Wednesday, February 04, 2009

My tiny adorable flowered computer!

I got an HP Mini Vivienne Tam edition to review a few days ago, and I've used it so far for blogging, surfing, email, IM-ing, and writing up my thoughts in Notepad. Here's my preliminary review based on four days of casual but heavy use.

This is a good computer for a blogger or a student who doesn't need a huge screen or massive computing power. Also it's incredibly cute.



Here's some praise!

I'm a demanding blogger. I type 100 words a minute and I like to have about 50 tabs open. This HP Mini was incredibly easy for me to slip into using. I blogged from it without noticing the slightly smaller keyboard; I could type just as fast as I usually do. The size, key placement, action, and feel of the keys are all just great. If you've tried a mini before, but had trouble getting used to the keyboard, you may be pleased with a Mini.

The screen is big and very readable! It's tiny and very light.

I like the way the case opens and shuts. The shell is hard plastic - not fabric or gelskin covered.

It has two USB ports, which seems quite nice.

I'm happy with a 60GB hard drive in such a tiny, light computer.

The wireless mouse works well.

Everything I wanted out of my Asus EeePC, but sadly never quite got, has come true in this adorable netbook!

Here's my wishlist.

I fervently wish for holes in the case where I could attach straps. Two holes near the hinge would be ideal, so that I could put a shoulder strap on this beastie. At She's Geeky conference this weekend, how many women did I just watch, walking around the room holding a computer, a paper notepad, a pen, a purse, and a latte? Around the house, it would be all that plus a book and a baby and 6 things you've picked up from the living room to move to the office. Computers need handles. But beyond the OLPC or old clamshell iMac handles that require a hand. Shoulder strap power!

Backlit keys would make me *very* happy. I'm often typing in bed or in a darkened room, in work meetings or conferences. It's lovely if I can see the keys, but keep the screen relatively dim.

Neutral thoughts

* Mostly, I use MacOS X or Linux. So this is the first time I've used Windows. While I'm not especially impressed with Windows XP, I'm also not especially annoyed. So for a week or two, I'm going to stick with XP to give it a fair shake.

* I haven't tried doing any development on this machine yet, but I think that will go quite well.

* I haven't tested battery life. So far, it hasn't been a problem, but I haven't approached it systematically.

* I haven't tried the webcam yet. It has a built in camera! I will take it through some video chat paces.

* I haven't tried installing any games or a Second Life client on it. I'll let you all know how that goes. I figure, I don't play a ton of games, but if Second Life behaves well, then I can stand by my recommendation the computer for the writer and student who's also a casual gamer.


My criticisms of the HP Mini are minor.

* The computer goes to sleep a bit too quickly when I half-close the lid. I'm often blogging or emailing or IM-ing in social or work situations, or doing actual work with private information in a cafe, and if someone comes up to talk with me, I need to half-close the computer so they can't shoulder-surf. While the Mini wakes up very quickly, I wish it didn't go to sleep until I *actually shut the lid*.

* The bumps on the f and j keys are too subtle for me to feel them easily. I could type with more confidence with better subliminal feedback about the "home" keys.

* The hinge on the case could open a little more widely. It goes past 90 degrees, but not quite far enough. I type in my lap, not on a desk. This is partly habit I'm sure, but I wonder if it's at all a gender related habit, as chairs, desks, and tables often don't match up for me, because I'm shorter than the default person (male) they're designed for? Because the computer's in my lap, and the resulting viewing angle, I sometimes need to tilt the screen further back than 100 degrees. Now, this is also true when I have my HP Mini in bed. Which I often do.


AND NOW FOR THE ADORABLENESS

This computer is cute. It's pretty. But it doesn't make me hurl with the pinkitude. Really!

It's a really nice color of deep red, with black around the screen. There's nothing ugly and clunky about this computer. It's totally elegant. I take it out of my bag, and everyone admires it, and whatever one might think about HP's targeting of women or the cut of the marketing, women everywhere I go are exclaiming with delight at how cute this computer is. It is very much OMG I WANT THAT. Then, because I'm this sort of person, I hand them the computer and invite them to type something and take it through its internet browser paces. In fact, it's been really fun to have people come up and talk to me and be so friendly, because they're curious about my computer.

For quite some time I've been asking the world for an adorable computer that is small and light, yet still a useful computer. (Oh, how I miss my 12 inch MacBook, but how I wished it were *even smaller*.) While I have issues as a feminist with everything being pink especially like, pink tools and pink computers, (see girl geek bingo), I also have mixed feelings and like things that are pretty and cute. It's better if they're pretty, cute, and punk rock, and actually work.

This is my usual style (me and my sister, with 13-inch MacBooks covered in stickers)



And here I am with the Vivienne Tam,

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This gets across how tiny and handy it is. See how it likes to sit on top of my MacBook?! It's like a cute little ladybug!

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The Internet is srs bzns and so am I, in black boys' guayabera, SF State tshirt, cotton handkerchief with red stitching, and matching computer,

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The Vivienne Tam and its matching mouse want to wear my Fluevog boots:

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If it had a hat, it would have a beret. If it were a color of nail polish, it would be "I'm Not Really a Waitress" red. Yes. I have middle class brand awareness. I cannot help it. When I wasn't playing video games, I grew up in a mall. It seeps into your blood.

Even the packaging was nice! It was like buying a computer at Sephora. Or Bloomingdale's or something. I know it's shallow, and obviously I care WAY more about the specs and usability of a computer than the box it comes in, but I noticed the box anyway. Check this out:

exciting box

tiny pink computer!

