Hewlett-Packard today announced a netbook PC that it said will be able to run for up to a full business day on a single battery charge.
HP claims that by using a premium six-cell "all day" battery in conjunction with a power-sipping Intel Atom processor, the Mini 2140 should last for as long as eight hours before it needs to be recharged, thereby topping other netbooks now on the market.
Aimed at business users, the 2140 - which will be displayed at this week's International CES trade show in Las Vegas - is the successor to the 2133 Mini-Note system that HP released last year. Even with a conventional three-cell battery, the 2140 should be able to run up to four hours on a single charge, almost twice as long as the 2133's battery life of two hours and 15 minutes, according to Kyle Thornton, HP's worldwide product manager for business notebook PCs.
Thornton attributed the battery life boost to HP's switch from the 1.2-GHz Via C7-M processor used in the 2133 to the 1.6-GHz Atom N270, as well as improvements in the 2140's ability to dissipate heat. "We made a great improvement in the thermals," he said.
Netbooks have won fans by offering low prices and extreme portability. But they have mostly failed to deliver on promises of better battery life, despite using less-powerful components than regular notebook PCs do. According to reviewers, the most power-efficient netbooks, such as Acer's Aspire One model, can run for up to five hours and 15 minutes in real-world applications, with most others capable of lasting between two and four hours.
Although HP's battery life claims are still untested, they could be a powerful differentiator for the vendor if true. HP tops the global market for notebook PCs but lags far behind in the rapidly expanding netbook business, which currently is dominated by Taiwan-based Acer and Asus.
In the third quarter of 2008, HP was third in netbooks, with a 5.8 percent market share, according to research firm DisplaySearch LLC. Meanwhile, Acer and Asus held 38.3 percent and 30.3 percent of the market, respectively.
In addition to the 2133 Mini-Note, HP in October introduced a Mini 1000 netbook line for home users.
The 2133 has other drawbacks besides a short battery life. For instance, that system has also been criticized by some reviewers for being uncomfortably hot to touch while it's running. Thornton promised that the temperature of the 2140's case will remain under 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Packaged in the same aluminum case as the 2133, the new netbook comes with a 10-in. LCD widescreen display that can be set for a resolution of either 1024-by-576 or 1366-by-768. The 2.6-lb. machine also includes a built-in Wi-Fi connection, and customers can choose between a 160GB disk drive or an 80GB solid-state drive .
They also have their choice of operating system, including Novell Inc.'s SUSE Linux, the Home and Professional versions of Windows XP, and Windows Vista Home Basic or Business.
Pricing starts at $499 (approx £330) for the XP Home model with 1GB of RAM, the 160GB hard drive, the three-cell battery and a one-year warranty. Thornton said an XP Pro version costs $649 with 2GB of RAM, the 160GB drive and the six-cell battery.
The 2140 will sport the same 92%-of-full-size keyboard as the 2133, along with a DuraKeys coating that provides protection against spills and UV rays, Thornton said. He added that if the new netbook is dropped, an accelerometer detects the fall and removes the hard drive heads from the disk in order to avoid damaging it and reduce the potential for data loss.
The system also includes a fast-charge mode that should charge its battery to 90 percent capacity within 90 minutes, according to Thornton.