I’m a big fan of the HP Mini 1000 and it earned our first Editor’s Choice award, but the quality of its built-in webcam is a weak point. The Mini 2140 has a similarly spec’d webcam, but it delivers a dramatically better image than the one found in the Mini 1000.
The Mini 1000’s webcam has a dark filter in front of it that doesn’t let enough light through. As you can see in the below macro shot you can’t even see the camera lens. This means that there’s not enough light passing through to the webcam’s sensor.
The Mini 2140 has a VGA (640×480) webcam, but isn’t cursed with a filter that darkens the image. You can clearly see the camera lens in this close up of the 2140’s webcam. Almost all of the light passes through this filter and into the camera’s sensor.
Why does this matter? A darkened filter on a camera is like a person wearing sunglasses indoors. Sure, you can make out shapes of things and can clearly see a brightly lit face or object, but everything else looks muddy.
Here’s a picture from my Mini 1000’s webcam that I took using the default settings.
And here’s a picture using my Mini 2140’s webcam with default settings using a nearly an identical position/angle.
As you can see, the Mini 2140’s webcam does a much better job of capturing my mug in a backlit setting. The Mini 1000’s image is pretty unusable in this situation. If you want to use the Mini 1000’s webcam you should sit in a very well-lit room and avoid back-lighting.
I really hope HP improves this situation quickly, even if it means a less-sleek bezel.