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HP Mini Note PC Blog - Part 2

Archive

A compact printer for your mini-note adventures?

It’s been awhile since I’ve been traveling and not had access to a printer, but for those of you who might travel to more exotic or less hospitable locations the PlanOn Printstik looks like a worthy portable printing companion. Weighing in at just 1.5lbs, including the paper cartridge and with dimensions of just 1″x10.75″x1.5″ it looks like the perfect match for your mini-note. At $25 for three print cartridges, each giving you 20 full pages (!) you better make sure your printing something mighty important.  Julie at The Gadgeter has the full review.

PlanOn PrintStik printer

 

Chrome on a stick? Carry your Google Browser everywhere you go

Strapped for space on your Netbook? Want to carry your essential apps in your pocket, with your car keys?  Well, Google’s new browser, Chrome has already been modified to run on a USB Stick.  You can find the browser for downloading at Carsten’s site (English translation).

Remember that Chrome only works on Microsoft Windows Netbooks (no Linux version). I haven’t tried it yet, but from the comments on the blog it appears to work as expected for many of the users who have.

Thanks to Amit at Digital Inspiration for publishing the link.

Drum roll…introducing the new Dell Inspiron 9

Rumored to be available on September 4th, the Dell Inspiron 9 specification is one of the web’s worst kept secrets. A number of blogs and sites have had “leaked” specifications and pictures of the new machine for some time, but the price has been an unknown. The folks over at UMPC portal have a very realistic looking price and spec sheet, showing the standard edition starting at $349 (no webcam, 512K of memory, 4 Gig SSD, running Ubuntu) to the $449 XP Edition (1Gig of memory, Web Cam, 8 Gig SSD). They also have a link to the full specification.

It will be interesting to see how Dell’s entry in to the Netbook world will compete against the established Netbooks already available from Asus, HP, MSI, Lenovo etc. If the price sheet is right, Dell won’t be the budget price champion.

Dell Inspiron Mini Note 9 photo

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.

Why you should download Google’s new browser, Chrome

Google launched a new platform browser today, Chrome. Chrome is fast and simple. Google have carefully stripped out any browser bloat, built a new Javascript engine (V8) optimized for today’s web browsing experience and open sourced the code. I downloaded and ran it on my hp mini-note and was very impressed with the performance and the simplicity of the interface. On Google Chrome, I was happily browsing with 10 open tabs and no performance degradation. I suggest you give it a try, I think you’ll be impressed.

Alternatively, you could try Internet Explorer 8 Beta, which was made available for download from Microsoft today. I didn’t.

Here’s a few screenshots from the mini-note running Google Chrome.

Google Chrome Thumbnails of your top sites

Google Chrome showing the bbc.co.uk web site

Interestingly, Microsoft Live Mail didn’t like Chrome and suggested I use another browser.

Microsoft Windows Live email doesnt like Chrome yet


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.

Virtual Desktops for your HP mini-note running Windows XP

Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight some of the best free software that is available for the HP mini-note, running Windows XP. Today, I’m recommending you take a look at a cool Open Source virtual windows manager.

We all know that the HP2133 mini-note has a great display. The 8.9 inch high resolution (1280 x 768) screen is perfect for viewing a single document, watching a movie or browsing the web, but since moving to Windows XP I miss the advanced virtual desktop software that comes with many of the Linux distributions, like Ubuntu. Recently to plug this functional gap, I installed an Open Source Virtual Windows Manager, called VirtuaWin. I’ve been running it on my mini-note now for a few weeks without problems. Now I can easily switch between web browsing, itunes, document editing and editing my blog with a single keypress. No more fussing around with minimizing & maximizing different windows etc. The software is initially configured for 4 virtual desktops, with simple navigation keys (which can be easily redefined) and has additional modules that you can use to add functionality. I kept the default number of desktops and modified some of the navigation keys. I’ve been using v4.0.1 which seems very stable.

You can download the software or read more about it at SourceForge.net (the home of all things Open Source).

Configuring virtuawin virtual desktop

Configuring VirtuaWin on the HP mini-note

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)