Review: HP 2133 Mini-Note

Shawn Powers reviews the HP Mini-Note portable computer.

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I like the Mini-Note

Anonymous's picture

The next time I buy a notebook, I hope I can find one like the 2133 Mini Note.
I have had mine for one year and I love it. It came with XP but I removed that and installed Ubuntu Jaunty. Versions of Ubuntu earlier than Jaunty do not install easily. I did not have a problem with the wifi and the only video problem I see is that if the Mini Note is left on so that it sleeps or if the screen blanks, it is unstable and freezes. Hibernating the Mini works great, but sleeping it does not.

Ubuntu Karmic was a problem with the Mini but to be fair, I had worse problems with Karmic on my desktop machine and had to roll back to Jaunty.

I installed openSUSE 11.2 on the Mini Note yesterday just to try it and it runs a little better than Ubuntu did but the aforementioned video problem persists. The workaround is not to allow the Mini Note to idle so that it goes to sleep or that the video blanks.

2133 & video

Anonymous's picture

Yeah, I wish I had thought about the video drivers being an issue; didn't even cross my mind.
That has become my biggest suggestion when asked about getting one. "Find a forum & read the reviews."
It is a nice little netbook, tho, & I do run wubi on it for the times I know that I want to get on & pay bills, etc.

HP 2133: h key launches help. F key launches firefox, no net

patricia's picture

I am so disappointed. Everything I read about the HP 2133 raved about its quality and features. I bought one to take traveling instead of the MacBookPro. It came today and I can't believe how frustrating it is. anytime I try to type a word containing H, when I press the H key a help window opens. F key opens firefox but there is no wireless connection. The wireless light on front is amber. I cannot access any screens that require administrator password because mine contains an H so (non)Help launches. For example, when I try to type Wi fi into the help window, as soon as I hit F a firefox window takes over, worse yet, it announces it cannot load the page.

I am new to Linux but have heard so many good things about it I was expecting something more user friendly.

It seems like some command has designated these keys as hotkeys and they are working that way without holding down ctrl or something. Is there a way to toggle it off?

There are more annoyances but these are enough, if anyone could respond. Have not even gotten far enough to see if webcam, speakers or other stuff works. I don't even want to think about the hassle and expense of returning the thing to Amazon.



IsleofMan_Dan's picture

Saw the 2133, was impressed by the spec and the price, so did some reviews and jumped in with one for the wife, with the SLED rather than the XP version. Am hugely disappointed at its out of the box functionality and usability compared to the distro on the eee PCs. My wife is low-tech - wants a mini netbook to browse the net and send e-mail. End of story. And yet out of the box, the webcam doesn't work, the wireless is temperamental and the desktop is clunky.

And this is the problem - Linux just isn't ready to be put into the hands of low-tech users. Look all over the web and you'll see people saying 'got it to work, but took a while' or 'I had to recompile the kernel' or 'just extract the .inf file and you're away' That's not how the average user works. And technically SLED has the support of a major corp. behind it in Novell.

It needs to work, and out of the box. Will maybe try and install Ubuntu or another distro, but at the moment, not overly impressed.

help!! please!!!

Jason's picture

this is my first mini-pc to own as well as my first time dealing with linux. my HP 2133 was cool straight out of the box. then, everything turned to crap.. i've got no audio through my speakers or my headphones. microphone doesn't wanna work. webcam doesn't work either and i'm desperately trying to find out where to get the drivers needed to make this retarded computer work right.

the computer was given to me by my older brother as a gift and i don't intend to sell it or give it away or just pack it back up and not use it. not aiming to hurt people's feelings here.

anybody that can help me out, please do. i'm stuck trying to understand what little support the HP techs can give and don't know anyone here on island competent enough to help.

Try 'splainin' gadgets to the wife

rob enderle's picture

Sorry but I have a financial advisor who happens to share my bed and she keeps me from doing stupid things like paying 1000$ for a gaming console (800$ for the PS3, plus a game an accessories and 15% tax is over 1K) so this just netbook just wont fly.

Without even going into desktops, we have a T21 that runs Kubuntu very well and a Toshiba Protege that runs very, very well.

Her sister has an EEE and her best friend got an Acer One so she was asking about those mini notebooks that runs that Leenox thing we use at home. She happened to pass by with our eldest at a computer store to buy something with him and she saw the HP. Then she saw the 799$ and went no way. We are not paying close to 1000$ (w/ tax) for another laptop.

In the meantime, Ive done some research and the Dell E (or maybe its back to Dell Mini) seems very interesting with some mentions of Ubuntu Remix (I can install my on but Id like to see a manufacturers effort just like the Acer/Linpus) and maybe even one of those instant-on bootups.
But especially attractive is the 299$ starting price.

