HP 2133 ultraportable notebook reviewed: Flexible but expensive Eee rival

Multiple reviews are springing up for HP's rather tasty 2133 laptop, with GottaBeMobile, jkOnTheRun, Notebooks.com, TabletPCReview and Laptop Mag all giving their opinion (and, in most cases, a video demo as well) of the 3.2 pound, 10.0 x 6.5 x 1.1 inch ultraportable.  First impressions are generally good, with the higher resolution screen, bigger keyboard and aluminium chassis all scoring points over the 2133's obvious rival, the ASUS Eee.   

Price seems to be a stumbling block, however; while the base 2133 comes in at $499, that only snags you a 1.0GHz VIA CPU, 512MB of RAM and 4GB flash storage, together with a battery rated for a travel-unfriendly 2hrs and the Novell Suse Linux OS.  Scale up through the range (including Vista and XP options) and all of those specs get more enlarged, but so does the price: $749 for the top of the range 2133, with a 1.6GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM and 7,200rpm 120GB hard drive, together with a four hour battery, Vista Business, Bluetooth and webcam.  Unsurprisingly, HP sent most reviewers this high-end version (in some cases with an even bigger 160GB drive), which is always enough to make me suspicious: at $749, the 2133 is up against full-sized, better specified notebooks, which are likely to prove highly tempting to buyers; the lower price points are where the competition is really at.

The 2133's bizarre trackpad button layout – with the buttons flanking the touchpad, rather than being underneath it – and a slow boot-up thanks to the power-saving but grunt-lacking VIA processor get criticised in all of the reviews.  Some pick up on the absence of an embedded 3G WWAN option, although the ExpressCard slot and USB should give plenty of options for an add-on modem card.

Generally, opinions on the ultraportable are hopeful, though HP's belief that they'll sell two million of the 2133 might hit a snag when the 9-inch ASUS Eee becomes available.