Dell Inspiron Mini 10v review

£279
Price when reviewed

You can buy an extended battery for £99 inc VAT, but note this will materially affect the Mini 10v’s shape. The battery is cylindrical and slots into the rear of the chassis. An extended battery can’t just stick out the end, because the lid curves around the cylinder, and instead it adds a centimetre or so to the bottom of the laptop.

One factor that does go in the Mini 10v’s favour, though, is its tiny power supply – it’s more akin to the adapters that come with old mobile phones than modern laptops. The Mini 10v weighs 1.15kg on its own, and 1.36kg with the supply, which is an incredibly low travelling weight.

Software bundle

If there are signs that the chassis isn’t the most thought-out, take some consolation in the software packages. Dell doesn’t just stick with the ageing Windows XP interface, but adds its own Apple-style dock – or, to be more precise, a customised version of Stardock.

This sits at the top of the screen and allows you to jump more quickly to your chosen tasks. For example, it automatically detects when Microsoft Office is installed and will add a shortcut to it from the Office graphic.

Microsoft Works 9 (which includes a basic word processor, spreadsheet, database and calendar application) comes as standard with all Windows XP-based versions of the Mini 10v, but you can choose what else to include.

In fact, as ever, customisation is one of Dell’s biggest strengths. You can change pretty much every aspect of the Mini 10v, from the lid colour to the warranty package to the battery provided to which wireless standards supported (upgrading to 802.11n adds £14.99 inc VAT).

If you want quick delivery, however, your choice is much more limited: a black lid, Windows XP, a 15-month subscription to McAfee Internet Security, the normal core specifications (1.6GHz Atom, 160GB hard disk) plus Bluetooth. Wireless is the standard 802.11bg affair.

You also get a handy 2GB of online backup for free, for a year, courtesy of Dell’s SataSafe Online service. Dell makes this easy to set up, with a shortcut again sitting in the dock, but note that services such as Mozy offer a similar amount of online backup for free as well – and your subscription won’t run out after a year.

Conclusion

Nevertheless, we can’t fault Dell for the value it packs in. If you opt for the quick delivery version, you’re getting a lot of hardware for the money, and one of the best screens we’ve seen in a sub-£300 netbook.

But we also can’t conclude without reiterating those frustrations: the Mini 10v’s below-par battery life and terrible trackpad are unnecessary in a modern netbook, and if you’re willing to spend another £20 inc VAT on the N110 then we urge you to do so.

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 261 x 183 x 30mm (WDH)
Weight 1.150kg
Travelling weight 1.4kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Atom N270
Motherboard chipset Intel 945GSE Express
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 1

Screen and video

Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 950
Graphics card RAM 128MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 160GB
Hard disk usable capacity 139GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA
Hard disk Western Digital WD2500BEVT-75ZCT2
Optical disc technology None
Optical drive N/A
Battery capacity 2,100mAh
Replacement battery price ex VAT £69
Replacement battery price inc VAT £79

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support no
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Base
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 28min
Battery life, heavy use 2hr 0min
Overall application benchmark score 0.42
Office application benchmark score 0.55
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.34
Encoding application benchmark score 0.39
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.43
3D performance (crysis) low settings Fail
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows XP Home SP3
OS family Windows XP
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied Microsoft Works 9, McAfee Security Center (15-month licence), Dell dock

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