I dont want a laptop. I have a great one and a good one.
She needs something small, portable and cheap to do what these machines can do. i wnt something I can take to the cafe and not worry about being mugged or leaving it in my gym bag in the car.
If I want to access the net for 5 mins, I have a smartphone. But ask me to read something on a 3 inch screen for longer than that and its pretty hopeless. Doing real work? Forget it. Yeah, you CAN if you have to.
The netbook falls in between that quick 5min glance of the smartphone and the hours spent on my main laptop.
30-45mins of proofreading and correcting proposals and minutes of meetings, emails and so on is what I see this machine do.

But the financial advisor is steadfast against over paying for this gadget.
On the other hand, $299 is an impulse buy (almost) and unless the Dell E gets ravaged by reviews, it looks like this is the one we will buy.

We actually are thinking of buying two and giving one as wedding gift to her cousin.

We spent money and buy ourselves certain nice things but we dont throw money out the window.
For the 30mins a day we plan to use this thing, why should we overpay?

BTW, you made me laugh with the size thing. ALL netbooks coming out this year are at 8.9 inches. Its like touting that your computer has a USB2 port. They all do.

Great little nugget

John R.'s picture

I have been looking for a small, well-built mini-laptop for years. Based on research and Shawn's review I bought the HP Mini-Note with SuSe.

Shawn is spot-on about the screen and the keyboard. The metal case also gives this the feeling of durability (we'll see in practice :) ).

A couple of points: On first machine boot, SuSe starts out in install mode. I'm from RedHat-land, so I was reasonably familiar with what was going on, but the DOS-like screen text was garbled. I fumbled through it successfully, but less brave souls beware.

Also I did not have a problem with the Broadcom network driver as mentioned in Shawn's review (not clear to me if he was referring to Ubuntu). Maybe HP has fixed this. Anyway I have WiFi up in my home without a password and when SuSe was installed and booted, Firefox had no trouble surfing the web. No messy configuration (NDIS or otherwise) required.

So far, I'm very, very pleased. This is exactly the small system I've been searching for! Kudos to HP!

Are you paid by Canonical to push their product?

tracyanne's picture

You could have pointed out that one can install any other Linux distribution in place of SuSE, but you pointedly mentioned Ubuntu, to the exclusion of mentioning any other Linux Distribution. In fact you came across as specifically running an Add for that particular Linux Distribution.

Why not point out, that people could install almost any other Linux? Why not point out that Mandriva Linux works exceptionally well on the Mini Notebooks, as it has been optimised for mini Notebooks.

But it's a VIA V7

Anonymous's picture

And while I like the intention and the features behind VIA V7...

Linux support is bad as in really bad. Ethernet is bad. SATA is bad. The drivers are not actively maintained. Do a search for VIA V7 Linux drivers. It will scare you away.


LOTR Account

LOTR Account 's picture

Their character is the doctor, and to add others LOTR Account .

Too much coffee???

Triple Shot's picture

Shawn, good review but you could make it better if you moved a LOT less and didn't juggle the product. Distracting. Much better when you sit down, have the products on the table, and point.

Poor old Adobe Flash has a much harder time on my ancient computer due to all of the unnecessary motion and my DSL connection was very choppy playing the video. Most youtube videos work fine, but this one had lots of pauses to catch up.

Looking forward to reviews of the Dell "E" mini-laptop, MSI Wind and Acer Aspire ONE. BTW, I love the August issue.

Comment page requires typing in new CAPTCHA for every use of "preview" button. Shouldn't ONCE be sufficient?

Interesting review, but...

ganson's picture

I was very impressed with the specs on the HP 2133 Mini-Note when I first heard about it, however upon further reading, and also from watching your video review, I am far from impressed as a Linux user.

I realize it is not that hard these days to get Linux working with Broadcom chip sets, but that doesn't mean I want to fart around with ndiswrapper to get it working (especial if you may not have a wired connection to download it with).

Graphics card incompatibilities are also generally a deal breaker for myself and many others when it comes to getting a Linux computer. As a Ubuntu and Debian user, I tend to stay away from hardware that is not supported out of the box.I realize SUSE is better supported for this hardware, but between my preference for Ubuntu, and dislike of Novell, I will stay clear of it.

I would have to honestly say that the HP 2133 is better suited to Vista Home Basic users than Linux users.

I am still waiting for the reviews of the MSI Wind, new models of Eee PC 901 and 1000, and the new Dell E before I make my choice of Netbooks to purchase. The Mini-Note is not making my wishlist this time around.

Oh, and Shawn, please don't be afraid to badmouth a product when you review it. Your readers will thank you for your honesty.

