Here comes HP again, straight out the gate with a lovely new netbook for us to get our paws on. This is the 10.1-inch HP Mini 210-1156sa, and it's yours for around £250 from PC World.
We've seen our share of pink laptops, normally shamelessly hawked to the beleaguered female market, but we've never seen any that look quite as delicious as this. Rather than an eye-melting luminous shade, HP has opted for a muted pink hue with a metallic tint on the interior.
It's topped off with a party-ring-like lacquer coating over the lid and underside of the netbook, which isn't something we see very often. Even the trackpad features the same pattern. To be honest, this netbook makes us want to eat a whole lot of ice cream, which is a sure hallmark of successful engineering.
Portability is impressive at a petite weight of just 1.22kg. The netbook's dimensions are pretty slender, too, measuring a meagre 23 by 268 by 178mm, so hurling it into your backpack or handbag and sprinting out the door is definitely on the cards.
We're very happy with the keyboard on show here, which is one of the largest we've seen on a netbook. The great big keys and large space bar are cause for celebration, and the gaps between each button should help cut down accidental mis-presses. The individual keys feel a touch plasticky and rattly, but we don't think it's a huge issue.
We're also in two minds about the trackpad. On the one hand, this isn't the tiny, cramped affair we see on so many netbooks, and its wide, highly sensitive mousing area might stop you developing chronic carpal tunnel in your thumbs. On the other hand, HP still insists on integrating the click buttons into the trackpad itself, so you'll frequently find yourself accidentally nudging the cursor when all you wanted to do was hit the left click. Fail.
Hey good lookin'
The Mini's display is a strong point. We're talking about a 10.1-inch panel with a 1024x600-pixel resolution. It's glossy, but it's also lovely and bright. Colours look vivid on this panel, so viewing photos and Web pages on this screen is a pleasure.
Before we get to performance, let's talk about the bits and bobs around the side of this netbook. In the interests of saving space, things are a bit minimal -- three USB ports, VGA out, a multi-format card reader and a solitary 3.5mm jack for some headphones. There's no extra port for a microphone, so if you're always on Skype, that's something to think about before throwing down your cash.
As for storage, a 160GB hard drive is all you'll get. Now, that's not as much space as some other netbooks offer, but we struggle to think of situations where you'd need to be storing anything particularly large on these tiny machines. Like every other netbook, the Mini 210-1156 runs on Windows 7 Starter Edition.
What'cha got cookin'?
As for performance, the HP Mini 210 performs exactly as we'd expect it to -- it breezes through simple tasks like Web browsing, document-editing and email, and anything more intensive leaves it panting for breath. With an Intel Atom N455 CPU on board, clocked at 1.66GHz and backed up by 1GB of RAM, don't expect to get any real computational oomph out of this machine.
This netbook threw a bit of a wobbly when it was asked to run our PCMark05 benchmark suite, but we were able to run the CPU test, in which it scored a mediocre 1,389.
Battery life is... disappointing. When we gunned this Mini's CPU at a constant 100%, it lasted 2 hours and 14 minutes before giving up the ghost. That's not too slick for a netbook, which we'd hope would survive a full day away from the mains. With more frugal use you'll squeeze out more time, but this is still a lowly benchmark score.
In terms of performance, the HP Mini 210-1156sa does absolutely nothing new. Bog-standard power aside, this is a neat little netbook that packs decent usability into an attractive, lightweight build. It's just a shame about the battery life.
Edited by Emma Bayly