RM Minibook 110 review

18 Feb 2012

Well built and impressively sturdy, but lacking in performance and ergonomics

RM Minibook 110
Price when reviewed: 
359exc VAT
4

With its rubberised case and shock-proof hard drive, the Minibook certainly lives up to RM’s claim of it being a “tough cookie”. If you want a netbook that can survive three or more years of use, these are features you’ll take comfort in – even if it looks like a preschool laptop toy for toddlers.

The specifications are unremarkable. The Minibook 110 features a single-core Atom N455 processor, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. With a benchmark score of 0.17, it isn’t the model to go for if you’re looking for performance.

While the 10.1in TFT screen runs at a respectable 1,024 x 600 resolution, the white surround gives the impression that it’s much smaller. Connectivity is standard, with three USB ports, a VGA output, headphone and microphone sockets and an 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter. At 1.5kg the Minibook is slightly heavy, although not uncomfortably so, and the useful handle partly explains the weight.

RM Minibook 110

Unusually, RM provides support for 802.11a Wi-Fi as well as the 802.11b, g and n standards. 802.11a isn’t as fast as 802.11n and has a lower effective range, but since it uses the less common 5GHz band, there’s less interference, meaning connections are more reliable. To benefit, schools will need to be mindful of the siting of access points.

Staff and students were unimpressed with its ergonomics. Although the keyboard is a reasonable size, the flat keys have little travel and aren’t conducive to typing for extended periods. The trackpad was also lacking, offering little feedback during use.

RM’s claim of four hours of battery life was borne out during testing, but this falls short of other netbooks and means it would need a charge midway through the school day. As the battery life can only degrade, this is something you need to think about.

The Minibook is still likely to have an appeal, thanks to its rugged build quality. RM schools will value the ability to rebuild the device as a fully managed Community Connect client. However, with its unimpressive speeds, keyboard and trackpad, it isn’t quite the ideal school netbook.

Details

Price ex VAT £299
Price inc VAT £359
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 260 x 250 x 36mm (WDH)
Weight 1.500kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N455
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 3150
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 160GB
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

USB ports (downstream) 3
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp

Battery and performance tests

Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.17

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Professional
OS family Windows 7