Left: HP Mini 2140 (HD) / Right: Lenovo IdeaPad S10

Editor’s Note: When Tommy approached me about writing this article, I had no idea it would come on a day when Acer and Lenovo both announced plans to release high resolution versions of their netbooks. As it turns out, that makes today a great time to talk about the pros and cons of higher resolution displays on Intel Atom-powered netbooks.

When you think about netbooks, you think about portability first.  8.9″ and 10.1″ or 10.2″ screens have been the norm, giving us small form factors and lightweight machines.  And one of the prices to pay for these small screens has been the low 1024 by 600 (0r even 1024 x 576) pixel resolution.  With the LED backlighting, they’re good and usable, but 600 vertical pixels (minus the 30-100 pixels of various taskbars and menubars, for example) just might not be enough.  And while Brad may have gotten to play with the HP Mini 2140 earlier, I have been living with the 1366 by 768 pixel HD version for the past two weeks.

High resolution laptop panels have been around for a while.  Dell laptops have been sporting WXGA and higher resolutions. But the high resolution screens for netbooks have been rare.  Of course HP’s first netbook, the 2133 Mini-Note sported a 1280 by 768 pixel 8.9″ screen.  While some people found this to be eye-squintingly sharp – certainly the screen real estate alone was something to consider.

HP’s new HD version of the Mini 2140 has a 10.1″ screen with a resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels.  This comes out to roughly 155.2 ppi (pixels per inch).  Just what does this mean, anyway?  Well, this is roughly how smooth or sharp an image can look.  For comparison, the iPhone/iPod Touch has a very sharp and crisp display, at 164 ppi (that’s 320 by 480 pixels on a 3.5″ screen) – and our trusty friend the 1024 by 600, 10.1″ screen has a ppi of 117.5 (the 8.9″ screens are about 133.3 ppi).  The 2140’s HD screen is very sharp, with lots of space for open windows.

Having so much more space is a welcome change – less scrolling, more screen area – I feel like I’m using a much more powerful machine.  Of course it’s only an illusion, but I really do appreciate being able to work without maximizing every window I’m working in.  The fit and finish of the HP Mini 2140 HD is solid – as Brad mentions in the earlier review – it masks the plastic-y feel netbooks often have.  The keyboard is a joy to type on (even with a noticeably narrower wristrest), and the horizontal touchpad does take some getting used to – a few minutes of practice, and I’m sure anyone would pick it up.  If you don’t have good eyesight, the screen resolution could be a bit troubling – check out the differences in how webpages are displayed in the picture above.

Having more pixels to push present a bit of a problem when viewing full screen Flash-powered video.  Sites that allow you to cache or pre-buffer content will work (on YouTube and Vimeo I like to hit pause and then wait until the video finishes loading), but sites that like to stream content as you watch (such as Hulu) are a bit choppy, as Brad’s seen before.  Personally, I have updated to the latest version of Adobe Flash, and am using Mac OS X – so my results might be different.  What really matters is that the HD screen does have 40% more area to display, and loading a video while playing it does stress the processor, graphics, and system bus components.

I’ve been using netbooks for about a year now, starting off with the MSI Wind, getting a Lenovo S10, and finally now getting to use the HP Mini 2140 HD.  If there’s one thing to be said it’s that we’re in a maturing market.  The Lenovo S10’s form factor and construction put it a step above the earlier MSI Wind; the HP Mini 2140 HD takes it a step further.  The welcome return of the 2133’s metallic finish and the excellent, bright, and sharp HD screen puts it past the competition.

So… is anyone interested in buying a gently used Lenovo S10?

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26 replies on “HP Mini 2140… HD!”

  1. Unfortunately I can’t install Win7 RC on my 2140 I think because of the screen native screen resolution of 1024x 576. I’m struggling to find a solution.

  2. I love the 2140, but I’ve gotten really used to having a built-in 3G modem. I guess I have to wait for the 2150 HD; I hope it won’t be another six months for that.

