A New Look for the Netbook
HP Mini 1000 Mi Netbook
The class of miniature computers known as netbooks has gained in popularity in recent years, but the criticism from the computing community is that they haven’t always been as easy to use as smartphones or tablets. frog set out to change that when it designed the visual and interactive user experience for the HP Mini 1000 Mi Edition netbook (Mi stands for “Mobile Internet”). To appeal to netbook users’ desire for maximum mobility and instant gratification, the Mini Mi boots in seconds, and users immediately land on a Home screen filled with current, personalized content.
“Having almost everything I want…on the home screen as soon as the computer boots is great.”
Netbook manufacturers have struggled to deliver on the promise of mobility because many just made their laptops smaller without redesigning the way users access information. Mobility means having immediate access to email, photos, music, and more with the same kind of flip-open-and-use convenience of a cell phone.
Creating an Easy-to-Use Interface
frog’s solution was to eliminate typical laptop procedures, creating instead a set of core applications that pull up a multifaceted home screen when the computer is opened. Rather than having to wait for an operating system to boot and then opening individual applications, users simply turn on the Mini Mi, read emails, see their favorite Web pages, and enjoy music and photos right on the Home screen.
Because it's based on the Linux operating system, the Mi interface is visually unique. On the left-hand side of the Home screen, the mail component lists the user's most recent emails. In the center, a Web component provides a search and URL entry field and a set of webpage thumbnails as favorites. On the right, music and photo components show the user's favorite music and photos albums.
Under the Hood
To create the Mini Mi's visual and interaction design, frog technologists used GTK, GDM, Usplash, Metacity, XUL, and CSS—various mark-up formats for the visual appearance and user interface configuration. A third party provided a customized Ubuntu Linux, implemented the main application, and integrated a set of additional apps. With the tight melding of technologies and interaction design, HP differentiates itself from me-too competitors with a significantly better experience for users.