Dell Inspiron Mini 10v review
The vivid 10in screen and light travelling weight are both attractive features in this well-priced netbook, but there are some annoying flaws too
Review Date: 13 Oct 2009
Reviewed By: Tim Danton
Price when reviewed: £243 (£279 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The Dell Inspiron Mini 10v won't win any awards for style; it won't win any awards for features; but it's certainly challenging all netbook comers when it comes to value.
You can buy the hardware for £199, including VAT and delivery, if you choose Ubuntu as the operating system, while a Windows XP version is on offer for £249 inc VAT and delivery - and often for less courtesy of the numerous special offers on Dell's website (generally you can expect £10 or £20 to be knocked off the price).
But even without the odd £10 or £20 off, the Mini 10v looks compelling. You get the typical netbook ingredients of a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard disk, and a 10.1in screen with a 1,024 x 600 resolution.
The good, the bad, the touchpad
What's more, compared to other budget netbooks such as the Asus 1005HA, this is an excellent screen. There's no hint of the grain that affects the Asus, with a bright, sharp and glossy screen that makes films and photos look great. The drawback is reflectivity, which is fine in the home but awful under fluorescent lights.
Some of this good work is undone by the keyboard, which is rattly and lacks the tactile feel of the better netbooks, most notably the PC Pro A-Listed Samsung N110. However, it isn't terrible: the keys are large and the only obvious sacrifices to the limited space on offer are reduced-height function and cursor keys.
What is terrible, and one of the main reasons the Dell Mini 10v doesn't gain a Recommended award, is the touchpad. It's wide and reasonably responsive, but for some reason known only to this laptop's designers the mouse buttons are integrated into its bottom left and right corners.
This means that, unless you're absolutely precise, when you left-click on the screen the cursor jumps to the left as well. It can be very, very frustrating.
There are other annoyances too. Chief is battery life, which is less than mediocre: 3hrs 28mins under light use might be a reasonable return for a conventional laptop, but is disappointing for a netbook. Bear in mind the Samsung N110 lasts for over nine hours.
The main reason for the Dell Mini 10v's minimal battery life is the minimal battery. In return for a tiny chassis - and the Mini 10v is one of the smallest netbooks we've seen, at 261 x 183 x 30mm - it opts for a 2,100mAh battery.
Does this model have a standard DDR2 laptop module? I've got the earlier model, the Mini 10, and that has the memory and cpu soldered onto a despoke daughterboard - meaning of course that it cannot be upgraded.
I've heard that the Mini 10v is different, but not had chance to dismantle one to check.
By davidbryant4 on 13 Oct 2009
Hi David - I haven't taken the Mini 10v apart so can't be 100% certain if the memory and cpu are soldered on. However, there isn't any easy access to the memory socket so clearly it isn't designed for end users to increase the memory.
By TimDanton on 13 Oct 2009
I bought mine from Dell for £229 with Windows 7 starter. Memory is upgradable yo 2Gb. Great video on You Tube how to do it. V funny. You need to be fearless though. It means taking the whole machine apart. Motherboard and everything. Not for the faint hearted.
By merlingabriel on 6 Apr 2010
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