HP Mini 210 Netbook, with New Intel Atom Chip, Jumps Gun

The Hewlett-Packard Mini 210 netbook, featuring Intel's newest Atom N450 processor, is currently available at eCost.com - though HP had yet to officially introduce the device. HP has, however, included it on its support site.

Hewlett-Packard, whether it intended to or not, has released a new netbook, the Mini 210.

While HP has yet to formally introduce the netbook, retailer eCost.com has it listed as in-stock and for sale - at $398.99 - and HP has included the Mini 210 on its Customer Care support site, Cnet discovered.

The Mini 210 slips easily into HP's Mini lineup, which includes the Mini 110, with its 10.1-inch display, 1.60GHz Intel Atom processor and lace-etching aesthetic, courtesy of Dutch designer Tord Boontje. It stands apart, however, with the inclusion of Intel's newest Atom processor, the 1.66GHz Atom N450.

To view other HP Mini netbooks, click here.

The netbook runs Microsoft's Windows 7 Starter operating system, has 1GB of memory, a 250GB, 7,200RPM hard drive, an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3150 video card and 802.11 b/g/n wireless connectivity. There's a 5-in-1 card reader, a webcam and microphone and a 6-cell battery.

The keyboard is "chiclet style," or what's also called island style, with each key separated from its comrades, and the Mini 210 comes in an eye-catching shade called Sonoma Red.

Intel's Atom processors are the predominant chip used in netbooks, and Intel announced earlier in December that its newest Atom chips - described as offering better battery life, a smaller footprint and greater performance - would begin appearing in devices after Dec. 21.

Accordingly, on Dec. 21, Fujitsu introduced the 2.97-pound LifeBook MN380 mininotebook, and Dell announced intentions to ship a new Inspiron Mini 10 netbook, a 2.7-pounder, in January. Both devices include Windows 7 and the Atom N450 processor.

While netbook shipment growth is expected to slow, from its current, impressive year-over-year growth of 103 percent, ABI Research nonetheless predicts that Atom shipments will increase to the hundreds of millions by 2011, and Gartner expects shipments to reach 41 million units in 2010.

DisplaySearch also expects sales of netbooks - or mini-notes, as it calls them - to slow in the next year or two.

"Mini-notes continue to be a significant piece of the notebook PC pie, in terms of both units and revenue," John F. Jacobs, an analyst with DisplaySearch, wrote in a Dec. 22 report. "However, our long-term outlook is that the mini-note share of the notebook PC market has stabilized, and will remain at approximately 20 percent through 2011 before starting to erode."

In part, the slowdown is being attributed to thin and light notebooks with ultra-low voltage processors, which offer stronger performance than netbooks while effectively competing against netbooks' strongest assets: size and price points.