HP 2133 Mini-Note Six-Cell Battery

A few weeks ago I bought an extended six-cell battery for my HP2133 Mini-Note. I had originally thought that the three-cell battery would be enough for me, but I was spectacularly wrong.  As I’ve just started my PhD, I am finding that I have a lot of two-hour seminar sessions that I have to complete, and the three-cell battery was battling to get to an hour or so, tops, when I ran it on the ‘high-performance’ settings. 

And running the HP2133 Mini-Note on low-power use is not recommended if you need to do anything substantive, although it’s fine for tapping out a few notes.

With the extended battery, and on low-power mode, I’m easily getting 3 or more hours of practical use out of the notebook.  The battery is very good, although I don’t like the way that the higher battery makes the machine sit up – it’s far less ergonomic if you’re typing on a flat surface (which is what you should be aiming for).  With the six-cell battery, and if you keep the three-cell charged up and carried around with you, you’ll get through a day interspersed with meetings and presentations and plane flights very easily in my view. 

If you’ve got the mini-note, the extended battery is a must-have. 

Living with the HP2133 Mini-Note

I note that Dell has just released its UMPC equivalent, the Dell Mini-9.  Of course, when you see a new release in the market you’ve just bought into (clearly, I bought the HP2133 Mini-Note), you get a case of buyer’s remorse. 

However, from what I can tell the Dell is smaller and of course this is at the case of a crippled keyboard.  When everything I do on the computer – that is serious work, anyway – needs a good keyboard, the keyboard is a deal-breaker for me.  I type at about 120wpm, and I find the Mini-note keyboard to be excellent to type on, without the need to cripple the keyboard (no function keys, no F11, F12, etc). 

The Mini-Note isn’t perfect, of course, but it’s more than livable with.  I also seem to be the only person in the western world so far who is sticking with Vista.  It is livable, and most of my needs aren’t high-level. 

After three months using it now I’d note the following:

  • Machine runs hot.  Really hot.  Unbelievably hot.  Keep the vents ventilated.
  • Battery life is abysmal on the three-cell.  On high-performance, I doubt that I’m getting an hour out of it.  I’ve got my 6-cell battery on order which should keep me on stream for longer and it’s only $A129, so you know, that’s good.
  • Screen glare means that working in full sun is off the menu.  Shouldn’t do that in Australia anyway.
  • Size/form factor is very convenient, and having the disk space is good as well.  A 16GB SSD is all very well and good, but if I do want to do some relatively serious work I like to have my library with me.  I’d be tied to a portable hdd if I did that, which is inconvenient and quickly removes weight advantages.  No problem so far with the HDD over the SSD (famous last words?).
  • Keyboard is great, fantastic, what can I say?
  • Lots of good ports
  • Performance is very adequate, even with Vista (I do have the higher-spec processor and 2GB of RAM – I shudder to think what it would be like on the lower-specification).
  • Sound is excellent but of course that chews power
  • I have tried to run full-size videos on it from time to time and it does glitch up.  But you should keep in mind the purpose of the machine.

It’s very easy to live with. Size and weight are great.  I let it roll around in my messenger bag (a very manly handbag) and that doesn’t seem to have scratched it or anything.  The shell is nice and durable and doesn’t seem to be fingerprint prone. 

I have a full-size laptop for when I want to do a lot of mobile work.  But if I’m going to be wandering all over the city for a day with an hour or two in the middle to fill in (I work at clients from time to time, am studying at UQ, and lecturing at QUT), the HP 2133 mini-note is my favourite to whip out and work with.  In a pinch I could do full size work with the laptop (but you have to watch backpain!  Scourge of the modern world!).

Since I installed Office 2007 (another of Microsoft’s crimes against humanity), I’ve noted that one truly annoying feature of HP’s seem to be the HP Health Check, HP Network Centre, and so on suite of software.  By default, they’re set to use the same really useful keyboard shortcuts that Outlook uses.  I found myself typing ctl+shift+C and expecting to see a new contact, and getting the HP Health Check.

The trick is to go into the program shortcuts on the start menu and remove the shortcut keys assigned to the program there.  Why on earth anyone thought that was a good idea, I don’t know. 

Anyway, no real regrets so far.  The laptop also seems to be the coffee shop equivalent of a Porsche convertible – it does get admiring glances from waitresses at coffee shops who say how ‘cute’ it is.  My only response to that is that it is cute in a Very Manly Way.

This UMPC is dearer but it’s more functional and usable (keyboard for the win!) than certainly the ASUS eee pc and I think than the Dell Mini-9 (haven’t put my hands on one of those yet though).  If you need the convenience, want a laptop that doesn’t feel like a toy, and you could work with all day if you really, really had to, the HP2133 Mini-note wins on the points that matter.

Just buy the 6-cell battery and get asbestos underpants.

The HP2133 Mini-Note – unboxed

Well, the netbook arrived.  Harris Technologies were true to their word, and it actually arrived on the day they said it would.  What follows are the traditional unboxing photos.

Immediately prior to the magnificent unboxing.  All environmentally-friendly cardboard too.  Notice the judicious use of the Kylie Chan book – the box is barely bigger than the book.  

And again…

Yep – that’s a box all right.

Having opened the box, removed the tray and looked inside – it’s all kind of sparse, isn’t it?


