses our editorial staff with the quality of the speakers used in their notebooks. Unfortunately, the speakers in the 4510s were less than impressive. Sure, the audio quality is good enough for watching a webcast or hearing system sounds, but the built-in speakers sound tinny and lack a good range of highs, middles, and lows. The highest volume settings are loud enough to fill an office with sound for a presentation, but audio sounds distorted at the higher volumes.

Despite the weak performance of the built-in speakers, they are well placed above the keyboard to direct sound up and toward the user.

The headphone jack on the 4510s works well with the two different brands of earphones I used during the test. No static or other noise was noticed through the jack besides imperfections in the audio source itself.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The full-size keyboard on the 4510s is a completely new design for HP and provides fantastic spacing between keys for typing as well as a dedicated number pad (a major plus for businesses that use their computers for number crunching or data entry). Each key is relatively flat with a nice matte texture and the keys sit above a glossy black support frame. The support frame surrounding the keys is quite firm thanks to the design of the chassis which adds additional support for the keyboard. The only obvious area of flex in the keyboard is when you press on the number pad keys. Keep in mind, however, that we received a pre-production unit, and HP claims that the production units shipping to customers have even better support against flex.

The individual key presses are quiet without loud clicking sounds as you type. The depth of each key press is excellent, though some people may dislike the flat, chicklet-style keys. Overall the keyboard layout is extremely nice for a 15-inch laptop.

The touchpad is very responsive to my touch with a scroll zone on the right side that works exactly as it should. The touchpad texture is okay, but the low-cost material used is sure to develop wear over time and use. The plastic touchpad buttons are about the right size, but require a deep press in order to register a click. This wouldn't be a problem if the area directly beneath the touchpad buttons was indented to allow the side of your thumb to press the buttons all the way down. Unfortunately, when you try to press the touchpad buttons your thumb hits the bottom edge of the notebook and sometimes the buttons don't register a click. This would be a simple thing for HP to fix by replacing the palmrest and touchpad area with a new one that has an indented area beneath the touchpad buttons.

We would have also liked to see a dedicated touchpad disable button (like the ones HP uses on their consumer notebooks) so that you can disable the touchpad if you're using an external mouse.

Ports and Features
The 4510s features a good number of ports on all sides, so let us take a brief tour ...

Left side: Here we see the Kensington lock slot, GigE Ethernet, heat exhaust, VGA out, HDMI, an ExpressCard/34 slot, and two USB ports.

Right side: Two USB ports, modem (under a rubber flap), optical drive and power jack.

Rear side: The battery and hinges.

Front side: Media card reader, headphone out and microphone in jacks.

The bottom of the notebook is completely bare. As previously mentioned, there is no way to access the RAM, hard drive, or wireless card from the bottom of the notebook. The top half of the 4510s must be completely disassembled in order to make upgrades or repairs.

Performance and Benchmarks
Our pre-production ProBook 4510s came with the Intel T6570 processor, clocking in at 2.1GHz, and Intel integrated graphics. Discrete graphics will be available at a later date, but discrete graphics will obviously increase the cost of the notebook. A 250GB 5400 RPM hard drive was also included, which helped applications load without much lag. This notebook didn't really exceed our expectations in terms of performance, but the 4510s has more than enough power to handle Microsoft Office or even very basic video work.

The obvious bottleneck in terms of performance here is the use of Intel graphics, but considering the small and medium business buyers interested in this notebook don't care about the ability to play video games or edit HD video, this isn't a major concern.

With that said, let's jump into the performance benchmarks.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Lenovo T500 (Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz)
HP EliteBook 8530w (Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 @ 2.53GHz) 30.919s
Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 (Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.4GHz) 32.275s
HP ProBook 4510s (Intel Core 2 Duo T6570 @2.1GHz) 36.583s
Dell Vostro 1510 (Core 2 Duo T5670 @ 1.8GHz)

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Lenovo T500 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3650 256MB GDDR3) 7,050 PCMarks
HP EliteBook 8530w (2.53GHz Intel T9400, Nvidia Quadro FX 770M 512MB) 6,287 PCMarks
Lenovo T500 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, Intel X4500) 5,689 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, Nvidia 9300M GS 256MB) 5,390 PCMarks
HP ProBook 4510s (2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6570, Intel 4500MHD) 4,192 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 1510 (1.8GHz Intel T5670, Intel X3100) 3,568 PCMarks