  3. Thank you for your e-mail to HP.

    Whilst we can appreciate your frustration, unfortunately the HD version of the Mini2140 will not be available to the UK market.


    HP UK&I

    Hewlett-Packard Limited registered Office: Cain Road, Bracknell, Berks RG12 1HN
    Registered No: 690597 England

    The contents of this message and any attachments to it are confidential and may be legally privileged. If you have received this message in error, you should delete it from your system immediately and advise the sender.

    To any recipient of this message within HP, unless otherwise stated you should consider this message and attachments as “HP CONFIDENTIAL”.

  4. I am based in the UK and I have tried to extract information from HP regarding the date that the 2140 HD version will be available here. Unfortunately every method I have used so far has failed. Does anyone have any information as to when the 2140 HD may make it to these shores?

    1. The posting on here about the HD not being available in the UK has disappeared. Why?

  5. I just received my 2140 w/ HD, and am pleased with it. I too wanted to convert to OSX. Is everything working, and do you have a link with instructions you followed? My search revealed a few 2140’s w/ OSX, but all had remaining issues with some components not working.

  6. “…While some people found this to be eye-squintingly sharp…”

    Another of “Windows-isms” of IT world… Funny thing is, OS X, seen visible in the photo, is quite a bit better in area of resolution independence / scaling of UI. As are Linux DEs. And TBH current versions of Windows are also good enough for it not to be an issue.

    But somehow people haven’t ever heard about changing the size of fonts…

    1. not all programs respect font scaling. hell, even microsoft still sells major software packages that don’t pay attention to it – which was enough of an issue that i had to replace a 19″ lcd with a 19″ crt at work a couple weeks ago, to get a specific set of dialog windows readable for one user. (granted, nobody is going to be doing medium business billing on a netbook)

      and then there are images…

      1. Like I said, “windows-isms”, apparently. Let’s move on already… (especially since on a netbook it’s hardly a problem, with them typically beeing used for www/im/writing)

        1. well, that’s the other problem. there are a lot of websites that play VERY poorly with anything other than 96dpi fonts, and that’s completely cross platform.

          1. This is in large part failing of many browsers/browser engines.

            I regularly scale websites while browsing (also use “fit to width” function) and see no major issues. Using Opera (kinda makes sense it’s good at it, with their major focus beeing on mobile/embedded stuff)

          2. There’s a Firefox extension that sets the default zoom level, both globally and on a per site basis (it does a bit more than the built-in per-site zoom). With that, it’s not a problem.

    1. Also – consider a DUAL BOOT – with the 2140 – Get the Windows XP Professional version as then you can DISABLE TCP/IP and never have windows see the internet (but can still run local windows applications). THEN, install Ubuntu 9.04 onto the netbook in one partition, and have another partition running CrunchBang Linux (as CrunchBang is very very fast and your videos will run better with a less “intrusive” GUI running at the same time. CrunchBang uses a “window manager” vs a Graphical Desktop, and starts up with only about 100 MB of RAM, so with low overhead it is one of the quickest and most usable (as you can use Ubuntu repositories) Linux versions ever.

      1. This sounds very interesting. Assumning that you have this sort of setup in use, if you feel like elaborating, what sorts of video require CrunchBang to run smoothly and what sorts do OK with Ubuntu or XP? Or if you don’t have it in use yet, I’d be interested in any thoughts you care to share. (For example, do you think there’d be problems streaming from a webcam to an HD netbook using XP or Ubuntu?)

