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HP Mini 1000 – Further Impressions

March 3rd, 2009

Having had my HP Mini 1000 (or technically, a 1004TU) for about a couple of months now, I thought I’d write up some of my impressions that turn up after the initial “Ooh! Shiny!” aspect has worn off. Some of these I touched on in my original post.

Firstly, I do like the machine, and the keyboard is nice to type on. It’s the first thing that people notice, and several people have commented on getting a similar model solely because of the keyboard. What they don’t notice is the lack of back light, luminescent keys glyphs, or anything that lets you use it in the dark. Immediately after that observation, everyone complains that the mousepad buttons are weird – though the layout frees up space, and I’m used to it now – and that they keep hitting the touch pad when trying to type – which I also still do after two months.

After a bit of fluffing, it appears that HP will send me my cash back. This is good, because frankly, I think the initial price I saw it for (NZD$900) is over priced. It’s good, but it’s not that good. What follows now is a list of my gripes that are only mitigated by the fact that I got it for a steal during a boxing day sale at 20% off ($720 minus a further $100 via cash back). These issues aren’t enough to make me chuck it on trademe, and go buy something else, but they are annoying, and worth noting for anyone thinking of buying one.

In the normal course of events, such as putting the device in a bag, it’s possible for the screen to touch the keyboard. This leaves marks on the screen, which is bad. To alleviate this problem, the unit comes with this weird cloth thing that you need to put between the screen and the keyboard when you close it. Naturally, you will lose this cloth, repeatedly. A couple of rubber stops at the top of the screen would have fixed this, but clearly HP has decided short term sales aesthetics must override the long term usability of not having a smudged grid pattern permanently etched into the screen.

The battery just scrapes in at three hours. This is high enough to be useful, but low enough to be annoying. In addition, it takes about as long to recharge, which is also frustrating.

The sound volume is all kinds of weird. It’s impossible to hear anything until the volume is cranked up to about 85%, and then the volume rises rapidly. This weirdness actually prompted me to hunt down the volume control resolution in gconf (/apps/gnome_settings_daemon/volume_step), and may have caused temporary deafness a couple of times.

The bizarre ports configuration is where this netbook really falls down. The combination 3.5mm head/microphone jack means that I can’t use my regular headset for skype. and the built in microphone is rubbish. The obvious solution is to use bluetooth, but HP clearly felt that it was important to get that extra 50 cents they saved by removing bluetooth from my model. Of course, it’s possible to use a USB bluetooth module, but this takes away one of the two precious external USB ports. There is a third one, but that’s recessed a good 3cm into the case simply so HP can ream you once more for their propriety-but-not-really HP Mobile Drive, which is really just a generic USB drive with some extra plastic on it. Rounding off this lazy rendition of embrace and extend is the expansion port on the left side, which, in theory – supports power, USB, VGA, and audio, thus allowing a docking station of sorts.
Except that I still can’t buy cables for it. So, I have no VGA out, or docking capability.
They even managed to screw up the camera.

Finally, the screen tilts back just far enough to make it virtually impossible to use while crashed out on a couch. Words cannot express how much this disappoints me.

Finally, the ethernet is kind of buggy. If it’s not plugged in when you turn the device on then, you don’t have ethernet. If you then unplug said ethernet cable, the kernel panics and the whole machine locks up. Awesome.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy with my purchase, but only because I managed to get it at such a low price. If I’d paid the full price of $900 or so, I’d be feeling somewhat ripped right now.

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  1. Tom
    April 6th, 2009 at 07:21 | #1

    Pretty superficial complaints but seems rough. Most of these are true of all netbooks… I was fortunate enough to get one of these free, but just hope I didn’t ask for the wrong item. The comfort of typing on a near (92%) full size keyboard sounds nice to me and I plan on personally dropping the $90 to get a 6-cell battery.

    Aside from that… I hope it’s a good netbook. One thing I’ve been trying to figure out is if the “disk on key” is encrypted? Or just proprietary usb flash drive…nevertheless a dedicated spot for such things is a nice idea (since there are only 2 usb ports) but not being able to take that drive to other machines kinda defeats the purpose. IF it was encrypted and secure then I could see it as a benefit stand alone and separately used for the netbook. That makes sense. I mean stinks you can’t transfer, but nice that you can store important files in a nice secure place that even to attempt cracking it you first need the proprietary port! An extra deterrent…though in all honesty I doubt I’ll use it.

    I’m a web developer and think that it’s super great for travel and hope it can live up to what I need it for. Simply running a text editor to program some PHP and browse the net…

  2. b
    April 30th, 2009 at 07:47 | #2

    I am having the same problems with the headset/mic on my mini hp 1000. Do they sell any integrated mic/headsets that come with only one jack? Is bluetooth the only way to go?

  3. edward
    May 4th, 2009 at 14:57 | #3

    @b
    There are headsets that offer combination plugs, but these will not work on the HP Mini socket.

    After some digging through the HP site, I found the ‘HP Mini 1000 Netbook
    Maintenance and Service Guide’ at http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c01683469.pdf

    According to the manual (Chapter 9, page 100), only two pin outs modes are listed. This indicates to me that it’s not possible to use the socket in a ‘hybrid mode’. I would like to be wrong.

    So, if you don’t want to use a headset, the options are either a bluetooth headset, or a USB headset.

  4. Josh
    June 4th, 2009 at 19:42 | #4

    Hey edward,

    I was having a look at getting a netbook the same as yours (model 1004tu).. just wondering if it has the “hidden” 3G feature described below?

    http://forum.pocketables.net/showthread.php?t=1354

    seems rather cool and if it works i’m considering on getting one!

    Cheers :)

  5. edward
    June 5th, 2009 at 11:02 | #5

    @Josh
    Having pulled it apart to replace the motherboard, I can confirm the presence of the SIM card slot, antenna and almost all the appropriate other bits.

    However… it currently lacks a 3G modem, but there is a slot on the motherboard for this. The HP part linked to in that forum is; http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06c/A10-51210-1130359-1130363-1130359-3788189-3788190-3788196.html

    I have not tested this, since data plans in NZ are stupidly expensive.

    Installing the modem shouldn’t require anything more than a set of mini screwdrivers and bit of patience though. Due to the way the unit is tightly held together, I recommend having the Maintenance and Service Guide ( http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/manualCategory?cc=us&dlc=en&product=3838223&lc=en&jumpid=reg_R1002_USEN ) open while doing this.

  6. edward
    June 5th, 2009 at 11:08 | #6

    @Tom
    Superficial? Perhaps. However, I don’t think it would have been too much to ask to use a standard external display connector, and a separate audio jack for headphones and microphone.

    As to the disk on key, no – it’s not encrypted. It’s just a normal USB key with a bit of plastic on the end to make it lie flush with the casing.

  7. bill
    June 25th, 2010 at 11:58 | #7

    I have been frustrated at not being able to use my Mini with a headset because most of them require two ports, one for sound and the other for the mic. I have not been able to find an adapter that will take the standard two 3.5 mm plugs and convert things to one four component 3.5 mm plug. Today I found the next best thing, an inexpensive and very light weight headset that is set up primarily to use a four component 3.5 mm connection and it works perfectly with Magicjack. The headset is made by GE and is a model 20615. Look hard enough and you can find an answer to most problems.

  8. Edward
    July 12th, 2010 at 16:41 | #8

    @bill
    The magickjack appears to simply be a USB soundcard. That is a solution, but I’d have much preferred to have two jacks, like every other netbook out there.

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