King of UMPC?

rotten777's picture

I'll be honest, the 2133 looks good. My only reservation (as someone who is waiting for the perfect UMPC, cash in hand) is that:
1) I won't buy it unless it has great hardware support in linux
2) It does not have a Windows license/sticker/price tag
I'm not a big fan of SLED but even then if you had to monkey around with NDIS and such, that's a deal breaker for me. I refuse to be the red headed step child when it comes to buying a computer from a large manufacturer. I don't mean to sound like an ass but as popular as linux is, there should be no problem getting a decent notebook, desktop, umpc, phone, etc. that supports it fully.

I'm not a zealot but I play one on the Internet.

When there is a perfectly supported UMPC, I'll be picking one up.

Oh, I'm Not. ;)

Shawn Powers's picture

Yeah, I'm not a afraid to badmouth, but I generally try to keep it constructive as opposed to nasty. It's my hope that vendors listen to the things I say, and do something about it. If I'm just a ranty S.O.B., they're more likely to just cuss at their computer monitor and keep on walking.

I really do like the HP-2133. I bought an EeePC, and the HP is so much more functional as a mini notebook for me. (For me. Ultimately, reviews are largely about opinions, your views are of course allowed to be different)

I too am anxious to try the MSI Wind. The Eee 901 still has the same form factor, and thus the same keyboard as the 701, which makes it hard for me to use in large doses.

Anyone that has asked me recently what mini notebook to buy is usually advised to wait just a bit to see what Dell, MSI, etc bring to the table in upcoming months.

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

Reviews coming up...

Carlie Fairchild's picture

Hi ganson - we've got reviews of at least two of the machines you mention above in our queue. Assuming further cooperation from the vendors, we should hopefully have these available relatively soon. I'll work on getting the other two for you, too. :) Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.

Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.


lapubell's picture

I would love to see a review of the openmoko freerunner. they are shipping now and I would like to hear what you guys have to say about it.

MSI Wind

Anonymous's picture

I've been closely watching the UMPC arena waiting for something that caught my eye. At the moment that's the MSI Wind, I'd love to see you guys review the MSI Wind and the newer Eeepcs as they come out and do a comparison, especially from a Linux user's perspective.

MSI Wind review

Political Penguin's picture

I was following the whole UMPC development waiting patiently as well but as of last Sunday I'm now the proud owner of an MSI Wind. OK, I'm not technically but here in the UK Advent have release what they call the 4211 which is simply a rebadged MSI Wind with a more traditional silver plastic case rather than the iBook-esque Wind. It was however only £280 as opposed to the still unavailable £330 price-tag of the Wind.

I'm absolutely loving it and the first thing I did was install Ubuntu on it. Everything works fine out of the box apart from the webcam and the wireless card. There are hacks out there already to get wireless up and running and I've heard that the webcam works but they must be using a later daily release than me.

So to answer your question, yes, MSI Wind works well with Ubuntu. I'm planning on little video review of it myself but it's too late tonight and it would only disturb the kids so I'll try and get round to it tomorrow and drop a link back.


Shawn Powers's picture

I look forward to the link!

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

RAM Differences

theillien's picture

I'm curious why the Linux version comes with only 1GB of RAM while the Vista version has 2GB. Understandably, Vista requires more RAM but, why not just have 2GB as the standard instead of downgrading with the Linux version?

You said SUSE has no games,

Anonymous's picture

You said SUSE has no games, can't you install them with Yast?

It didn't seem to...

Shawn Powers's picture

I'm not sure if it was due to the unit being a demo unit (I didn't get the restore CD in time to try a fresh install before filming), or if the repositories are different, or perhaps I just didn't know how to make it work. The SUSE Enterprise install worked very well, but it felt very "institutional" rather than personal. It was designed with an eye on business and education, so that made sense to me. :)

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

SLED on the 2133

Anonymous's picture

"I'm not sure if it was due to the unit being a demo unit (I didn't get the restore CD in time to try a fresh install before filming), or if the repositories are different, or perhaps I just didn't know how to make it work. The SUSE Enterprise install worked very well, but it felt very "institutional" rather than personal. It was designed with an eye on business and education, so that made sense to me. :)"

The 2133 that I bought (and am typing on now) also didn't come with restore CDs. Moreover, the only repository SLED was set up to install from _was_ a CD. I had purchased SLED 10 for a ThinkPad. It could pull updates from SLED servers but it wasn't clear to me how to do this with the 2133. There certainly wasn't adequate documentation that was specific to the 2133, and I've been using Linux for years. I rather quickly gave up and installed Ubuntu. (After some minor tweaks, it runs like an absolute champ.)

It's no accident that Shawn replaced the SLED install with Ubuntu. I found the provided copy of SLED to be _terrible_. It's too bad too, because the 2133 is a fantastic little machine. The SLED install is probably why so many Canadian retailers (like Future Shop and Staples) have the Vista version of the 2133 sitting beside Linux EeePC 701s. I know I wouldn't want to support SLED on the 2133.

what were the minor tweaks?

