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HP Mini 5101 netbook review

HP takes a second stab at the netbook with the Mini 5101. Is this the best portable corporate computer you can buy?

Wonderfully, HP has included a plentifully wide shift key on the right, as well as generous proportions for the Enter and Backspace keys. Inevitably, there's some compromise, with the F-keys on the top row available just from the Function shift, but that's a sensible choice with the shrunk down keys defaulting to brightness and volume controls.

There is some very slight rattle as you type, and the as the keys are raised you can actually see the innards of the machine, which might unnerve some, but it's still first rate for a netbook keyboard.

The display too is a cut above. It's just right for a netbook at 10.1in and the bright, sharp, clear display that wouldn't look out of place on any laptop. The use of LED backlighting plays a part with this. There's still some contrast shift as you move to the sides or peer down on the display, but viewed straight on, as most of the time you will be, this is as good as it gets for netbooks. A webcam sits in the display above the bezel and a small blue light illuminates when it's activated. The quality from the 2-megapixel image proved smooth and sharp in Skype.

Connectivity is generous, with three USB ports on offer, two on the left and one on the right, and there's also VGA and an SD card slot, as well as headphone and microphone slots and a Kensington lock slot. There's an Ethernet port too, and impressively, it's Gigabit rated, so if you need to transfer a large amount of data from the corporate network it won't take too long. There's plenty of space if you need to do this, thanks to the hefty Seagate Momentus 250GB hard disk inside, which formats down to 232GB under Windows XP.

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