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Hardware | HP Mini Note PC Blog - Part 2

Archive for the 'Hardware' Category

Trying to decide which Netbook to buy?

Kevin at Gigaom.com has got some basic information on the different netbooks (including the HP mininote) available for purchase today. He covers the Asus EeePC, HP Mini-note, Acer Aspire One and the MSI wind. Kevin doesn’t cover any new ground in this quick guide, but it’s a good primer if your in the market for a new mini pc/netbook.

If your interested in more comprehensive analysis of what to look for when buying your netbook, check out the shopping tips and recommendations in Jeffrey Wilson’s article over at laptopmag.com. Jeffrey selected the HP2133 mini-note in the category of best mini pc over $500, looking at HP’s high end mininote offering for $729. He selected the ASUS Eee PC 4g in the less than $400 category and the MSI Wind NB in the $400-500 category.

Mini notebook deals on techbargains.com

Techbargains.com (a favorite site of mine) have put together a list of the different mini notebooks that are available today, or available for pre-order. They include the Asus EEE, HP Mini-note, MSI Wind (pre-order) & Acer Aspire One (pre-order). With the list they have include some basic specifications and a link to where the product can be ordered or the appropriate price grabber page.

Alernative power cable for the mini-note

The cable that comes with the mini-note power supply has a three prong electrical plug, potentially limiting the places where you can power up and recharge your battery. Cables Unlimited provide a retractable notebook power cord, which not only enables you to plug your mini-note in to any power outlet, it provides a convenient way to carry a good cable length. I plan to pick one up for my next trip.

It’s available from amazon.com.

A new, improved HP2133 Mini-note

After successfully upgrading my first HP Mini-note to 2GB of memory with a 120GB hard drive, I decided that when I upgraded my second machine I would use the largest (reasonably priced) capacity hard drive available.

So, for my second system upgrade I selected a WD Scorpio 320GB SATA drive ($129.99) and a 2GB memory stick (KVR667D2S0/2GR) from Kingston ($40.99). To reduce the setup time of the new machine, I also created an image of the hard drive from my first mini-note installation using Acronis True Image and restored the image to the new hard drive.

Unfortunately the process of creating and restoring the hard drive image was not as straight forward as I expected, and I was unable to restore the drive image back to the new hard drive directly in the second mini-note, due to the Acronis boot loader causing the mini-note to hang. It’s certainly possible that Acronis has resolved this issue with later versions of their software (I was running v8, and their latest version is v11).

Instead, I restored the image to the second drive by using a hardware device that enables you to plug any hard drive in to your USB port (these devices are called SATA to USB hard drive adapters). The mini-note recognized the hard drive without a problem through the USB hardware device and I simply restored the image from my 120GB drive to the 320GB drive and dropped the drive in to my second mini-note. To complete the process, I formatted the unused space on the 320GB drive.

Presto, my second mini-note was upgraded to a 320GB hard drive, 2GB of RAM, running Windows XP SP2 (Home Edition) with all my applications already loaded and installed. Total installation time for upgrading the RAM, replacing the SSD drive, system image creation and restoration was about 90 minutes.

In building out this second mini-note, it appears that the wireless card in my first machine is actually faulty. I now need to figure out how I can get it exchanged after making so many system modifications.

Here’s links to the parts and products I used from the modder’s good friend, NewEgg.com:

Hard Drive

Memory

SATA to USB hard drive adapter

Acronis True Image

Mini USB Game pad enhances the Mini note gaming experience

If your a HP2133 mini note gamer, you might want to consider picking up a mini usb Game pad. I found this gamepad at my local Walmart and was very impressed with the size, sturdiness and general build quality. At $11 and requiring no drivers to work with your mini note (Windows XP), I think it was a real bargain. You can also find them on ebay.

USB Gamepad in use with MAME

Gamemon USB Game pad in action with the HP2133 mini note

usb gamepad comparison with HP2133 mini note

Gamemon USB Game pad is slightly thicker than the mini note

Gamemon USB Gamepad

The Gamemon USB Game pad has a retractable USB cable (ideal for traveling)

usb game pad size comparison with HP2133 mini note

A quick size comparison of the Gamemon USB Game pad with the mini note

gamemon usb game pad boxed

The Gamemon USB Game pad in the retail packaging (from Walmart)

Upgrading the HP2133 mini-note hard drive (with photos)

Upgrading the drive in the HP2133 mini-note is straight forward, as long as you have a steady hand and the right tools at your disposal. I took some photos of the internals of my mini-note during the upgrade from the 4gig SSD that comes with the base model, to a 120gig Western Digital drive. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you will need and the steps involved.

