The HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition first caught my attention for its beautiful Peony design. HP teamed up with New York based designer Vivienne Tam to create a fashion forward digital clutch. The Vivienne Tam edition is a compliment magnet where ever you take it and the matching accessories make it even more attractive. However, don't let this fool you as a digital clutch is just a fancy name for a netbook which is what this HP mini boils down to.
The specs of the Vivienne Tam Mini are very similar to the ho-hum specs of all the other netbooks out there. However, where most other netbooks use small SSD's or average size 2.5 SATA Hard drives the HP Mini uses a 1.8 inch PATA ZIF HDD.
Intel Atom N270
10.1 LED Back lit LCD display (1024x576)
What's in the Box:
This unit was purchased as a refurbished model from ecost.com so not everything was included. The box included the HP mini, a power cord, 30 watt AC adapter, and Recovery DVD. The only thing not included is the silk like sleeve that accompanies the retail version. However, at $380 USD for a refurbished model versus the retail $700+ the sleeve will hardly be missed.
The aesthetics of the Vivienne Tam digital clutch are the main attraction here. The beautiful peony design adorns the LCD lid while the rest of the notebook if a very bright and saturated red color. The design and color pattern continue to the keyboard which matches the red of the unit and the letters are covered with gold stenciling. By far, this is one of the most attractive and eye catching netbooks or notebooks that I have seen or owned.
The LED back lit LCD is very bright and is also one of the main attractors to this netbook. The screen is sharp, clear and has remarkably good horizontal and vertical viewing angles. HP opted to use a seamless bezel so the screen appears to have no ugly bezel that covers the screen. The only downside to this vibrant display is the slightly lower than normal resolution of 1024x576 where most netbooks will sport at least a 1024x600 screen.
The keyboard is probably what makes this the best netbooks this reviewer has owned or used. HP included a full 92% size keyboard on this mini and the keyboard covers the entire area of the case. Key response is good and typing is comfortable even after long periods of time. The only downside to the keyboard is the choice of the gold letters on the keys which may make the letters difficult to see as gold on red offers little contrast. Hunt and Peckers need not apply, touch typists only.
The touchpad is typical of most netbooks where the touchpad buttons are to the left and right of the touchpad. The ubiquitous Synaptics touchpad graces this notebook and offers many options to tweak the touchpad until just right. The touchpad is slightly lower than the rest of the uppercase and makes it easy to find without looking. Above the touchpad is a handy button to disable the touchpad if not used.
The HP Mini features offers few multimedia keys, however the typical volume and brightness keys are accessed by the Fn key and the function keys at the top of the keyboard.
If you are in love with indicator LED's, the HP Mini does not fail. The power switch and bluetooth/wifi switch are along the front edge of the unit. When powered the power switch glows a bright clear white which is a pleasant change from you typical blue, red, amber and green LEDs found on many computers. The bluetooth/wifi switch will light up blue, and near the DC jack there is another white LED to indicate that the unit is plugged into AC power. Lastly, the touchpad enable/disable button glows white above the touchpad rounding out the LEDs.
The HP mini features wireless connectivity courtesy of a half-height Broadcom 4312 based minicard. The card will support 802.11G at 54Mbps and had no problem connecting to any WEP or WPA network. The faster 802.11N would have been preferred as the Vivienne Tam edition could be considered a premium netbook considering the retail price, however 802.11G will still suffice.
HP also had the forethought to include Bluetooth 2.0 which should be a requirement for just about any netbook.
Another reason why HP did a good job is the speakers are hidden in the hinge of the LCD. The speakers are covered in a gold colored grill below the LCD and project sound to the user rather than speakers that point down or to the side. Audio is quite loud for a netbook and audio is clear. However, the speakers will distort at maximum volume and is not recommended. While the speakers do not sound tinny there is no good bass response. When compared against an Asus or Acer netbook the speakers on the HP are far better.
