Dell Inspiron Mini 10 (2nd gen) review

Price when reviewed

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.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions268 x 197 x 32.8mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.6kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Atom N450
Motherboard chipsetIntel NM10
RAM capacity1.00GB
Memory typeDDR2
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total1

Screen and video

Screen size10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 3150 + Broadcom CrystalHD accelerator card
Graphics card RAM256MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity218GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskHitachi HTS545025B9A300
Optical disc technologyN/A
Optical driveNone
Battery capacity4,840mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed100Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportno
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)3
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationFront edge, base
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use9hr 58min
Battery life, heavy use5hr 2min
Overall application benchmark score0.32
Office application benchmark score0.37
2D graphics application benchmark score0.33
Encoding application benchmark score0.30
Multitasking application benchmark score0.29

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Starter 32-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery disc

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