3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
HP EliteBook 8530w (2.53GHz Intel T9400, Nvidia Quadro FX 770M 512MB) 5,230 3DMarks
Lenovo T500 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3650 256MB GDDR3) 4,371 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, Nvidia 9300M GS 256MB) 2,242 3DMarks
Lenovo T500 (2.80GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9600, Intel X4500)
809 3DMarks
HP ProBook 4510s (2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6570, Intel 4500MHD)
748 3DMarks
Dell Vostro 1510 (1.8GHz Intel T5670, Intel X3100) 519 3DMarks

HDTune storage drive performance test:

Heat and Noise
During normal use (browsing the web or working on a text document) the ProBook 4510s remained relatively cool but not very quiet. The exhaust fan seemingly runs a full blast when the notebook is plugged in, so your coworkers might hear what sounds like a distant hair dryer in a quiet office. When doing tasks that stress the processor and graphics, the laptop's fan works hard to keep this laptop cool. This is something of a mixed blessing in that while noisy, it helps to lower the internal temperatures and helps extend the life of your notebook components.

Finally, we recorded the following external temperatures using an IR thermometer after running two consecutive PCMark05 benchmarks. This should serve as an indicator of how hot the notebook will get after about 30 minutes of serious use. All temperatures are listed in degrees Fahrenheit. It's obvious that the bottom of the notebook near the wireless card, processor, and graphics are the hottest parts of the notebook.

HP offers two different batteries with this notebook. The base configuration the ProBook 4510s comes with a 6-cell 47WHr battery while the $749 configuration comes with the 8-cell 63WHr battery. The battery life of the extended life 8-cell battery is a little better than average, but not amazing. During our timed tests, with the laptop set to "high performance" mode, wireless active, and 80% screen brightness, the 4510s lasted for 5 hours and 10 minutes with a power draw of about 11.1watts. Battery life can also be extended using the "power saver" power profile in Windows Vista.

The HP ProBook 4510s is a solid, though not overwhelmingly impressive small and medium business notebook. Compared to similar notebooks like the Dell Vostro 1510 and 1520 or the Lenovo ThinkPad SL500, the ProBook 4510s is more impressive than the Dell and is either better or worse than the ThinkPad depending on configuration. Whether you're a small business owner looking for a low-cost notebook for yourself or a medium business needing desktop replacements for a few dozen employees, the ProBook 4510s will get the job done.

Still, things like the plastic construction, uncomfortable touchpad design, and difficulty of upgrades might give potential buyers reasons to reconsider a purchase. Additionally, the fact that HP charges almost twice the price for custom configurations (CTO) means that business buyers are almost forced to choose pre-configured models.

Bottom line, the HP ProBook 4510s is a fine notebook for its intended market, but if HP made a few simple changes to the design and purchase options then business buyers would have even more reasons to buy this laptop.


  • A great price for a 15.6" business notebook
  • Nice keyboard ... despite some flex
  • Attractive design and relatively light weight


  • Not-so-great build quality
  • Custom configurations are overpriced
  • Touchpad buttons are just plain horrible
  • Too difficult to upgrade

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Notebook Review Spec : HP Mini 2140 (HD Update) Review

BY: Kevin, Editor

With more companies entering the netbook market the one thing that is starting to set different models apart is the quality of the keyboards. The HP Mini 2140 offers an expansive keyboard that is comfortable to type on and is the closest you can get to a full-size keyboard on a 10” netbook right now. In this review we take a look at the Mini 2140 again, this time with the higher resolution screen option.

Editor's Note: Since the HP Mini 2140 with high-resolution screen is virtually identical to the Mini 2140 with the lower resolution screen, much of the text in this review is borrowed from our last review of the Mini 2140. If you just want to see what's new, skip ahead to the sections on the Screen and Battery.

