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
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.
|Price ex VAT||£243|
|Price inc VAT||£279|
|Features & Design||3|
|Value for Money||5|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||261 x 183 x 30mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Atom N270|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel 945GSE Express|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||1|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,024|
|Resolution screen vertical||600|
|Resolution||1024 x 600|
|Graphics chipset||Intel GMA 950|
|Graphics card RAM||128MB|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Hard disk usable capacity||139GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA|
|Hard disk||Western Digital WD2500BEVT-75ZCT2|
|Optical disc technology||None|
|Replacement battery price ex VAT||£69|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£79|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||no|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||3|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Audio chipset||Realtek HD Audio|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||3hr 28min|
|Battery life, heavy use||2hr 0min|
|Overall application benchmark score||0.42|
|Office application benchmark score||0.55|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||0.34|
|Encoding application benchmark score||0.39|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||0.43|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||Fail|
|3D performance setting||Low|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows XP Home SP3|
|OS family||Windows XP|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition|
|Software supplied||Microsoft Works 9, McAfee Security Center (15-month licence), Dell dock|