The HP Mini 210 is a 10in netbook with plenty of style. It looks and feels different to the netbook it replaces - the HP Mini 110 - but it still performs like a netbook.
It offers a very solid keyboard with isolated (island-style) keys, a very smooth and responsive touchpad and an enclosure that feels almost rubbery when you touch it. Like most netbooks, the HP Mini 210 has its drawbacks: it gets warm, it only has 1GB of RAM and 802.11n Wi-Fi is absent.
HP Mini 210: Design
The HP Mini 210 is a netbook with better than usual styling and design. It feels almost futuristic with its textured lid and base, edge-to-edge glossy screen and concealed touchpad buttons. Furthermore it has no annoyingly visible and extremly bright status lights - it's almost stealth-like in this regard. The power, hard drive and battery indicator lights can be found on the sides. The Wi-Fi, caps lock, mute and 'touchpad disabled' lights are visible on the top of the system, but only when these features are enabled.
Even the panel on the base of the HP Mini 210 netbook seems futuristic: you don't have to use any tools to remove it in order to get to the single memory slot and 2.5in hard drive bay. Simply remove the battery, press the release buttons and pop off the cover with your fingernails. Admittedly it can be a little difficult to remove and at times it feels like the plastic clips that hold the panel in place might snap, but if you're slow and careful they won't.
The bottom panel of the HP Mini 210 doesn't have any vents and it is one single piece of plastic. To keep cool, the internal components rely on an air intake vent on the right side and an exhaust vent on the left through which the small system fan pushes out the accumulated warm air. When you use it on your lap - even after a short amount of time - the vents can get blocked and it gets noticeably warm around the hard drive and CPU areas. This becomes uncomfortable after a short while and it's not a good thing for a notebook that's designed to be highly mobile and used on a lap.
HP Mini 210: User comfort
Typing for long periods of time on the HP Mini 210 is relatively easy. The palm rest is 5cm deep and the keyboard's keys are spaced 4mm apart and are 8.5mm wide. The shift keys are large and there are no keys in awkward positions. The up and down arrows are small, but you get used to this quickly. There are no page up and down buttons, which is inconvenient if you use these keys for navigating web pages.
The main job of the function keys is to let you change the screen brightness, volume, Wi-Fi status, screen output, and even let you control a media player all without you having to hold down the Fn button while pressing them. It's a very convenient arrangement.
We absolutely love the touchpad on the HP Mini 210. Unlike the touchpad on the Mini 110, the left- and right-click buttons are in their conventional location along the bottom edge of the touchpad instead of being either side. They are concealed under the touchpad (HP calls it a Clickpad).
This allows the entire pad to be used for navigation, yet the buttons are still very easy to press. The only problem with this design is that you can't use separate fingers to navigate and click on the buttons at the same time. The pad itself feels very smooth and soft and it's perfectly responsive. It supports three gestures: pinching, scrolling and rotating. It doesn't get in the way when you type, but you can disable it by double tapping its top-left corner.
The touchpad buttons are concealed beneath the pad itself, which gives you more surface area for moving the pointer and makes the pad very comfortable to use.
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