Our HP Mini 2140 HD features the following specifications:

  • Operating System: Genuine Windows XP (Vista or SuSE Linux also available)
  • Processor: Intel Atom N270 Processor 1.60GHz (512 KB L2 cache, 533 MHz FSB)
  • Memory: 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, 800MHz, one SODIMM memory slot, supports up to 2GB
  • Internal Storage: 160GB 5400 rpm SATA HDD with HP 3D DriveGuard (also available with 160GB 7200 rpm SATA with HP 3D DriveGuard or 80GB Solid State Drive)
  • Display: 10.1-inch diagonal 16:9 HP Illumi-Lite LED HD display (1366 x 768 resolution)
  • Graphics: Intel GMA 950
  • Wireless: Broadcom 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.0, HP Wireless Assistant
  • Expansion slots: (1) ExpressCard/54 slot, Secure Digital (SD/SDHC) slot
  • Ports and connectors: (2) USB 2.0 ports, VGA, power connector, RJ-45/Ethernet (Gigabit), stereo headphone/line out, stereo microphone in, VGA webcam
  • Input device: 92% full-sized keyboard, touchpad with scroll zone
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 1.05 (at front) x 10.3 x 6.5 inches
  • Weight: 2.96 lb with 6-cell battery (not including weight of AC adapter).
  • Power: 6-cell (55 WHr) or 3-cell (28 WHr) Lithium-Ion battery, 65W HP Smart AC Adapter with HP Fast Charge
  • Warranty: One-year standard parts and labor warranty, pick-up or carry-in, and toll-free 7 x 24 hardware technical phone support.

Pricing for the HP Mini 2140 with higher resolution screen starts at $479.

Build and Design
The HP Mini 2140, like last year's Mini-note 2133, has a great design. Everyone in our office agrees that this ultra-mobile laptop has a solid chassis and attractive look. The brushed aluminum and plastic casing is durable and hides fingerprints well. It also keeps the Mini 2140 lightweight; only weighing in around 2.4 lbs as configured. The sleek business appeal feels at home in the corporate world, but the Mini 2140 is targeted toward students as well. One look at this machine and you can see why. Who wouldn't want an inexpensive mini notebook to toss in a backpack between classes, especially one that pretty much has a full-size keyboard?

HP was smart to keep the design of the 2140 mostly unchanged from the 2133. Nothing about the Mini 2140 feels cheap. The chassis is solid thanks to a combination of aluminum, plastic, and a magnesium alloy support structure inside. The larger 10.1" display is beautiful and easy to read indoors despite putting off some significant glare outdoors because of the protective coating. The Mini 2140 also comes with enough ports and storage capacity (thanks to the 160GB hard drive) that you might even consider using this business-grade netbook as your primary computer.

As I mentioned above, the keyboard is almost full size. It is 92% of a full sized keyboard, which is quite impressive for such a small form factor. It is much more comfortable to type on compared to the keyboards found on most 10-inch netbooks. However, the touchpad can be awkward since the placement of the right and left touchpad buttons are on the right and left sides rather than beneath the touchpad. As you can see from the pictures in this review the Mini 2140 also has neat power and Wi-Fi switches that light up and change from blue when on to orange when off.

HP uses a LG LP101WH1 LED-backlit panel under the glossy plastic cover. The display actually has a matte finish, which probably helps lessen reflections between the panel and outer cover. HP lists this panel as having a 200 nit brightness rating and a 400:1 contrast ratio. These figures are in line with what we observed in our testing. The screen brightness was in line with most full-size notebooks, but didn’t appear as bright as other netbooks. I think part of this is the Infinity cover and the higher resolution panel. Colors were bright and vibrant, making most images “pop” out at you from the display. Outside of a few high-end workstations I think netbooks offer some of the best color saturation levels. Vertical viewing angles were above average, with minimal color distortion at viewing above or below the optimal viewing angle. Horizontal viewing angles are better with colors staying accurate at wide viewing angles; although as the screen appears darker, reflections off the Infinity cover start to overpower the display. HP’s technical specification lists the official viewing angles at +/- 30 degrees horizontal and +/- 10 degrees vertical.

The higher resolution display is a huge benefit compared to the standard 1024x576 screen option for one reason; menus in Windows are almost all designed for a minimum height 600 pixels. It is a pain having to drag menus above the screen to find a cancel or confirm button. Other added benefits might include viewing a document and a webpage at the same time or editing large photos. Just be aware that if you have a hard time viewing small text on a screen, the HD display might not be the right option for you.

