As you can see from the images, the HP Mini 5101 features a completely new look. While the HP Mini 2140 and HP 2133 Mini-Note shared a metallic gray brushed aluminum case, the new model is black. It also has a new chiclet-style keyboard which HP says is 95% size (compared with 92% on earlier models), and two buttons below the touchpad, rather than to the left and right sides, which is a welcome improvement.
The Mini 5101 also has 3 USB ports, including one which is powered, meaning it can provide electricity to certain peripherals, like HP’s optional USB DVD burner. The disc drive will set you back $149, which is a bit pricey for a USB DVD drive. But the fact that it doesn’t need a separate power cord is nice.
While the HP Mini 5101 has the same 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280 CPU found in many lower end netbooks, here are a few of the things that make it stand out from the crowd:
- It will be available with either an 80GB or 128GB solid state disk or a 7200rpm 160GB, 250GB, or 320GB hard drive, while most netbooks come with 5400rpm or 4200rpm hard drives.
- The netbook features a sturdy brushed metal aluminum lid and a magnesium alloy base.
- There’s a 2.0MP webcam instead of the 0.3 or 1.3MP cameras found on most netbooks.
- You’ll have a choice of a 10.1 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel glossy matte display or a higher resolution 10.1 inch 1366 x 768 pixel display.
- Like the HP Mini 2140, the Mini 5101 will include an accelerometer which shuts off the hard drive in the event of a fall, a spill-resistant keyboard, and HP’s durakey finish on the keyboard.
- The netbook includes 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and an optional Gobi EV-DO/HSPA module.
- The HP Mini 5101 will be available with Windows XP Home, XP Pro, Vista Home Basic, Vista Business, or SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11.
Some of these options won’t come cheap. The HP Mini 2140 offered an 80GB SSD that cost a whopping $575. HP says the prices for SSDs has come down, and the Mini 5101 SSD option won’t cost quite as much. But the SSD option is still a premium feature and ain’t going to be cheap.
The higher resolution display, on the other hand, should be available for around $25. Both the standard resolution and higher resolution screen should be available as options at launch.
The netbook is available with up to 2GB of RAM, although the base $449 model which comes with Windows XP Home will only be offered with 1GB. The HP Mini 5101 measures 10.3″ x 7.1″ x .09″ and weighs 2.6 pounds with a 4-cell, 29WHr battery.
A 6-cell, 55WHr battery, which will increase the weight and stick out from the bottom a bit, is also available. HP says the 4 cell battery should be good for about 4.5 hours, while the 6 cell battery should provide about 8 hours of run time.
HP is also offering a few accessories as part of the HP Mini 5101 ecosystem, including a $79 docking station, a $10 slipcase, and the previously mentioned USB DVD drive.
While HP has already pulled the Mini 2140 from some areas of its website, I’m told that the plan is to offer both the Mini 2140 and the 5101 for about 4 months before phasing out the 2140.
And for those of you holding out for the rumored HP Mini 2150 with 3G support, it turns out that’s not going to happen. It turns out that was just a rumor, and HP has no plans to release a 3G enabled version of the Mini 2140. Instead, the HP Mini 5101 is considered the follow-up to the Mini 2140.
You can find more photos of the HP Mini 5101, but I’ve saved one of the coolest feature for last.
You can remove the RAM access panel without a screwdriver. All you have to do is push two switches to pop out the battery, and once the battery is out push them again to pop off the door to the RAM access panel. I’ve never seen a netbook that makes it easier to upgrade or replace the RAM. The HP Mini 5101 supports up to 2GB of RAM.