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Dell Mini 10 (PineTrail) 10.1-inch Netbook PC

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Dell Mini 10 (PineTrail) 10.1-inch Netbook PC

Dell Mini 10

©Dell

The Bottom Line

Feb 18 2010 - Dell's new Mini 10 with the PineTrail platform makes some nice design changes and battery life improvements from their previous generation. The new wedge shape will be welcome by some and loathed by others. The flush battery compartment is welcome to keep the lines clean but the display lid that doesn't fully cover disrupts it. It is a decent netbook system in terms of performance and features but it is marred by a nearly unusable trackpad design that makes it very difficult to use without an external mouse.
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Pros

  • New Wedge Design Fully Contains 6-cell Battery
  • Very Long Battery Life
  • Optional Mobile Broadband

Cons

  • Horrible Touchpad
  • Display Hinge Exposes Back Base Chassis When Closed

Description

  • Intel Atom N450 Mobile Processor
  • 1GB PC2-5300 DDR2 Memory
  • 160GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • 10.1" WSVGA (1024x600) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • Intel GMA 3150 Integrated Graphics
  • Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
  • Three USB 2.0, VGA, 3-in-1 Card Reader
  • 10.3" x 7.2" x 1.3" @ 2.8 lbs.
  • Windows 7 Starter

Guide Review - Dell Mini 10 (PineTrail) 10.1-inch Netbook PC

Feb 18 2010 - Dell's PineTrail based Mini 10 may shared the name with the older model but the design is very different. The new version sports a wedge shaped design that gives a very different appearance that is both good and bad. The nice part is that regardless of which size battery comes with it, the battery compartment is flush with the chassis without bulges below or behind the unit. On the downside, the new display hinge doesn't fully cover the main chassis when the lid is closed and produces a ridge that disrupts an otherwise clean design.

Performance with the new Intel Atom N450 isn't much improved over the previous N270 processors. There is a slight boost in memory performance but it is almost imperceptible by users in actual applications. Of course the 1GB memory limit imposed by Microsoft with its netbook Windows licenses are a major reason.

Graphics wise the new Intel GMA 3150 unit provides some minor improvements over past models but it still lacks much in terms of performance. Some 720p HD video streams are possible depending upon the source, but it isn't really reliable to be useful. The Broadcom HD video accelerator will be available as an upgrade option but its use will be limited without an HDMI port for use with a higher resolution display and compatible software.

One nice optional feature that Dell provides to buyers is mobile broadband through AT&T, Sprint or Verizon cellular networks. This is useful for those that need to be online in areas where there is no Wi-Fi coverage, but it is a fairly pricey option at $125 on top of the base price plus a contract for the cellular service.

Dell's previous Mini 10 wasn't one of the longer running netbooks on the market. With the new PineTrail platform, battery life has improved immensely. With the 6-cell battery, the Mini 10 was able to run for roughly six and a half hours during my video streaming test before it went into standby mode. More typical web usage should run about eight hours or so. This isn't the longest running netbook on the market but it is a vast improvement over their last unit and should be plenty for most users.

While the keyboard design of the Dell Mini 10 is very comfortable to use thanks to the very popular isolated key layout, the trackpad is a different story. The buttons are integrated into the touchpad itself. This reduces the overall size of trackpad but makes it extremely difficult to use the buttons at times. It also removed any multitouch gestures that were present in the old one. Users will definitely want an external mouse to use with the Mini 10.

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