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Seen and Heard #5

Jack Loo | Dec. 22, 2009
Flying with a HP Mini to three cities and two hotels in Germany in six days.

The HP Mini 5101 has been my travelling companion for the most of December.

Designed to be an ideal travelling companion, the unit measures 10.3 by 7.1 by 0.9-in. and weighs about 1.2 kg. During a 15-hour flight to Europe, the small 5101 does not take much space on the folding table of the economic-class seat.

It is also light enough to be carried around when I go out for lunches, and gives me no problems when hooking up onto wireless Internet.

The 5101 comes with a choice of Windows Vista, XP Home or Professional, Suse Linux Enterprise 11 or FreeDOS operating systems; hard-disk or solid disk drives with 3D DriveGuard, HPs technology for protection of data in case of shock sustained should the notebook be dropped; a 10.1-in. screen, and a choice of fast-charging four or six-cell Lithium-Ion batteries.

The four-cell battery is slim and sits flushed with the units surface, but it only lasts about three hours' worth of sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica. The six-cell is worth eight hours, but is thicker by about 0.4 in. The fast-charging feature reloads the standard batter to 90 per cent of capacity within 90 minutes.

The gunmetal black magnesium alloy casing on the 5101 stands in stark contrast with the shiny, silvery sloped exteriors of previous Minis. There is a MacBook feel about the HP Mini 5101, thanks to its flat, open key layout. The keys are large, which is at 95 per cent of the size of the full laptop keyboard. They are textured enough to permit comfortable typing, but it would be great if there is something done to make typing silent. Also, the plastic-like surface of the touchpad seems to encourage smudges and offers some friction to finger strokes.

While the unit fits well in my carry-on bag during flight, the adapter wires are relatively thick and hard. This takes up some space and it would have been nice to have power lines that were more elastic and lighter.

Apart from these slight complaints, I would say it has been a great pleasure flying with the 5101.

A staff writer with Fairfax Business Media, Jack Loo is a full-time web and magazine reading addict, from bbc.co.uk to webmonkey and monocle.

 

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