RM Minibook 110 review
Well built and impressively sturdy, but lacking in performance and ergonomics
Review Date: 18 Feb 2012
Reviewed By: Simon Fisher
Price when reviewed: £299 (£359 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
Author: Simon Fisher
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