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Dell Inspiron Mini 10 (2nd gen) review

Verdict

A swish new design, great battery life and it plays HD video, but the touchpad is truly appalling

Review Date: 8 Apr 2010

Reviewed By: David Bayon

Price when reviewed: £237 (£279 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
2 stars out of 6

In a world of drab IT clones, a dash of creativity and a lick of paint can work wonders in grabbing the attention. Dell has long offered a choice of lid designs and finishes on its laptops, and the latest update to the Inspiron Mini 10 follows suit with seven vibrant lid colours for a £35 premium. That's not the only design appeal, though, as the whole netbook looks more interesting than most.

It's the decision to position the hinge slightly forward from the back of the base that gives the Mini 10 its distinctive look. Partly to allow for a six-cell battery without an obvious protrusion at the rear, partly to leave space for future port additions, it makes the Dell progressively thicker from front to back. But it also makes it stand out, and that counts for a lot in the netbook arena.

Dell Inspiron Mini 10

The New Cherry Red finish on our sample contrasted nicely with the white of the base and the black of the interior, and the 10.1in screen surround is thick and glossy like the screen itself. We're delighted to see a 1,366 x 768 resolution on this top-end model, as it makes such a difference in daily use, particularly when browsing web pages. It fits the 10.1in size nicely too, and it's matched by a decent backlight and reasonably good contrast. We're not blown away by its quality, but in netbook terms it's one of the better screens you'll find.

There are some advances inside, too. Intel's Pine Trail platform, comprising an Atom N450 and the NM10 chipset, had it running through our benchmarks at the usual pace – a score of 0.32 is as expected. But this netbook has an extra addition to give it an edge in other areas. As well as the bog-standard Intel GMA 3150 graphics, which won't handle HD video, you get a Broadcom CrystalHD Media Accelerator which supposedly will.

To properly test it we downloaded the release candidate of Adobe's Flash 10.1 and updated the CrystalHD drivers. This done, YouTube and iPlayer videos ran smoothly at 480p, and upping that to the screen's optimum 720p resolution saw it very close to smooth playback. We still saw dropped frames in fast-moving scenes, but for the most part it's a surprisingly watchable experience.

The best part is that all that entertainment won't kill the battery, as Dell has plumped for a six-cell unit that provides an impressive amount of juice. Our light-use test, leaving the netbook idle, saw it die just two minutes short of the ten-hour mark – remarkable even by netbook standards. That fell to 5hrs 2mins when pushed to its limits.

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User comments

Touchpad

I had to get a netbook for one of the managers at work recently. Was considering one of these, but on seeing that it still has that touchpad (which I've experienced on earlier Dell netbooks), I decided to go for an Asus instead - despite the fact that I normally buy from Dell and have an account with them.

I don't imagine I'm alone in regarding the touchpad as a reason not to buy it - surely it must be losing Dell sales?

By davidbryant4 on 8 Apr 2010

Touchpoint

Similar story here. Despite having an account with Dell, I wanted to buy a netbook, _with_ touchpoint. I ended up with Sony.

Well, I don't imagine I'm alone in regarding the lack of touchpoint as a reason not to buy the netbook. Nevertheless, the world won't change...

By stasi47 on 8 Apr 2010

Dell Ultrabooks

The Dell Ultrabooks are lighter and thinner that Mini 10 and offer more options: http://www.dell.co.uk/ultrabook

By mcm1973 on 11 Sep 2012

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