Viewing outside would be very difficult unless it was very late in the day, or it was overcast and you were under the shade of a tree. The added reflections from the additional screen cover make viewing in bright conditions difficult, making you change your position often to find a new sweet spot where a light isn’t bouncing off the screen into your face. Another problem we saw first-hand with the screen cover is its ability to capture dust between the layers. Some specs of dust were big enough to cast shadows on the display where the smaller ones just looked like white dots as they reflected light from overhead. On a normal screen dust is easily removed with a soft cloth, where this design requires full disassembly to carefully remove any dust without introducing more. In the picture below all the white specs of dust are ones trapped beneath the glossy surface. We tried cleaning the dust out ourselves using a cloth and compressed air, which took care of the big pieces, but still left a lot of small specks behind.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the Mini 2140 is simply fantastic. Last year we said the keyboard on the Mini-note 2133 "is the best keyboard we've seen on a notebook this small." That statement holds true for the new Mini 2140 as well. Sure, you can find better keyboards on larger notebooks, but HP currently has the best keyboard we've tested on 10-inch and smaller netbooks. The keys have the silver "HP DuraKeys" finish that makes them resist dirt and makes the letters printed on the keys last longer over time. The surface of the keys are also smooth to the touch.

Regardless, the most important thing to remember about this section of the review is that the Mini 2140 has the biggest and best keyboard you will find on any netbook or notebook with a 10-inch screen. It is literally almost a full-sized keyboard, so writing papers for school or reports for work is a breeze. You won't see spelling errors due to hitting the wrong keys as often as you might with the tiny keys on most netbooks. I didn't notice any signs of keyboard flex and really liked that most of the keys were full sized except a few. The tilde (~) key and the number "1" key are smaller than the rest of the numbers, which was quite odd. The space bar was also a little smaller than normal.

As mentioned previously, most people find using the touchpad on the Mini 2140 a little awkward. The right and left click buttons are what catch you off guard. The buttons are located on the sides of the touchpad and it's easy to forget where they are located if you're used to a regular touchpad. I would have liked the palm rest area to be a little bigger so the buttons could have been relocated below the touchpad like on standard notebooks and most netbooks. The button above the touchpad is a convenient feature that turns the touchpad off and makes it inactive when you are typing or using an external mouse.

Input and Output Ports
Every netbook on the market requires one minor compromise due to the ultra-mobile form factor: limited port selection. You simply cannot accommodate the standard array of ports you'll find on larger notebooks in a computer this small. That said, HP did a remarkable job packing as many ports as possible into the Mini 2140. The complete list of ports includes:

  • One ExpressCard/54 slot
  • Secure Digital (SD/SDHC) card reader
  • Two USB 2.0 ports
  • VGA out
  • Power connector
  • RJ-45/Ethernet
  • Stereo headphone/line out
  • Stereo microphone/line in

Overall, the port selection is amazing for a notebook this size. However, we would have like to see one of the USB ports replaced with a combo USB/eSATA port. HP uses combo USB/eSATA ports on almost all of their larger notebooks and the combo port allows you to use either USB devices or eSATA devices such as high-speed external storage drives. Considering how easy it would have been to make one of the USB ports a combo port, we're a little surprised HP didn't do that.

Here is a quick tour around the HP Mini 2140:

Front view: Power switch, drive status light, Wi-Fi on/off switch.

Rear view: No ports here, just the hinges and battery.

Left side view: VGA out, heat vent, USB 2.0 port, microphone in, headphone out.

Right side view: ExpressCard/54 slot, SD card reader, USB 2.0 port, Ethernet, power connector, and security lock slot.

One additional thing worth mentioning regarding ports is that HP doesn't offer built-in 3G WWAN (mobile broadband from a provider such as AT&T or Verizon) with the Mini 2140. If you want to stay connected to the internet via WWAN you have to use an adapter card in the ExpressCard slot or one of the USB ports. It's sad to see that HP doesn't offer the option considering that smaller netbooks like the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 offer built-in WWAN.

Performance and Benchmarks
If you've read our reviews of other netbooks that use the Intel Atom processors then you know that overall performance with the Intel Atom platform is very reasonable for most daily activities like web browsing, email, using Microsoft Office, listening to music, and even watching movies. You can even use photo editing software like Photoshop Elements or GIMP. That said, the Mini 2140 doesn't make the ideal photo editing tool because of the low-resolution screen and the fact that the Atom processor is slower than a faster notebook or desktop when editing large image files. You can play some basic games on the Mini 2140, but don't expect to play Crysis or Left 4 Dead at 60 frames per second ... or at all.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.40GHz) 32.119 seconds
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240 seconds
HP Pavilion dv2 (AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 @ 1.60GHz)
103.521 seconds
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 114.749 seconds
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 123.281 seconds
Acer Aspire One (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 125.812 seconds
Lenovo IdeaPad S10 (2009) (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 126.406 seconds
Samsung NC20 (VIA Nano ULV U2250 @ 1.30GHz) 173.968 seconds