What you’ll need:

- A very small philips (crosshead) screwdriver
- A small torx head driver (or you can use a very small slotted screw driver)
- A pair of pliers
- A notebook SATA drive (i used a Western Digital Scorpio drive)

All the tools can be obtained from your local hardware store. I bought my hard drive from newegg.

How long will it take:

About 15-30 minutes (it took me about 20 minutes once I located the correct tools for the job).

Step-by-Step:

- Remove the battery
- Remove the three philips screws located behind the battery
- Gently lift up the keyboard to access both the memory slot and the hard drive enclosure
- Position the keyboard where you can easily access the drive enclosure (I placed it at the front of the mini-note - see photos)
- Remove the two philips screws holding the drive enclosure (on the left hand side)
- Remove the torx head screw holding the drive enclosure (on the right hand side)
- Gently lift up the drive enclosure, and disconnect the SATA cable

- Unscrew the factory drive from the enclose and replace it with your new drive

(To complete this step you may need to carefully bend back several tabs on the drive enclosure, the 4 Gig SSD that comes with the base model is smaller than a regular note book SATA drive)

- Re-install the drive in the mini-note (I suggest you insert the torx head screw first, as I dropped it a couple of times in to the machine and had to take out the two philips screws more times than I would like)
- I suggest that you don’t screw the unit back together until your sure that your new drive is functional

When you power the machine back up, you should hit F10 to look at the ROM (BIOS) setup to make sure your drive has been recognized.

After installing the drive, I loaded Windows XP Home on to the mini-note, and I’m so happy I did after my experiencing with SUSE!

Photo’s:

HP2133 Mini-note

The mini-note after carefully lifting up the keyboard

HP2133 Mini-note drive enclosure

The drive enclosure inside the mini-note

HP2133 Mini-note drive removed

The mini-note drive bay, with the drive enclosure removed
HP2133 Mini-note drive comparison

The original 4gig SSD drive (left) and the Western Digital 120gig SATA drive (right)

HP2133 mini-note 4gig SSD

Close up of the 4gig SSD that comes with the mini-note

Windows XP Drivers now available on HP Support Site

It looks like HP is starting to get their act together to support the Mini-note. They have just posted Microsoft Windows XP drivers for most of the hardware in the Mini-note. The drivers can be found at:

http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/…

XP on a USB Stick

Brad Linder at Liliputing.com has gone to considerable trouble to explain in detail how to get Windows XP on to a USB stick so you can install it on your HP2133 mini note. He also explains in the article how to then partition the drive after installation for use with Linux or other operating systems using Parted Magic (an Open Source hard disk partitioner).Parted Magic Screenshot

http://www.liliputing.com/2008/04/install-windows-xp…

HP2133 mini-note memory upgrade

Laptopmag.com has a video of Joanna Stern upgrading the memory on her mini-note from the factory shipped 1 Gig module to a Corsair branded DDR2 SO-DIMM 2 Gig module. Unfortunately for Joanna, it really didn’t help the system performance running Windows Vista. Sorry Joanna.

http://blog.laptopmag.com/upping-the-ram-on-the-mini-note…

Do HP “really” want my opinion?

I’ve been struggling with the HP2133 mini note since I picked it up and opened the box on Saturday morning. Three days of tweaking, and I’m no closer to getting the wireless networking to work correctly. Looking at the community forums, I am not alone in my frustration.

On HP’s official support Forum, John O’Hara has had no response to his question. http://forums12.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do…

On Notebook Forums, the wireless issue has been discovered several times:

http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=241040

On netbookuser.com, some help was offered, but I’ve been unable to resolve the issue following Mike’s advice:

http://forum.netbookuser.com/viewtopic.php?id=512

and finally, mininoteuser.com has several posting about the issue with wi-fi including: http://forums.mininoteuser.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=97

A couple of things I have learned from following these various discussion threads:

- The wi-fi switch on the front of the computer does work, it always stays orange but when wireless is enabled if you stare at the light very hard, you can see a hint of blue (just try it out and let me know if you can see the difference).

- Almost all the issues that Linux users are experiencing are resolved when they “upgrade” their system to Windows XP. There’s a step-by-step guide to the upgrade process available on the mininoteuser.com web site.I think I can “trick-out” my mini note to run XP for a couple of hundred dollars (more memory, different hard drive and a copy of Windows XP Home Edition) or I suppose I could have just bought the Windows configuration if I really wanted to run Windows….

Today, HP requested my opinion on my mini note buying experience by asking me to complete a survey. If you bought an HP2133 mini note with SuSe Enterprise Desktop 10 (i.e. Linux) and your having the same issues as most of the community I strongly suggest you complete this survey and give HP your personal information so they can contact you.I’ll let you know what happens when I get the “call”.