Everything that’s in the box – except of course for the work of literature that is Kylie Chan’s White Tiger – a good read by the way if you like to read about supernatural kung fu queens of the sea.

It is small.  Really quite small.  The screen here is of course the cleanest it will ever be. 

Ta-da – the mini-beast. 

A comparison between the Vostro 1500 and the HP 2133 mini-note. 

Oh look, my Vostro wanted to hold the baby while it was booting up for the first time (which by the way takes an inordinate amount of time).      

As for first impressions, it’s a good little machine. The keyboard is an absolute delight and the weight is pretty good.  Battery life is abysmal – I only got the three-cell because weight is the primary concern here.  Although the store says I should get 2.5 hours out of it, I’m getting about an hour and a half. That is with wifi turned on, I suppose.  It would be better if I didn’t use the internet on battery – but… that’s kinda the point.  

The other thing the mini-note gets pinged for is the placement of the mouse buttons to the left and right of the glidepad.  Frankly I think it’s a storm in a keycup – you’re going to need to be flexible if you’re going to switch between your main machine and a second machine, and I haven’t found it to be really a problem as a user. 

The screen marks easily with fingerprints but that’s hardly an issue. 

It does get really, really hot on your lap – it won’t perch readily on your knobbly knees without burning a hole through the cartilage in your kneecap. 

There’s no software on cd or dvd, which is a slight annoyance for me, and neither is there any attempt at a carry case – for some reason I thought there would be such a thing.  It doesn’t matter, it tucks away handily into a folio. 

I’ve got the 1.6Ghz Via with 2GB RAM running Windows Vista Business (for now).  It is probably a crime against humanity to have Vista Business on such a low-powered machine.  Truly – a crime against humanity.  Although you can turn Aero on, it’s a bit like a blunt dentist’s drill without a powercord – both pointless and useless. I shudder to think how the lower-powered machines (1.2ghz and 1gb RAM) run – I believe you can get them with Vista on them. 

I held out for the 2GB RAM version – and I’m glad I did.  Vista is tolerable with everything turned down, and I get a Windows Experience score of 2.0 – due to the limited processor. 

Video playback on Youtube, I’ve noticed, is a bit choppy, and even when booting up the Windows sound chops up.  Overall – Windows Vista is tolerable but don’t expect to play any huge games on it.

However, out of the box it does exactly what it says it will do.  The weight is very good, the size is even better, the keyboard is not noticeably different to full-size (for power-users – note that the page up, page down, home and end keys are FN-alterative keys rather than getting their own dedicated key – a problem for typists like me).  I doubt it would ever be your main machine, although you could put in an external keyboard, mouse & monitor and work with it generally OK.  That may be an option for someone with no high-end needs. There’s plenty of disk space and a capacity to run software that isn’t games or video-editing. 

Compared to the ASUS eee-pc, which first got me interested in getting a small notebook, the HP2133 is streets ahead.  The Asus wins out on battery life, processor power (I think, anyway) and I also suspect ruggedness (because it’s very plastic, you feel like you can chuck the ASUS in the backpack and move on with your life – I suspect you probably won’t do that with the HP2133).  There is really no comparison though – you can take your files with you on a business trip with the HP2133, and do some real work with the HP’s keyboard – which I consider to be about the most important aspect of using such a small notebook.  If I wanted a fiddly keyboard, I’d tap things out on my Blackberry.  The eee-pc’s keyboard was just unusable. 

No case of buyer’s remorse yet.  For me it will be good on flights, interstate trips, commuting hops and meetings.  I don’t know that I would like to have to work off it all day – that would kill your back and your eyesight, but overall it’s a great machine for the money that does what it says it will do – and what else can you ask for? 

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny umpc’s

I’ve taken the jump and decided to buy an HP 2133 mini-note laptop.  These seem to be a category of computer all on their own called UMPC – Ultra Mobile Personal Computer.  Or alternatively an ULCPC (Ultra-Low Cost Personal Computer), since the HP 2133 seems to not match a number of people’s requirements for such a beast:

It’s certainly low-cost generally ($999 from Harris Technology) for a fairly well-specced notebook that is less than the size of a largish book.  I did check out the eeepc, but frankly that machine’s keyboard is far, far too small to do anything serious with.  I don’t think I managed to type a sentence without a typo, and even though I’m looking to get as light as possible, I would like to be able to some serious work with this baby when possible.  See the comparison video below.


Overall the reviews seem to ping the HP2133 mini-note for its poor processor, trackpad, and battery life.  Also the glossy screen gets pinged too. 

Essentially I want the machine for using in meetings and on the plane – although the Vostro is great, it’s pretty darned heavy to walk around and, with my new life going back to Uni to do my PhD, it should be good to have the option of the smaller ‘netbook’.  I don’t really care about processor speed so long as it does stuff – I don’t need high-end graphics to write stuff.

I couldn’t see myself doing any work at all on the eee pc, although the eee pc 9″ model has a great screen and is really really light – put a good keyboard on that machine and it’s mine, mine mine.

Perhaps I’ll try Ubuntu on the HP – it comes with Vista Business which, as I’ve said, I’m not all that keen on.

Oh – and beware – I think the sweet machine to get is the 1.7 Via with the 2GB RAM & 160 GB hard drive – Harvey Norman has the 1GB RAM Version for $100 less, but I’m not prepared to take THAT much of a performance hit.