A prototype unit of the HP Mini 5101 has made its way to our labs and we gave it a gentle spin to see how this netbook holds up. After all, netbook designs have been done to death right? Apparently not.
Like most netbooks, the Mini 5101 relies on the ever present Intel Atom processor and its companion 945GSE chipset to power its innards. Other options like SSDs are available for those who need the performance boost. Since our HP Mini 5101 unit is actually an engineering prototype, we were unable to benchmark the unit. Instead, let's take a much closer look at the build and design of the Mini 5101.
Right from the start, it's obvious that the HP Mini 5101 is a major departure from HP's previous netbook designs in terms of its appearance and feel. What it now resembles is a miniature HP ProBook notebook. If not for the fact that we knew this was the Mini 5101, we could have mistaken it for just that. Gone are the rounded edges and the wonderful, comfortable keyboard of the HP Mini netbooks.
Fortunately, the Mini 5101 has stuck with the metallic finish that impressed us on the HP Mini 2140 and which continues to give this netbook its professional feel.
Exterior wise, we've mentioned that it looks like a smaller ProBook and you should be able to see the similarities from the last image on the left. From its exterior finish to the general structure of the Mini 5101, it's quite easy to spot where both units share their looks, and yes, even the bottom of the unit matches somewhat. The interior of the unit too shares much of the same design, from the bezel of the screen to the placement of the power button.
Note also the same chiclet keyboard design that was surprisingly comfortable to type on despite the fact that the Mini 5101's keyboard is sized at 95% of a normal keyboard. Strangely we did feel that the keyboard was actually smaller than usual due to the space between the keys. Honestly though, we preferred the keyboard design of the older Mini 1000/2140 instead.
The trackpad returns to a more traditional flavor with the buttons located at the bottom instead of the sides like the Mini 1000/2140, though we're quite puzzled at the choice of a glossy material for the frequently touched trackpad and the space in between the keys.
HP's Mini 5101 brings to the table a relatively new design that's made for the executive in mind thanks to its professional looks and build. That's not to say a consumer wouldn't actually mind grabbing one; heck, it's no-nonsense design gives it an edge that feels very much like the older Lenovo IdeaPad S10, yet with more style and flair.
We're pretty much loving how the Mini 5101 turned out and HP has done a great job with this elegant yet functional netbook. Retail units are due in August, so keep an eye out if you're interested and have US$599 to spare.