Dell Inspiron Mini 10v review

angle 1The Dell Inspiron Mini 10v is the first 10 inch laptop from Dell to feature an Intel Atom N270 processor. You might think that makes this laptop just like virtually every other 10 inch netbook on the market, but there are a few key features that make the Mini 10v stand apart including a good keyboard, an odd touchpad, and decent battery life.

The unit reviewed has a 10.1 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive and 6 cell battery. The model I received ships with Windows XP, but the Inspiron Mini 10v is also available with Ubuntu or Moblin Linux. The laptop is available for purchase from Dell for $299 and up.

Design

The Dell Inspiron Mini 10v is relatively compact for a 10 inch netbook thanks to a keyboard which stretches virtually from one end of the chassis to the other and a touchpad which incorporates the left and right mouse buttons into the touch area. There’s a decent sized bezel around the display, but it would be hard to make the netbook much smaller without shrinking the keyboard.

angle 2

Dell offers the netbook in a number of colors. The black model is included in the base cost, or for $40 extra you can get the netbok with a white, red, pink, blue, green, or purple lid. The model reviewed has a purple lid which is glossy but does not show fingerprints as clearly as most other glossy lids I’ve seen. The bezel around the display is matte, and while there’s a glossy silver strip of plastic in the palm rest area, it doesn’t really show fingerprints either.

top

The hinge is placed in a way so that when you open the lid it folds down a bit behind the base of the computer which helps keep the machine from taking up too much vertical space. But that also means it doesn’t open to a very wide angle.

side 1

Around the sides of the netbook you’ll find mic and headphone jacks, 3 USB ports, a VGA port, Ethernet jack, and SD card reader.

bottom

The bottom of the Inspiron Mini 10v has a single access panel for replacing or upgrading the RAM the wireless module.  If you want to upgrade the RAM, change the hard drive or other components you’ll have to disassemble the laptop, which can be a time and labor-intensive process.

battery back

If you get a 3 cell battery it will sit flush with the base of the netbook. The 6 cell battery sticks out like a sore thumb. But while the 6 cell battery isn’t exactly the most attractive, it slides firmly into place, makes a nice carrying handle, and gives the keyboard a bit of tilt which makes typing reasonably comfortable.

Keyboard and Touchpad

I usually start this section by focusing on the keyboard. But by far the most noticable feature on the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v is the touchpad. It’s nice and wide and has a decent textured feel to it. When you scroll your finger along the right side (up and down) or bottom (left and right) you can scroll through applications and web pages.

But here’s what’s really interesting: The left and right mouse buttons are built right into the touchpad. When you want to left click, you actually push down on the touchpad near the bottom left. To right-click you press down near the bottom right.

touchpad

This combination touchpad/button layout saves a lot of space without resorting to the HP style solution of putting the buttons on the left and right side of the touchpad. But there are at least two major problems with the touchpad. First, if you’re used to using one hand to move the cursor around the screen and the other to click the mouse buttons, you’ll have to be very careful with this netbook. If your clicking hand is hovering over the touchpad at the same time as your scrolling hand, there’s a good chance you’ll accidentally make the cursor jump across the screen just before you meant to click.

You can avoid this by just using one hand on the touchpad and lifting your finger and moving to the integrated buttons when you wan to click. But that leads to the second problem: If you don’t hit the integrated buttons in exactly the right spot, you’ll instead implement the tap-to-click touchpad feature. So you’ll sometimes wind up causing a left-click action when you meant to right-click. The only way I’ve found to avoid this problem is to disable the tap-to-click feature.

touchpad settings

The touchpad doesn’t support multitouch gestures, but there is an optional setting that lets you zoom in some applications by scrolling up and down with one finger on the left side of the touchpad.

I’ve been using the Inspiron Mini 10v for the past week or two and I’ve started to get used to the touchpad, but I’m still not a big fan and I find the netbook much easier to use when I plug in a USB mouse.

keyboard

The keyboard is nice and wide and features all the right buttons in all the right places. One odd feature is that the function keys at the top of the keyboard are designed a little differently from those on pretty much every other laptop I’ve ever used. Instead of hitting F11 to change your browser to full screen mode, for instance, you have to hit Fn+F11. To adjust the screen brightness you simply hit F4 or F5 without hitting the Fn key.

This arrangement actually makes a lot of sense. After all, odds are you’re going to need the volume, screen brightness, battery meter, and WiFi toggle buttons far more often than the F6 key. But if you spend a lot of time working on more than one laptop, you may occasionally find yourself hitting Fn+F7 and wondering why the volume hasn’t been muted.

