Toybox: HP hotstepper bridges technology-fashion gap

Under its stylish hood, the computer is a straight HP Mini 1000

Oh my. Hewlett-Packard’s little red Vivenne Tam machine is the prettiest computer I have ever seen (sorry MacBook).

The HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam version is dressed in a beautiful peony-flower design, straight from the New York fashion scene. The fabric design is inspired by fashion designer Tam’s Spring 2009 collection.

Under its stylish hood, the computer is a straight HP Mini 1000 with a 60GB hard drive, weighing in at just over 1kg. In other words, it will effortlessly slip into your handbag (or man-bag).

Just like its more traditional-coloured sibling, the Tam edition is powered by Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processors and ships with Windows XP Home Edition. It has a 10-inch LCD display — with a 1,024 by 600-pixel native resolution — covered by edge-to-edge glass. Yes, the display is glossy enough to double up as a mirror, but some people like that. However, the glossiness spreads to the all-red keyboard and mousepad panel as well, creating an unnecessarily high glare-factor. Personally, I would have preferred a more matte finish.

The machine has a built-in webcam for snapshots and video-conferencing, with the speakers smartly located in the hinge between the body and the lid, giving more room for the keyboard and the screen.

One of the main advantages of both Mini 1000 versions is the large keyboard, which HP claims is 92% of the size of a full-size laptop keyboard. The keys are indeed larger than on your regular netbook, making the machine quite comfortable to type on.

To make room for the bigger keyboard, the mousepad is slightly elongated, with the click buttons placed on either side of the pad. The on-off switch for the touchpad, sitting just above it, comes in handy when typing.

HP’s collaboration with Vivienne Tam aims to target the emerging female market, says local HP spokeswoman Jess Rangi. Women are increasingly making purchasing decisions and when it comes to technology, many are attracted to gadgets with a fashion twist, she says. The strategy of partnering with fashion designers is something HP will continue doing in the future, she says. Locally, the company has collaborated with Trelise Cooper and Annah Stretton in the past.

Unveiled at Tam’s Spring 2009 Fashion Week show in Battery Park in New York last year, the netbook finally arrived at our fair shores just in time for Valentine’s Day. According to Rangi, there are only 200 Tam machines available in New Zealand, and this was boosted from an initial 100 machines.

Like its sibling, the Tam edition also has the very interesting slot for a 3G SIM card in its battery compartment.

This is quite exciting, but unfortunately, the 3G feature is not working in New Zealand yet, as Vodafone currently doesn’t support the Minis on its network, says HP. Some users in the US claim to have got 3G going by slotting a SIM card in, so hopefully this will work here too in the future.

The price for this stylish little number is $1,199, compared to $899 for the regular 60GB Mini 1000. It’s available from Dick Smith, Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming and JB Hi-Fi.

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