Two low-cost ultraportables can enter, but only one can leave. It's official. I'm torn between the HP 2133 and the Eee PC 900. I know that I want an ultraportable that has a larger, higher resolution screen than my Eee PC 701 4G. But I don't know which one to go for. I doubt I'm alone, which is why I added a poll to the top of the site. Once you cast your vote, feel free to leave your comments here. I'd love to know what you think.

On the one hand, the Eee PC has a proven track record and the 900 series looks like a huge improvement over the 700 series. While the final specs and pricing haven't officially been announced, we do know that it'll pack an 8.9 inch, higher resolution display in the same tiny package. It'll also have more storage space, and possibly more RAM and a faster processor.

The HP 2133, on the other hand, includes far more storage (depending on which model you purchase), an even higher resolution 8.9 inch display (1280 x 768 pixels compared to the Eee PC 900's 1024 x 600 pixels), and a near-full sized keyboard. The HP 2133 also seems to have a more solid build quality and weighs a bit more (2.6 pounds, compared to 2 pounds for the Eee PC). The HP 2133 also has a VIA processor instead of an Intel chip. Considering the Eee PC 701 uses an Intel Celeron, which is sort of the Jan Brady of the Intel chipset family, this may be six of one, half dozen of another.

Which computer are you leaning toward, and why? Or are you waiting for more low cost ultraportables to hit the market before making up your mind?

HP ain't the only company you've actually heard of getting in on the low-cost, ultraportable game. Dell CEO Michael Dell says the company also plans to launch a similar product. Engadget reports that it could cost less than $500, feature an 8.9 inch widescreen display, and could be available in June. That's a lot of "coulds," but there's no real solid information available at this point, so I'll take rumor and speculation for now.

So much for Asus's hopes of releasing the Eee PC 900 before HP or Acer launched their new ultraportables. You can now order an HP 2133 from the HP web site. Prices range from $499 for a low-powered Linux model to $849 for the top of the line unit with Vista Home Basic and a 160GB hard drive (although, honestly the $749 model with a 120GB hard drive seems like a better deal, since it has more RAM, a faster hard drive, and Vista Business Edition).

What I want to know is why you can't choose your operating system for each configuration. The $499 model has a 1GHz processor, 4GB of solid state memory and 512MB of RAM, while the $599 model has a 1.2GHz processor, 120GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, and Vista Business Edition. I'd buy that model in a heartbeat if I could replace Vista with SUSE Linux.

The computers are expected to begin shipping on April 15th. Note that there do seem to be some problems with the web page right now. When I clicked "Add to Cart," I got a message telling me that a computer was in my cart. But when I proceeded to checkout, my cart was empty.

Update: It looks like HP has added a $549 version that's exactly the same as the $599 model, but comes with SUSE instead of Vista. I'm going to assume they got the idea from this blog until anyone proves me wrong. Thanks for making my decision between the Eee PC 900 and the HP 2133 that much harder HP. Thanks Chase!

[via jkOnTheRun]

Can't decide whether to pick up a new mini-laptop from Asus, Acer, or HP? All three computer makers are coming out with light weight ultraportables with 8.9 inch displays in the next few months.

But while HP started a major publicity push for the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC today, Digitimes reports that Asus hopes to beat HP, Acer, and others to the punch by releasing its next generation Eee PC 900 in Taiwan during the second half of April.

While there was some speculation that Asus would pack Intel's brand new power-saving Atom processor into the next generation Eee PC, the Atom chip won't be available until May. DigiTimes reports that Asus will instead use an older generation processor. Interestingly, the report says the Eee PC will use a dual-core ULV processor. The current generation Eee PC uses a rather poky Celeron processor.

OK, I'm going to stop writing about the HP 2133/Mini-Note/Mini or whatever it's officially called soon. I promise. But in the meantime, check out James Kendrick's excellent review at jkOnTheRun. What sets this review apart from the PC World and Laptop Magazine reviews is that's it's clear James has spent some time using this mini laptop in real world conditions.

My one complaint with all of these articles is that HP seems to be giving all reviewers the top of the line $750 model with 2GB of RAM, Vista Business Edition, and all the extras. At $750, this computer is a great alternative to ultraportables of days gone by. But it's really not fair to compares it to an Eee PC which you can pick up for as little as $299. What I'd really like to know is how the $499 base unit with 1GB of RAM and SUSE Linux stacks up against the $399 Eee PC 4G, or better yet the upcoming Eee PC 900 which will feature a similar sized screen and may cost about the same price.

I highly recommend checking out James's complete writeup. But if you've got a half hour to spare, you can also watch his comprehensive video review below.

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