Dell Inspiron Mini 10v review

Price when reviewed

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.

Dell Inspiron Mini 10v

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.

Battery life

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.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions261 x 183 x 30mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.4kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Atom N270
Motherboard chipsetIntel 945GSE Express
RAM capacity1.00GB
Memory typeDDR2
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total1

Screen and video

Screen size10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal1,024
Resolution screen vertical600
Resolution1024 x 600
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA 950
Graphics card RAM128MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs0


Hard disk usable capacity139GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA
Hard diskWestern Digital WD2500BEVT-75ZCT2
Optical disc technologyNone
Optical driveN/A
Battery capacity2,100mAh
Replacement battery price ex VAT£69
Replacement battery price inc VAT£79


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
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationBase
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 use3hr 28min
Battery life, heavy use2hr 0min
Overall application benchmark score0.42
Office application benchmark score0.55
2D graphics application benchmark score0.34
Encoding application benchmark score0.39
Multitasking application benchmark score0.43
3D performance (crysis) low settingsFail
3D performance settingLow

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows XP Home SP3
OS familyWindows XP
Recovery methodRecovery partition
Software suppliedMicrosoft Works 9, McAfee Security Center (15-month licence), Dell dock

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