updated 12:10 am EDT, Tue April 8, 2008
Slightly ahead of a formal release, HP has revealed the Mini-Note, one of the few Western attempts at entering the field for micro notebooks. The previously leaked system aims to improve the formula started by the Eee PC by offering a genuinely comfortable keyboard: despite having just an 8.9-inch screen, the Mini-Note's keyboard is just 8 percent smaller than that of a full-sized notebook. The design is also more upscale than counterparts from ASUS or Everex and is built out of aluminum with a spill-resistant key layout.
Unlike most of its budget counterparts, the HP is aimed at the higher end of the range and can scale upwards. Systems are clocked higher than the 900MHz Celeron of the Eee and instead run at least a 1GHz Via C7-M; the screen matches the size of the Eee PC 900 but is sharper at 1280x768. Systems also run full, unsimplified versions of operating systems; the starter model still runs SuSE Linux, while the fastest models can run Windows Vista or XP.
A base version of the Mini-Note starts at $499 with the base processor, 512MB of memory, a 4GB solid-state drive, and Linux. An ultimate trim level at $1,199 adds a 1.2GHz processor, doubles memory, and adds a 64GB flash drive. Buyers can also customize the system with differing levels of processors and storage, including conventional hard drives up to 160GB. A mid-range model on Amazon adds the extra CPU and RAM but opts for a less costly 120GB hard drive and continues to use Linux. A webcam is optional.
HP has yet to post an official page but expects the Mini-Note to leave factories by next week.