Update: It turns out there’s actually an option to reverse the function of the Fn keys in the BIOS. Thanks Phil!

Display

Like many other 10 inch netbooks, the Inspiron Mini 10v has a 10.1 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel glossy display. But it doesn’t reflect quite as much glare as some other glossy screens I’ve used. I wouldn’t want to use this laptop outdoors in bright sunlight for an extended period of time,but indoors it’s quite comfortable to use.

front open

You can adjust the screen brightness using the F4 and F5 keys and I find that even at the lowest setting, the display is readable.

Performance

The laptop performs pretty much exactly as like every other machine with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and Windows XP. It can handle a variety of tasks including surfing the web with multiple browser tabs open, playing 720p video from the desktop, or Flash video from most web sites.

The Inspiron Mini 10v isn’t exactly a speed demon, but the Intel Atom N270 processor is a bit more responsive than the 1.33 Z520 chip found in the base model of Dell’s first 10 inch netbook, the Inspiron Mini 10. I’ve reviewed two different computers using that same processor used in the Asus Eee PC T91, and Eee PC 1101HA, and both left me feeling underwhelmed. It’s worth pointing out that the Dell Mini 10 is also available with a faster 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 processor, but the 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor in the Mini 10v is generally described as being more responsive.

The speakers, which are located at the front of the netbook just under the keyboard are reasonably loud but not particularly full sounding.

Battery

The Dell Inspiron Mini 10v is availabel with either a 3 cell, 24WHr battery or a 6 cell, 56Whr battery. While the 6 cell battery sticks out of the bottom of the unit and adds a bit of weight, it also provides more than twice the run time.

battery

I was able to get between 6 and 7 hours of run time out of the netbook with WiFi on and the screen brightness set at about 40%. There are certainly a few other netbooks that get better battery life, but I’m still pretty impressed with the Mini 10v’s performance. It comes pretty close to having an all-day battery, assuming you have an 8 hour workday and a decent lunch break.

Software

The unit featured in this review came with Windows XP installed. But Dell also sells the Inspiron Mini 10v with Ubuntu Linux or a Ubuntu Moblin Remix Developer Edition.

Dell packs the Windows XP version of the Inspiron Mini 10v with a handful of utilities including a WiFi manager and a Support Center application for downloading drivers and receiving Dell support alerts and other information.dell wireless

There’s also a webcam application for snapping photos, recording videos, or adding effects. And Dell includes a video chat utility that’s powered by SightSpeed.

dell support center

The computer also comes with Microsoft Works and Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer preloaded as well as McAfee Internet Security. It’s not the most impressive set of software, but you can always uninstall any programs you don’t need to free up disk space.

Verdict

If you can handle the odd touchpad, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v is a solid 10 inch netbook with good build quality, a decent keyboard, and above average battery life. But the touchpad may be a dealbreaker for some people. If you generally plug in a mouse, or don’t have a problem with the Inspiron Mini 10v touchpad’s integrated mouse buttons, then don’t sweat it. At $299 and up, the Mini 10v gives you a decent bit of bang for your buck.

Just bear in mind that the $299 model comes with a 3 cell battery. You’ll have to pay $35 more for a 6 cell battery, an upgrade which I highly recommend.

You can read more about the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v and leave comments in the Liliputing Product Database.

  • Phil

    Regarding the function key behavior on the Dell Mini 10 and 10v, there is a setting in the BIOS setup, under the “advanced” tab for changing the function key behavior between “multimedia” and “function”. THis was one of the first things I went looking to change and I was pleased that it was there.

    I have both a Mini 10 and a Mini 10v with identical specs (except for the 6-cell battery on the 10v) and I must say I prefer the 10v for the screen bezel and the N270 processor.

    If you watch the Dell Outlet site or follow them on facebook and twitter, they will often post up 15% off coupons for the Mini 10/10v. I have used these both times to purchase mine, and with tax and shipping both came out at right around $250. A pretty good deal!

  • rgathright

    Just be careful when you buy any netbook and make sure it will fit your fingers and is comfortable to use first!

    While at Fry's Electronics, I ran some benchmarks on the Dell Inspiron Mini 10V and found they did not compare well to the ASUS 1005HA netbook. Here are the results: http://bit.ly/44CHFm

  • dhalbert

    The hatch on the bottom is for the wireless cards, no? There has been a ton of discussion (and a how-to video) on mydellmini.com about how RAM access requires complete disassembly of the machine.

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  • http://www.mynetbookworld.com/ Netbook Reviews

    Nice review. It is cery comprehensive. Thank you so much.

