HP's second-generation mini-notebook - the HP Mini 1000 - falls in the middle of the current netbook pack.

HP's second-generation foray into the mini-laptop space, also known as netbooks - the HP Mini 1000 - has a couple of advantages over its predecessor (the HP 2133 Mini-Note, which we reviewed back in July). Gone is the Via C-7M processor; gone, too, is the pipe dream that any current netbook could handle Windows Vista (the Mini 1000 runs Windows XP).

The HP Mini 1000 that we received for testing packs Intel's 1.6GHz Atom processor; 1GB of RAM; a 4200rpm, 60GB PATA hard disk; and Windows XP. Translation: it falls in place with the rest of the current mini-notebook pack. There's a cheaper, stripped down version called the Compaq Mini 700.

The Compaq Mini 700 will be available as of mid-December at an estimated starting price of £299 inc VAT. The model we reviewed, the HP Mini 1000 as outlined above, will set you back £399. That price instantly pushes the HP Mini 1000 to the high end of the mini-notebook category - and to nearly as much as a full-blooded all-purpose laptop.

If anyone asked us what we would have done to change HP's first mini-note, the aforementioned HP 2133, we'd have had a pretty cut-and-dried checklist: add a more capable CPU; amp up the RAM; use XP instead of Vista (one version of the 2133 used Vista Business Edition, no less); change the touchpad's design (we grew to hate the mouse buttons that flanked the pad's left and right sides); and, if HP could, drop the price a little. But they'd better not mess with the keyboard, the speakers, or that sweet metallic shell.

The HP Mini 1000 incorporates many of those suggestions. However, in spite of its Atom processor, the Mini 1000 slips a little toward the back of the pack. Of course, we've learned to keep lowered expectations for netbooks - the average WorldBench score for the category hovers around 35. HP's Mini 1000 eked out a 30. So, while it's not nearly as speedy as Lenovo's IdeaPad S10 (which earned a 41), the Mini 1000 also is notably faster than both Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 (which crawled across the finish line posting a 25) and the original HP 2133, which scored a poky 23.

HP spokespeople feel comfortable saying that the 3-cell battery lasts about 3 hours. We'll see. In addition, HP plans to release an optional 6-cell battery wedge that sits below the Mini 1000 and props it up (it's due in January 2009, price to be determined).

While not in our test unit, HP briefed us on a forthcoming optional video processing chip that can go into the Mini 1000.

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