Dell Inspiron Mini 10 (TV Tuner) Notebook Review

Dell Inspiron Mini 10 (TV Tuner) Notebook Review
When it comes to netbooks, most manufacturers compete ruthlessly with each other over pricing. A netbook costing $25 less than another, for example, will be more attractive to consumers looking to maximize their dollar. However, many netbooks offer a variety of amenities for those willing to splurge a little, and nowhere is that more evident than with the Dell Inspiron Mini 10. While pricing for the Mini 10 starts at $299, the configuration we tested has more bells and whistles. Costing $574, it’s outfitted with a high-resolution display, an integrated TV tuner, and a six-cell battery. These features may be worth the investment for those who value entertainment options, but we wish that the Mini 10 had a less awkward touchpad design.

Design :

The Mini 10 shares the same design genes as the Mini 9 and Mini 12; the edges are rounded, and the black keyboard is offset with a smooth silver palm rest and touchpad. The base model of the Dell Mini 10 comes with a glossy, fingerprint-prone lid; our model came adorned with a graffiti-esque pattern called “Stickers 2 in Blue,” and most of the iconography reminded us of corporate logos and characters from the 1980s. This design, as well as four others and five solid colors, can be had for an additional $40.
The Mini 10 is one of the most compact 10-inch netbooks on the market. Measuring 10.3 x 7.2 x 1.3 inches, it’s both thinner and shorter than the Samsung NC10 and the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE. It isn’t as thin or light as the 10-inch, 2.4-pound HP Mini 1000, but the 3-pound Mini 10 fit into a small messenger bag and with plenty of room to spare. Its 0.4-pound AC adapter is also more compact than most of its ilk. However, its six-cell battery angles downwards, tilting the netbook towards the user. This is a somewhat helpful ergonomic decision, but we prefer the nearly-flush battery of the ASUS Eee PC 1005HA.

Keyboard and Touchpad :

The Mini 10 has a keyboard that maximizes the available real estate on the chassis, and it’s 92 percent of full size. We also appreciate the relatively large right Shift key. Typing on the Mini 10’s flat keyboard was fairly comfortable, and the keys themselves offered good, springy feedback.

To save space, Dell integrated the right and left mouse buttons into the touchpad itself. The good news is that you’re not stuck with a single bar (like some netbooks) and that the left and right buttons are distinct. Unfortunately, the buttons are quite small, and not as usable as a traditional setup. In addition, the cursor would sometimes move before we clicked down, which was annoying.

Since the touchpad features Elantech’s multitouch gestures (including rotating, two-finger scrolling, and pinching to zoom), it has a bit of a learning curve. When we tried to left-click on the pad while inadvertently dragging another finger on it, we unintentionally zoomed in on a window. Disabling the pinch-and-zoom gesture in the settings helped solve the problem; it was then easier to scroll using two fingers. Nevertheless, we prefer larger touchpads with discrete touchpad buttons, which is what you’ll find on the Toshiba mini NB205.

Ports and Slots :

The left side of the Mini 10 has (from back to front) a Kensington lock slot, one USB port, and a 3-in-1 memory card reader. The right side houses an Ethernet jack, two more USB ports, an HDMI port, and mic and headphone jacks. Though some may bemoan the lack of a VGA port for connecting the Mini 10 to projectors, the HDMI port helps future-proof this netbook somewhat.