  • Cory Bureau

    How do you get the cupon?

  • Caleb

    Hello, just wanted to say that i love this laptop! however, there is one problem i find quite irksome, and seemingly no one else on the internet addresses this problem.

    i find the “Tap to Click” feature for the touchpad very annoying, so i turn it off. Thus im fine and happy – however, when i turn off my computer, the “Tap to Click” feature turns on again. So every time i turn on my computer, i have to turn off “Tap to Click.” Is there any way that i can save the options ive selected so that i wouldnt have to keep turning off that feature?

    please email me if you have a solution.

  • Caleb
  • http://jasonhamster.wordpress.com/ jasonhamster

    i really searched this Fn buttons thru google and luckily my problem regarding these buttons have been solved.

    i am always annoyed when hitting the F1 -56 buttons. I always prompted by wireless options, battery life, etc. I cant use these buttons for playing, i needed to hold the Fn button.

    So the solution is to configure it in BIOS? thanks a lot!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/honeybeever Jasper

    I've had this computer for a few days now. It seems a bit problematic. The touchpad doesn't respond well. But other than that I am satisfied! Here is my unboxing of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66NifCrGBs8

  • rachel

    i dont like it honestly, it takes time to respond and the audio sucks. the screen is too small for my taste and it doesn't hold any new features tht i hadnt seen in the classic Inspiron. If you want good quality try an apple.

  • john5841

    This machine isn't meant to be a power house, but what's the sense of having a web cam when the audio on video chat (Windows Live Messenger) is so choppy it's inaudible. I'm told that I'm coming through loud & clear on the other end though. I thought upgrading the memory would help untill I read what that entailed. Other than that, it does do what I want it to, surfing the web while relaxing in my recliner with a very small footprint and low cost.

  • JaceyV

    uy I bought 2 for Christmas gifts, one for me and one for my daughter. The audio is horrible and the touchpad is a nightmare, had I known I wouldn't have purchased. No more Netbooks for me. Now my mouse quit working so going to have to buy another. Oh yes, the other concern is while typing along it continually skips to an upper line. My first DELL and last!

  • annejaa

    I like this laptop.Its sophisticated new design attracts you more and also a plenty of configuration options.Dell's basic Netbook adds better and improved battery life.It also includes an industry-standard, one-year, parts-and-labor, mail-in warranty with the system.But i don't like its low-resolution display and its small keyboard and touch pad.Otherwise this one is the best model amongst all.
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  • brian

    do you like the audio on your netbook? Let me know please because im thinking about ordering one.

    Thank You

  • ryan

    this is a netbook, not a full fledged laptop. remember?

    if you plan to spend $1000+ on an apple computer, consider what a $1000 PC will buy.

  • Jeanette

    Many good things about this netbook, but the audio is terrible. First one, had hard drive malfunction, took hours of dell support time to get them to send a replacement, then a tech. Audio problems followed, finally sent me a new one, which has a different set of audio problems. I've spent over 15 hours with mediocre tech support and am giving up on getting audio good enough for a google chat. Frustrating.

  • Jeanette

    Many good things about this netbook, but the audio is terrible. First one, had hard drive malfunction, took hours of dell support time to get them to send a replacement, then a tech. Audio problems followed, finally sent me a new one, which has a different set of audio problems. I've spent over 15 hours with mediocre tech support and am giving up on getting audio good enough for a google chat. Frustrating.

  • Mini10vquery

    Im sure it says that is says it haves windows 7?

  • Mini10vquery

    Dont it have windows 7 not Xp?

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  • http://www.laptopbatteriesinc.co.uk/dell-inspiron-600m-series-laptop-battery-p-1914.html dell laptop battery

    a Mini 10 and a Mini 10v with identical specs (except for the 6-cell battery on the 10v) and I must say I prefer the 10v for the screen bezel and the N270 processor.

  • Sanchez Uzziel

    Hey, I buy a Dell Mimi 11z, but if the laptop have de battery and linux live USB, the keyboard not response! Know why???

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    i dont like it honestly, it takes time to respond and the audio sucks. 

  • GLam

    need to replace my 3 cell battery on my dell mini 10v.  Can I just as well buy the 6 cell or do I have to replace with the original 3 cell battery?

    Any help is appreciated.  Thanks.

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  • http://suckmytrend.com/ Ashley Pearson

    Can this run Ubuntu 12.04

  • Smorfnimda

    This thing is fanless and gets hot. It runs so slow I want to take it outside and shoot it until it is in little pieces!! I upgraded to 2 gigs RAM and put Win 7 on it.