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (2.40GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600, Intel X4500) 4,298 PCmarks
Sony VAIO TZ (1.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 2,446 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv2 (1.60GHz AMD Athlon Neo, ATI Radeon HD 3410 512MB) 2,191 PCMarks
ASUS N10 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, NVIDIA 9300M 256MB) 1,851 PCMarks
Toshiba Portege R500 (1.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 1,839 PCMarks
Acer Aspire One (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1,555 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1,535 PCMarks
Samsung NC20 (1.30GHz VIA Nano ULV U2250, VIA Chrome9 HC3) 1,441 PCMarks
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GM1 950) 1,437 PCMarks

3DMark06 comparison results against netbooks @ 1024 x 768 resolution:

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
HP Pavilion dv2 (1.60GHz AMD Athlon Neo, ATI Radeon HD 3410 512MB)
1,520 3DMarks
ASUS N10 (1.60GHz Intel Atom, NVIDIA 9300M 256MB) 1,417 3DMarks
Samsung NC20 (1.30GHz VIA Nano ULV U2250, VIA Chrome9 HC3) 151 3DMarks
Acer Aspire One (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950)
122 3DMarks
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GM1 950) 112 3DMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 92 3DMarks
Sony VAIO P (1.33GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 500, Windows Vista) 88 3DMarks

HDTune for the built-in hard drive:

The built-in speaker performance on the Mini 2140 was nice, but not as impressive as the superior speakers on last year's HP Mini-note 2133. In order to accommodate the larger screen in the 2140, HP removed the large speakers next to the screen and used a pair of smaller speakers integrated into the chassis of the netbook. The end result is the speakers produce weak sound that's good enough for basic web browsing and online chats but doesn't provide a satisfying entertainment experience.

The best possible audio performance with this netbook comes via the use of external speakers or headphones. The audio output from the headphone jack is quite good and provides excellent, distortion-free sound for headphones or external speakers.

Heat and Noise
The ultra low voltage VIA processor in last year's HP Mini-note 2133 generated far more heat than we typically expect from ultra low voltage processors. Temperatures on the new Mini 2140 are thankfully much, much more comfortable thanks to the use of the Intel Atom processor. Temperature readings taken from the outside of the aluminum and plastic chassis rarely spiked above 95 degrees Fahrenheit ... compared to well above 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the previous generation.

The cooling fan was usually running at low speed during our tests and rarely increased to full speed. Most of the time the fan can't be heard even in a perfectly quiet office environment ... unless you put your ear next to the fan exhaust.

Below are images indicating the temperature readings (listed in degrees Fahrenheit) taken inside our office where the ambient temperature was 74 degrees Fahrenheit:

Battery life with the 6-cell battery option was great for the average road warrior who needs to work on the go without wondering why they might plug in. In our test with the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active, and XP set to the laptop/portable power profile the system stayed on for 5 hours and 26 minutes. If battery life is all that you are concerned about the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE got 7 hours and 36 minutes on its extended battery, but doesn’t include a higher resolution screen option.

The HP Mini 2140 is a very solid netbook that offers an amazing keyboard instead of something condensed that might be difficult to type on for extended periods of time. It wooed us last time we reviewed it, and it gets the same response again now that it offers a higher resolution screen. The other alternatives at this time for a comparable resolution screen is turning to the Sony VAIO P, at the starting cost of $899, or the Dell Mini 10 for $484 for similar configuration. Our big complaint with this model is the glossy plastic layer over the display, which adds glare and created a trap for dust. This is one cosmetic change that might look great on paper and in pictures, but in real life becomes more trouble than it's worth. Overall we were impressed with the excellent battery life, great build quality (except of the dust), and the starting price of $479 for the configuration we reviewed. If HP offered the Mini 2140 with a plain matte or glossy LCD, sans cover, this would be hands-down the best netbook money could buy. With the cover it is still an excellent netbook, but it loses some of its attractiveness.


  • Excellent keyboard
  • Very good extended battery life
  • Higher resolution


  • Glossy screen cover adds a lot of reflection
  • Second screen layer can trap a ton of dust