With a bright 10.1in screen, big keys and an ExpressCard/54 slot, the HP Mini 2140 is easy to use and has more functions and capabilities than most netbooks on the market. It's marketed as a netbook for business users, but it doesn't have an unreasonable price tag. In fact, if you don't mind spending close to $1100 for a netbook, this ultraportable laptop is definitely one you need to consider — even if you're not a business user.
It runs Windows XP (but includes a Vista Business licence) and has an Intel Atom N270 CPU (at 1.6GHz), 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a 5400rpm, 160GB hard drive. The CPU is run of the mill, but the amount of RAM is twice that found on most netbooks. The 5400rpm hard drive is also quicker than the 4200rpm drives netbooks commonly use. This helps the HP Mini 2140 perform a little faster than usual; its hard drive recorded a transfer rate of 24.22 megabytes per second, which is approximately 4MBps faster than a typical netbook with a 4200rpm drive. In our iTunes MP3 encoding test, the Mini 2140 took 7min 52sec — a faster than average time for a netbook.
Despite its good performance, the HP Mini 2140 is still a netbook, so you won't want to give it too much of a hard time. Use it for Web browsing, creating documents and watching the occasional video, but don't try to do too much multitasking, or open up multiple Flash-heavy Web pages at once or it might start to test your nerves. In saying that, we had no problems using the unit to browse the Web and write documents, and Xvid-encoded videos played without any stuttering.
What's disappointing is the screen's 1024x576 resolution, which is 24 lines shorter than a 10.2in notebook. This is in contrast to the HP Mini-Note 2133, which has an 8.9in screen yet a resolution of 1280x768. Nevertheless, it's only a slight loss of resolution and won't always make much of a difference in typical Web and office applications. The screen itself is LED-backlit; it's bright and easy to use outdoors, but it does have a narrow vertical viewing angle, making text look blurry if you view the screen from too high up.
Despite being a glossy screen, reflections from office lights weren't a problem — but they rarely are on a screen this small. As a business notebook, the most annoying thing about the HP Mini 2140 is its array of status lights, which are based on super LEDs. They are overly bright to the point where the unit becomes uncomfortable to use at night unless you angle it in such a way that the lights are obscured.
The touchpad is also too cramped. While the Mini 2140 is smaller than a 10.2in netbooks — it's 26cm wide and 16.5cm deep — its 82-key keyboard does have big keys, but its touchpad is the smallest of any netbook in its class that we've tested. In particular, it's not deep enough, which makes scrolling and vertical or diagonal dragging operations tedious. Its left- and right-click buttons are also awkward to use as they are in unnatural positions either side of the touchpad, but this is something you can get used to eventually.
Typing on the Mini 2140 is easy for the most part — in fact, it's the easiest netbook to type on that we've tested — but the touchpad sometimes does get in the way. Thankfully, HP has provided a switch so that you can turn if off when it's not needed.
Even after a prolonged period of use the HP Mini 2140 doesn't get too warm; it gets nowhere near as hot as the HP Mini-Note 2133, which got very uncomfortable to use on your lap. The HP Mini 2140 is comfortable to use on your lap for long periods, as long as you don't have to use the touchpad too often. If you're at home or in the office, you can plug in a mouse and external keyboard via its USB ports, but it doesn't have a third port for a USB key or a data card. It has built-in 802.11n networking and Gigabit Ethernet, and you can use the ExpressCard/54 slot if you want to use a mobile data card for Internet access.
The HP Mini 2140 is made of aluminium instead of plastic, so it's a cut above the competition when it comes to ruggedness, and it weights 1.2kg. That's a little heavy for a netbook, but the extra weight comes from the 5400rpm hard drive and the expansion slot. It has only a 28Wh battery — essentially the same as the battery in the HP Mini-Note 2133 — but it lasted 2hr 14min in our video run-down test with no power saving schemes enabled and screen brightness set to high. That puts it miles ahead of the Mini-Note 2133, which was based on a VIA CPU and ran Windows Vista. It's what we expected considering the battery capacity and this laptop's specifications.
We love the HP Mini 2140's screen, which is bright and rich in colour, though it's not as good as the screen on the Acer Aspire One AOD150. It's still lovely to use as long as you get the vertical angle right.
The HP Mini 2140 feels solid, has good speed, and is available with Windows Vista, which is where its 2GB of RAM comes in handy. We like the fast networking facilities, as well as the ExpressCard/54 slot, but we wish it had a better touchpad and dim LED status lights. If you're a business user looking for a netbook, this is the one to go for. Even you're not a business user it's an ultraportable notebook worth considering.