Input and Output Ports
The HP Mini does not come out very strong in this category. The HP Mini features only 2 usb ports, one on the left next to the DC jack and one on the right near the middle. HP decided to forgo a VGA connector in favor of a proprietary connector. While it is nice to save space, purchasing a separate cable to enable video is definitely a negative here. In addition to removing the VGA port HP opted to merge the mic and the headphone jack to a single connector. While this is not a deal breaker it may cause some people a headache when using some headsets. Luckily HP did earn points by including a matching red rubber plug over the LAN port which helps hide the giant notch in the case that is the network connection.
The front of the unit features the power switch, HDD activity indicator, Battery charge light, and wifi/bluetooth switch.
The webcam of the mini is probably the largest Achilles heel in the design of the unit. A quick google search will reveal quite a few complaints about the protective cover over the webcam. HP placed a mirror like plastic cover over the webcam that helps aesthetics, but completely eliminated the usability of the webcam. The webcam is dark and cannot be used indoors, and only outdoors on a sunny day. While some on the internet chalk this up to a forgotten step in the assembly process, others state that it is this way on purpose. Another quick search on google will also tell you how to remove the offending plastic which will at least make the webcam somewhat usable.
The right side of the unit features a lone USB port and the SD card reader.
The left side of the unit tends to be the business side. From left to right you will find the DC jack, DC jack LED indicator, 1 USB port, exhaust vent, proprietary VGA connector, and the combo headphone/mic connector. Covered by the rubber plug is the 10/100 Ethernet jack which rounds on the connectors on this side.
The rear of the netbook is oddly devoid of any connector.
The bottom of the Mini is fairly bare as the majority of the bottom is taken up by the 3 cell battery. One the bottom you will find a battery latch, and a battery lock. There are also 4 black rubber feet which will help keep the unit elevated while on a flat surface.
As this is a netbook, no gaming or any stressful benchmarks will be run. We all know netbooks have weak processors. However the HDD faired better than expected although a runcore SSD upgrade is in the future for this netbook.
Size and Weight
One of the best features of this netbook is the weight. The mini comes in at a svelte 2.45 pounds and the weight or lack of makes it easy to carry on a daily basis. The Mini is also fairly thin as well which makes it very easy to slip into a backpack or purse without adding much bulk.
Heat and Noise
If there is one thing you would not expect from this unit is heat. The memory module is found on the bottom of the unit and near the front. While only running at 533MHz the memory does get quite warm. The stock 1GB of memory has been replaced with a 2GB G.Skill memory module with heat spreader which had helped, but the unit still gets warm.
Battery life for the mini is rated at approximately 3 hours using the 3 cell battery. Realistically the mini starts to give up the ghost around 2.5 hours. Perhaps with lowered brightness and wifi and bluetooth turned off 3 hours is plausible. Regardless, during normal use the mini is good for just over 2 hours of use. A 6 Cell battery is available at the expense of more weight, more bulk and more money this reviewer will pass on the 6 cell.
The Mini ships with Windows XP SP3 and luckily includes very little HP software. HP includes a shortcut to register the unit, and a wifi/bluetooth manager which will allow independent operation of the bluetooth and wifi. Other than that the Mini is devoid of the typical bloatware that infests most systems.
The Accessories of the Vivienne Tam Edition only add to the excitement of the unit. The above mentioned proprietary VGA cable is available for anywhere from $35 to $70 USD although HP should have tossed it in for free considering the cost of the Vivienne Tam Edition. HP also has a matching mouse available in addition to a matching tote and scarf. The mouse typically retails for approximately $70 which is almost outrageous. Luckily the mouse can be found online for half that which while still expensive is much more reasonable. On the other hand, the matching tote and scarf will set you back an additional $125 at a minimum with average prices around $200. Once again, this reviewer will pass on those accessories reminding herself this is supposed to be a netbook.
- Beautifully Designed
- Matching Mouse
- Good speakers
- Vibrant display
- Weak Battery Life
- Only 2 USB ports
- Proprietary VGA
- Combo Headphone/Mic jack
- Horrible Webcam
- Slow 4200RPM 1.8 Inch HDD
Overall the HP Mini 1140NR Vivienne Tam Edition Digital Clutch is a good netbook. The Mini is lightweight which makes it a delight to carry on a daily basis and the design will attract compliments. However, it's weak battery, poor port choices and slow HDD make its' price at refurbished or retail pricing extremely elevated.