Monday, July 5, 2010

Bright, Beautiful and a Good Companion

The Vivienne Tam HP Mini 210, left, has three different butterfly wallpapers and a gold keyboard. Below, in descending order: Mini is small enough to fit comfortably in most handbags. It looks like the type of clutch that holds personal items instead of loads of features. A model and the digital clutch on the catwalk at the Vivienne Tam Spring 2010 show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week last September. The Mini is ready to go inside the bag. Top photo from Fashion show photo from Remaining photos by Yours Truly.

ONE of the many upsides of my work is that I can do it from just about anywhere there is an Internet connection – and sometimes when not. Nice not being chained to an office. In a cubicle.

The last few weeks tooling around New York have been especially nice without my reliable, affordable and frills-free Dell Inspiron 2200 notebook. Inspiron has served me well for five years. It has not given me a minute of trouble, except for the recent memory problem that I took care of with 1GB of extra ram.

Of late, I’ve been kicking it with the state-of-the art, latest-generation Vivienne Tam HP Mini 210 netbook. Inspiron weighs about six pounds, whereas Mini is a bit more than two pounds. Mini is less than half the size and less than 1-inch thick. My purse receives it comfortably, even with all of my other gear inside. Not so for Inspiron.

Mini’s size is its biggest selling point for Yours Truly. It does, however, possess other fine attributes – its beauty, for instance. The marriage between high fashion and high tech is still in the honeymoon period with this VT digital clutch inspired, along with her Spring 2010 Collection, by the love story “Butterfly Lovers.” It has a rich, gold keypad and fetching butterfly design on the cover, as well as a butterfly, “start” key, icons and three butterfly wallpapers. Here, too, is a coat of armor in the sleek form of a taupe sleeve in microfiber, as well as a nifty giftbox. It looks every inch the purse, rather than a netbook.

Virtually HP’s (Hewlett-Packard) entire Mini suite is a regular on lists of top netbooks. To that end, Mini also has brains.

For months my Inspiron was actually slower than molasses. Countless hours I’ve lost, giving me a new appreciation for the words fast/Internet/connection. Mini has 2G and a 320GB hard drive. In lay terms, that means it’s fast and has a goodly amount of storage space on the hard drive. Other smashing features are ports galore, integrated wireless, Microsoft suite and a keyboard that is 90-something percent the size of Inspiron et al. Hard to imagine of such a pretty little package, but true.

Also behind the pretty facade (rather, in front) is a Webcam. One night I was working on Mini when this figure appeared on a small screen. I was startled until I realized it was me. This was my personal introduction to the Webcam; a click of a button and Webcam morphs into a mirror. The cam is very handy for Web posting of video and for videotelephony (works with messenger programs i.e., Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! and Skype) for conference calls or a long-distance, face-to-face chat with a loved one.

As much as I love Inspiron, I do not like the way it collapses my windows/pages if I have too many open. They are stacked on top of each other. At the bottom of my computer screen only one window is showing. The page is identified by name of the application, and the number of pages open is listed next to it. For instance, if four pages of Internet Explorer are open, they appear as “4 Internet Explorer.” To the right is a tab on which I can click to access each page, which reveals the name of each open page. Not very helpful if three of them are Yahoo! pages. Mini does it better. The same four IE pages are collapsed, but only the IE icon is visible at the bottom of the page. Click on the icon and visible are condensed versions of each open page. The viewer can see exactly what is on each page!

Mini has more substance, including a touchpad that allows the user to zoom in and out on a page. Naturally, too, Mini has faults.

That very same touchpad that does that wonderful pinch/zoom thingy can sometimes be difficult to manipulate, slowing one’s progress. More than once I put Mini down and picked up Inspiron when I needed to do something quick, fast and in a hurry. Sticklers have the option of purchasing a more cooperative mouse or hoping that time and a defter touch will resolve the problem.

Quite over the moon when I read that Mini has up to 5.5 hours of battery life. Inspiron barely has two. On the first outing after Mini was fully charged, however, I learned that it has about half that amount. Technically, it is not untrue to advertise up to 5.5 hours, but it is an exaggeration. Up to three would be closer to the reality I have experienced on multiple attempts. Sticklers have the option of purchasing a black six-cell battery “for up to 11.1 hours on single charge.”

Meanwhile, it was at the Bergdorf Goodman “Sex and the City 2” party weeks ago that a very affable p.r. executive arranged my meeting with Mini. She was inspired by my openly coveting her Mini and subsequently threatening to pinch it from her purse. Clearly, I could be forgiven such a faux pas, given the circumstances: I was under the influence of two glasses of Mo√ęt et Chandon and 2 hours/27 minutes of “SATC 2” at a pre-party screening sponsored by HP. This incident occurred shortly after Inspiron was rammed-up with that 1GB and after my computer guy, Eugene at Axe Tech, Inc., suggested – before the operation – that I get a netbook. It would have everything I needed, he asserted.

“Does it have a CD drive,” I inquired.

“No,” he said. “Who listens to music on their computer?”

“I do” and so does one other person I know. While the Mini I received does not have a CD/DVD drive, it does have Beats by Dr. Dre audio software. And it can be custom-ordered with the drive. Did I miss listening to music and lectures? No. Mini has too much to recommend, including a pricetag as low as $600, for me to make a big deal out of a small drive.

Mini is skinny, beautiful and brainy in all the right places. What else could one want in a digital clutch?

Learn more about the Vivienne Tam HP Mini 210 at and; Axe Tech, Inc. at

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