HP has become the latest computer maker to launch a low-cost, ultraportable laptop, with its new HP 2133 Mini-Note PC taking on the likes of Asus' Eee PC in the growing education market.

The HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, which has a starting price of less than £300, is a rugged machine with an 8.9in diagonal WXGA display - three inches smaller than HP's next smallest laptop screen. The full-featured laptop is aimed at education markets in Europe, North America and parts of Asia as well as at low-end business travellers, according to Carol Hess-Nickels, a spokesman for HP.

See also

RM inks exclusive deal to sell HP 2133 Mini-Note

HP 2133 Mini-note PC review

Asus Eee PC review

Asus Eee PC versus the Cloudbook

At 1.27kg, the HP 2133 weighs less than a lot of textbooks, said Hess-Nickels. Instead of using a processor from Intel or AMD, it has a single-core C7-M microprocessor from Taiwan-based Via Technologies.

With HP the top PC and laptop maker, releasing a product for the education market is a strong move, said Richard Shim, a research manager with IDC.

"HP has been riding a wave of growth. They're number one in notebooks and number one in PCs," added Shim. "This isn't the type of product that you establish market share with. They're putting a product out there because they don't want to be left on the sidelines if there's tremendous growth in this category. Everybody is hedging their bets by coming out with a product. HP is going after a segment they know exists by going after education."

Although Intel just last week unveiled a newly architected, low-power Atom processor line designed for mobile internet devices, HP didn't pick the chip for use in this small form-factor computer. "It's interesting because of the price it's at, the processor it uses and the form factor it's in," said Shim.

The laptop has a nearly full-size keyboard, which is also spill resistant. It also has HP DuraKeys, which consists of a clear coating applied over the keyboard that protects the finish, printed letters and characters. To help make the machine more rugged, it has an all-aluminium casing with a magnesium alloy structure, along with a scratch-resistant acrylic covering.

The HP 2133 also has several optional features, such as a webcam and Bluetooth wireless technologies.

HP is expected to release the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC in the UK in May.