At the She's Geeky / Women 2.0 Dinner, I ended up passing the computer around almost as much as I got to use it myself. And when I whipped it out of my backpack to show to my friend Beth aka Techmama, she yelped and pulled out her own! We were like, "Oh no, same dress at the prom!" We managed to share the cuteness!

I can heartily recommend this computer if you're a blogger, writer, or you just want your own laptop instead of using a shared family computer. The 60 GB hard drive is big and fast enough to deal with the *ton* of photos, Flip videos, and music that I tend to accumulate as a blogger. The wireless also works very well so the machine lives up to its promise of portability.

ALSO, IT IS REALLY CUTE. Did I mention that!?

I have three matching wireless mice to give away. Red mice with lavender flowers and silver sides. Who wants them?

* Buy it from HP: HP Mini Vivienne Tam ("Buy it" link gives all the specs)
* Buy it from Amazon:HP Mini 1140NR 10.2-Inch Netbook - Vivienne Tam Edition (1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 60 GB Hard Drive, XP Home, 3 Cell Battery)

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22 comments:

Denise said...

Thanks Liz.

My son had asked for a computer for Christmas and I held him after til after, cuz our family situation made it so I couldn't afford to buy him one FOR Christmas (on top of his plane ticket to Chicago.)

So, I was thinking about ordering and I thought "Wait, maybe he needs a mini!" and he's super interested in it, so we're researching them.

Appreciate the review very much!

Liz said...

Aha! I am about to review the HP Mini Mi and I think it's coming to me with Ubuntu Hardy Heron ready to go. I'll ping and let you know!

sgtg said...

i bought a dell mini (9") with ubuntu. it's a nice red and for days i could only talk about how cute it was. it's a great little computer for my long ferry commute. the keyboard is definitely taking some getting used to, but if you're in the market for a netbook, check out the dell too. you can also get xp if you want, but i'm thrilled with ubuntu.

pfctdayelise said...

Gosh, that is beautiful. I think I want one!

DivaLea said...

I'll take one of those pretty mice!

Liz said...

@DivaLea I will send you one! email me your snail mail!

Rick said...

Shoulder strap, eh? Does the mini have a security slot? I wonder if there's an enterprising company out there that makes carrying setup that slots into one of these...

Deb on the Rocks said...

I also read every word because I'm researching minis (and have been recommended the eee), and because I am strangly captivated and intrigued by the femme-iness of the thing. Aren't you curious about who are the market who will choose this pattern over a black or silver model? (Or colors like the Asus.) I am. I want to know!

I would love to try a mouse to see what it does to my gender-tech wiring (I think I have only had black or silver stuff, even my iPod is black) if you still have any. I might spontaneously combust. Or I might bloom. Who knows?

Liz said...

Hey Deb, email me and I'll send you a mouse! Join me in the flowery genderqueering of our butchness!

I have been very interested hearing what people think of it. I've gotten a little bit of feminist critique - ie why pay more for a flowered hammer. But mostly that critique comes from people who are wearing $300 glasses frames, so while it's a discussion worth having it's obviously not going to stop anyone from the ways they deal with capitalism and gender expression.

I like my flowered hammer. I usually don't need a super tough, heavy, huge one; the tiny flowered hammer fits my hand and does the job.

Anonymous said...

I think you should get your Mom one of these computers. It would be perfect for her. A horseback riding friend of your Mom..

Palymama said...

Your list of requirements for this laptop could be mine for any. good points all especially: backlit light on keys, >90 angle tilt, finding home keys and multiple tabs open. More laptop companies would be well-advised to get this kind of feedback from women, bloggers, heavy-users... period. Smart idea HP. cute laptop btw (just so I fit in with the crowd)

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sophia said...

Cheapness trumps genderqueer expression. So I'm left with trolling the Dell refurb site for a Mini 9 amenable to OS X. The cheapest ones are all black (obsidian) and color adds $30-$50 to the price. With all the color plastic crap produced, I wonder why color costs more.

Your Cousin Steph said...

I really enjoyed reading this! And now I feel compelled to want one :)

Kynn said...

Eee, it's so cute! I am, of course, a big fan of cute computers. I love it.

Tempest said...

Okay, I do think the red HP mini is awesome, but when compared to some of the other netbooks out there, it doesn't quite hold up :(

BUT, I do really like that it comes in a color other than black/grey/white and that the whole thing was designed with this in mind. Have I ever ranted about how much I hate computers that have a different color chassis but then a white keyboard? gah.

Anonymous said...

I want a mouse! My friend Jayne just pointed me to your blog today. :)

julie(nospaceantispamtry)grant@gmail.com

Kim said...

I've been in love with this clutch since I saw it in 'in flight duty free shopping' Too late unfortunately, so I'm saving the extra cash to buy one over the net. I would be soo happy if you had any mice left! email: pixieandthecity@gmail.com
I'll pay for what ever the shipping costs are! :)

Maribel said...

Yes, I can't find the cute flowered mouse ANYWHERE! I've been told they're only sold in Europe and will not be coming to the U.S. Needless to say, I'm not happy. What's the point of having the cute netbook without the cute mouse? ::sigh::

Hester Prynne said...

I really like it! I also have the Asus Eee and it's a little disappointing...

SugarPieHunnieBunch said...

i got one too! couldn't resist the red keyboard. eyelovettt! also love your review..

btw, mine's got a lanyard slot..

do you still have the matching mice?! i was looking for a matching red mice today but couldn't find a red that nearly matches it. agh. can i have one please?! thanks!!

givemeferreros said...

thanks for the review! i've been deciding between this and the eee and now i know which one to get. do you still have the pretty mouse?