        1. Have done dual boot for a long time. Easy to set up with Ubuntu or Crunchbang install. Lots of help. Google is your friend about how to set up dual boot. So, been using Crunchbang for quite a while… first with the LINUX version of the 2133 that came with slowest 4GB SSD on the planet, and it also came with Novell’s SLED Linux (SLED was locking up all the time on that system because of the SSD being so slow that I think that wait states were being messed up very badly, and it was terrible). Installed Crunchbang and it was a completely different machine. It actually worked for a change. However, with even a faster SSD than it had, it ran even better. Waiting for the RunCore newest SSDs to be released as they are on PRE-ORDER status now, and it is true that stuff like SWAP, and much OS and Application overhead uses a lot of Hard Drive acess getting everything put to bed as the system runs… and so, smaller files like in the video of the RunCore SSD above. I was building RAM disks on the original IBM PC and this SSD demonstrated by JKK is very interesting (RunCore does make some other ones, just not this fast as the newer one)…. So, I am sure, due to testing on other SSDs that this machine will be extremely fast, and like JKK has shown in his video where he demonstrated video improvement, that the speed improvement with the same RunCore IV SSD will be easily noticed on the 2140 (that is unless HP has set a cap on speeds that don’t let us see the numbers that the Dell Mini 10 is showing on the same JKK demonstrated system with the new RunCore SSD). in other words, to protect the market of the bigger Laptops that HP wants to seem to be better, HP could still have messed up the 2140 HD model, but I doubt that they did. IF they did I will report how stupid that they are, once the RunCore IV SSD is here and run on the 2140. I suggest you go to Crunchbang site, and download the newest .iso file for the 9.03.1 version when it shows up. Note that the key maintainer of Crunchbang got married and went on Honey Moon before he could get the final .iso done… so, for now, until he gets back this next week or so, to get the new Crunchbang installed, just go do a minimal Ubuntu install, then go to the Crunchbang site and look for the install script. And you are good to go.

          Google DUAL boot Ubuntu and XP Pro… lots of help.

          1. Thanks for all the info and tips. Now you’ve got me interested in using Crunchbang to revive a couple of old desktops as well 🙂

          2. Another option is to put Ubuntu on a thumb drive or other USB drive. I’ve got 9.04 on 6 Gig of a 16 Gig thumb. It keeps the boot managers separate. Win XP and Windows 7 trial dual booting on the main drive, or boot into the USB drive and get the Ubuntu boot manager. It seems to run a little slow when it needs to access the thumb drive but not too bad.

  7. what.. you’re running osx on it 😀 your experiences .. ? annything not working ?

  8. One thing’s for sure: the Mini 2140 clearly has a superior display when it comes to brightness and colors, if the photo at the top of the article is any indication.

    The HD screens showing up in netbooks are nice, but what good do they really do when netbooks have such terrible integrated graphics?

  9. My Mini 10 struggles with streaming video as it is, I can’t imagine it with the HD screen. So far I’m fine with the low-res version anyway, and don’t seem to notice it being a bother even when switching between my Macbook and the Mini 10.

  10. HD is likely here to stay so we really do need final versions of new graphics chips in place now, there is not time to waste anymore.

    I suppose the industry is still trying to come to grips that netbooks are not going anywhere. The wishful thinking that what was already in the bid in the warehouse is good enough is gone. There is a need immediately for a slew of more powerful, energy efficient GPU chip sets that also have an associated lower cost.

    At this time I simply wouldn’t buy a netbook with a higher-res screen without a better video hardware under the hood. Sadly this seems to indicate that some of the power we might have seen from new video hardware will be lost in this lateral move to higher resolution screens, but maybe that will prompt development of the needed chip-sets too.

    1. What I want more than anything is them to cram more powerful CPU’s and GPU’s into the 2140 ( the guts of the new MSI X series ones perhaps ). I’m sure there is a way to make em fit 🙂

      It’s the form factor I’m after, something the size of a 10″ screen won’t get crushed by the guy in front of you on the airplane when he puts his seat back. The subnote ‘executive’ notebooks are turds for built quality, they all have the thin wobbly screens that I’m just very concerned will break if you look at them funny.

  11. What about the dust getting trapped behind the glossy screen cover and the display?

    1. I have not heard of this issue – while it’s definitely possible, I think the seams are pretty well sealed off.

  12. Good to hear positive comments on the 2140 HD, Mine is somewhere on the slowboat from china ( which i am REALLY hoping is an airplane vs boat 🙂 ), I also plan to throw OSX on it, I was debating getting a bigger HD as well since they’re so cheap now. we’ll see when it arrives i guess.

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