Jason's picture

that you've done to get the pc running perfect? i'm not a linux user, but, am learning one day at a time. and i need as much help as i can get with the 2133. am currently downloading the Ubuntu software to try and make a switch.

SLED does have games. When

theillien's picture

SLED does have games. When I purchased a license a year and half ago I got all the same options that come with openSUSE but in a supported, slightly visually altered version. Otherwise, it's no different.

Windows Key

Owen_JH's picture

Do all customized versions come with the Windows Product Key like the version you have here? (Check out Minute 2:20). I had no options to remove the OS when customizing on HP's website.

No, In Fact, I Asked About It

Shawn Powers's picture

The pool of demo units all have the Vista OEM stickers on them. When it was sent to me, it did have Linux pre-installed, and they let me know the retail Linux models do not have the Vista sticker.

Sharp eye. :)

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


Jeff's picture

Nice review.
I really have no problem with advertising on the web site, or even within the video (well, the shirt is a bit much, but..). What really irritated me was that in the RSS feed for this article, the body consisted entirely of ad text. Yuck! If the RSS feed is just going to feed me ads, I'll probably drop it, which means I won't be clicking through to see the full articles.


Shawn Powers's picture

Thanks for the note. I don't think we considered that when posting the sponsorship alone with the video. I'll be sure to talk with the "crew" about it.

And as for the T-Shirt? I figure it's harmless, and is an easy way for sponsors to get "screen time" without taking away from the video itself. If I start to look like a NASCAR driver, well, I might agree it would be going too far. :D

Thanks again,

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

It's perhaps worth noting

War-N's picture

It's perhaps worth noting that you're comparing the Mini-Note to the Eee PC 700, whereas the Eee PC 900 (one of which I'm a happy owner) matches the screen size (and resolution) of the Mini-Note. Plus, you don't have to host a popular video blog to get the Linux version ;P

Same Inches, Not Resolution

Shawn Powers's picture

The Eee PC 900 does have a 8.9" screen, but it clocks in at 1024x600, whereas the HP-2133 is 1280x768.

And no, you don't have to host a video blog to get one, just click on that link to get to their site. :) (In fact, I do host a video blog, and I have to send this HP-2133 back!)

I'm curious if you've used the EeePC 701, and compared it to the one you have now. Are there many differences apart from screen size?

Thanks for commenting,

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

EeePC 701 vs 900 differences

Anonymous's picture

Hi Shawn,

I've setup three EeePC 900s, two Windows (12GB) and one Linux (20GB).

It's funny, unless you look very closely at the 701 and 900 side-by-side, you couldn't tell which was which. They are exactly the same size (making them a pound lighter and an inch shorter than the 2133.)

The build quality is identical. It's pretty much indistinguishable from the 701. A few differences:

- A better 1.3MP webcam to replace the 0.3MP in the 701

- Power adapter is more Laptop-like than the EeePC 701.

- Speakers on the bottom, doesn't seem to affect volume or quality

- The "12GB" and "20GB" are in fact 4GB on-board SSD plus 8GB or 16GB SSD on an internal slot. This isn't a big deal for the Linux install, which puts OS on /dev/sda and /home on /dev/sdb but is a _pain_ for the XP version, as C:\ is 4GB and the 8GB is empty. I had to do a _lot_ of tweaking to get the XP version to live nicely on the small C drive. It was such a pain compared to the Linux Eee.

- The 900 isn't underclocked to 630MHz like the 701 is, battery life seems to be about the same despite this.

- The screen is fantastic. Text is never "a bit too small" like I've found it to be occasionally on my 2133. Having said this, I'd rather own the 2133 than the EeePC 900.

I think that's it.

No webcam, no microphone and no Video Output

Matheus's picture

I am completed shock! I don't know how many of you really used this computer and for how long, but I have one with SLED 10 and I can report the following issues so far:

-The drivers for the built-in webcam are missing;
-The drivers for built-in microphone are missing;
-The video output does not work;

I can tell me that I can fix those issues if I am a linux user, but it is a shame that HP releases a product missing the drivers. The webcam and the rest are useless out-of-the-box! Maybe someone can provide a tutorial with the drivers, because so far, nobody was able to find the proper drivers. That is even worse that you Shawn, did not report those issues. Another thing: the mini-notes overheats so much that I experienced freezes more than twice.

I agree with above, I have

Niall's picture

I agree with above, I have the sound working,

But have no way off accessing the webcam, can you give instruction on how to do this, please,

also how do I increase the RAM from 1gb to 2gb, would make the operating system a LOT faster