Apple isn’t the only company sculpting aluminum notebooks these days. In fact, while Apple fans still anxiously clamor for a netbook with all the requisite Apple style and build quality, HP has stepped up and delivered something awfully close while Steve Jobs and company spin their wheels.
The HP Mini 5101 stands at the top of the company’s expanding netbook line primarily because of its heavy use of magnesium and aluminum in the chassis – something pretty rare in segment dominated by Fischer-Price lookalikes. The 10.1-inch LED-backlit display has been wrapped in a brushed-aluminum enclosure, while the bottom chassis uses lightweight magnesium, the same material used in many rugged notebooks like the General Dynamics GD8000. Both have been tinted black, giving the 5101 a professional air that HP is hoping will attract mobile business users.
The chiclet-style keys on the netbook have also been designed for durability. HP claims its DuraKeys coating makes them 50 times more resistant to wear, so the letters won’t scratch and fade away with time as they do on cheaper notebooks. A design that stretches the keyboard right to the very edges of the chassis also makes it 95 percent the size of full keyboard for less confined typing.
Inside the chiseled metal lines, the hardware in HP’s Mini 5101 looks just like any other netbook, with an Intel Atom processor, choice of 7,200 RPM drives (protected by three-axis accelerometers that will power it down in a fall) or flash-based hard drives up to 128GB, and either SVGA or HD screen resolution. Road warriors will also be able to opt for a mobile broadband module. The base configuration should weigh 2.6 pounds.
HP expects to roll the 5101 out in late July with a price tag of $449. More information can be found in the company’s press release.