Ever since Asus launched the Asus EEEPC to the unsuspecting world there has been an explosion in the netbook market as other manufacturers jump onto the bandwagon. Prices on the whole remain tight for similar spec devices and most use the same hardware. This is Dell’s second generation of netbook following on from the Mini 9.
The Machine’s Spec
Before I go any further I will give the spec of the model I tested as there are a few variations.
Processor: intel N270 (1.6Ghz)
Memory: 1 GB DDR2 533
Hard Drive 160 GB
Display 10.1 inch Widescreen
Bluetooth (2.1 + EDR)
10/100 Ethernet adapter
Weight 1.035 KG
3 Cell Battery
Having previously tested the Acer One 8.9 inch with 8GB SSHD it was interesting to see how things have progressed.
The Mini 10 I tested had a shiny black exterior that looked fantastic but quickly picked up a few fingerprints. The keys on the keyboard are 95% standard size so were easy to adapt to, although a move from a 108 key keyboard will be a little tricky for the competent typist.
The OS (windows XP in this case but available in Ubuntu as well) was surprisingly fast. Certainly the retrograde step to reintroduce optical Hard Drives into these machine has paid off because my otherwise same spec Acer crawled along at a snails pace with the 8 gig SSHD (solid state hard drive). The storage capacity of course is far superior to the SSHD’s available and have a similar expected lifespan.
The screen on this model has that polished look and gave outstanding brightness and colour, the only downside is when using it when sitting opposite a source of light where it reflects a little more light that you might want. The resolution for the 10.1 is 2024 x 576 pixels and makes using XP a breeze. I used it to watch Divx movies on which it did flawlessly.
When you consider the size of the machine the sound and volume it generates is surprisingly good and out performed a few laptops I have owned
The standard 3 cell battery gave me just over 2.5 hours use but the time you get depends a little on what you are doing.
The standard ports come with this model, Earphone, Mic, USB’s, SD card reader, VGA and Network. I still can’t think why more netbooks don’t have card readers that support more cards. The Acer one supports XD too which was welcome to me because my camera takes that media.
Bluetooth as standard too was welcome addition with this model. With more and more device coming out for bluetooth and the prices of those devices getting lower all the time, bluetooth should be standard on every machine.
The Webcam is of sufficient quality for all online video communications but you really need a good source of light because when it starts to get just a little dark the picture soon degrades and loses most of its colour.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised with the progress of the netbook and Dell’s certainly proved to be fast and readable, had good connectivity and sharp looks. Whilst not being a leap forward from the 8.9 inch versions, the introduction of the 160 Hard Drive changes everything.
If your looking for a netbook but not sure of which model to go for, my main recommendations would be get one that has the following,
160 GB Optical hard drive (more than worth the slight weight gain and extra power usage)
At least a 10.1 inch screen – because the resolution is that much better
Blutooth built in because you never know when you’ll need to connect to your mobile.
Another thing to mention is the heat these machines generate is substantial but don’t worry because they are designed to work at those temperatures and all the machines seem to give off similar heat.
I got my Mini 10 from modernsave.com
They always seem to be good on price and good on service. Anyway check around for a good price, buy one, and read my next article or review on the commute to work.