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May 24, 2010

Hands on with Sex and the City 2’s co-star, the HP Mini 201 Vivienne Tam

In my wife’s mind this is one of the most important weeks of the year. No, it’s not our anniversary, the day we got engaged or our daughter’s birthday. It’s not any family event of any kind, actually.

It’s the premier of Sex and the City 2.

Once more, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda are hitting the big screen in style and this time, they’re doing it with some really sharp new PCs from HP, including the HP TouchSmart all-in-one PCs, and the HP Mini 210 Vivienne Tam Edition.

Style has always been a key theme in the Sex and the City franchise, and the producers made a smart choice by partnering with HP as their technology partner. I’ve been consistently impressed with their new laptop lines – particularly the new dm4 and Envy 14/17 – but the clear star of their fashion lineup is the Vivienne Tam netbook. For those of you unfamiliar with Vivienne Tam, she’s a fashion world heavyweight – her runway collections are always one of Fashion Week’s most talked about. HP lent me the new “Butterfly Lovers” model for a few weeks (the PC, not the woman on the catwalk, and I can sum up my experience in one sentence: It’s freakin’ gorgeous.

Stunning, actually – enough so that virtually every single person who I passed here on campus stopped to ask me what it was and if they could check it out. I’ve yet to see another PC pull off that kind of response.




Marketed as a “digital clutch”, that beauty is liberally applied inside and out. The exterior is a soft, antiqued gold, accented with Vivienne’s signature butterfly design. It’s built directly into lid using HP Imprint technology, which makes it both eye-catching and durable. The design does an excellent job of standing out without being ostentatious, which is a very delicate and important balance to strike when working with a “look at me!” color like gold. Every detail was carefully planned by HP and Ms. Tam, and the PC is filled with little extras, like a LED that lights up when you plug in an Ethernet cable, and the Chinese character for “happy” on the enter key. Glass is edge-to-edge and puts out better-than-average 1366 x 768 resolution, which if you read my hands-on with the Sony W Mini Notebook, is a huge selling point for me since you don’t run into the truncation issues with web pages that you find on a 1024 x 600 standard netbook display.


Inside, the Vivienne Tam is powered by an Intel Atom N processor, 2GB of RAM, a 250GB HDD and a Broadcom Media Accelerator, all of which combines to offer snappy performance.

Beyond the beautiful industrial and artistic design of the hardware, HP and Vivienne Tam partnered with StarDock to create a custom theme for Windows 7. Normally I’m not a fan of anything that messes with Windows 7’s look-and-feel, but in the Vivienne Tam’s case, it works really well. The wallpaper matches the case color. The window frames and control buttons match the wallpaper. The Windows Start Button has been replaced by a butterfly that gently flaps its wings when you mouse over. And the start menu has an equally elegant butterfly that flutters around and comes to rest on the menu’s translucent back side. It’s a thoughtful look at Windows 7 theme customization and it complements the device well.




If you’re looking for something that’s equal parts Wall Street warrior and 5th Avenue fashionista, the HP Vivienne Tam is a great choice. You can get one from HP starting at $599.

Or if you’re feeling lucky…


Our buddies on the Bing team are hosting the “Win with Bing™” contest in conjunction with the movie’s launch. Visit for your chance to win an HP Mini Vivienne Tam Netbook like the one I covered today in Bing’s weekly drawing. The contest runs from May 25th – July 5th, 2010.