Dell’s colourful netbook inspires

IT’S REALLY hard to review netbooks because most of them are almost identical in terms of hardware specifications. Dell’s Inspiron Mini 10 is also not that different from what’s on offer from other manufacturers but it beats them in style.

In specifications it’s a rather average netbook: Intel Atom 1.66GHz processor, 250GB hard drive, 1GB RAM, 10.1 inch screen, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, webcam, SD card slot and Windows 7 Starter Edition. Basically, this is not a powerful computer, that’s for sure, but it’ll suit you well if you want email, web, word processing and other not too demanding tasks. To be fair, those are typical netbook tasks so it’s what you should expect to do with a computer like this.

The Mini 10 is an updated version of the first line of netbooks from Dell and one thing Dell changed was the hinge for the display, how it attaches to the main part of the netbook. It’s a bit hard to explain but now the display sits on top of the bottom part and doesn’t swing to the back like it used to. This makes for a more compact computer when you’re using it and it’s one of those things to which you go “why didn’t I think of that.”

Battery life, with the standard 6-cell battery, is about eight hours on “Power saver” mode, which reduces performance, but not to an unusable level. For a netbook today that’s good but not best in class.

For a netbook, 250GB of storage space is more than enough for most users and with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Ethernet port there are connection options for all your needs. If I had a choice, I’d pick a solid state (SSD) drive for a netbook because it’s faster and less susceptible to breaking if you drop the computer. However, SSD would jack up the prize considerably and make it a less attractive purchase for many customers.

Like many other netbooks the low screen resolution (1024 x 600 pixels) may be an issue. I’ve had to make the task bar- typically at the bottom of the screen — automatically hide to be able to see some dialogue windows fully. In at least one application the task bar, while visible, covers the OK and Cancel buttons in the Preference dialogue.

For a netbook, the keyboard is great but the touchpad is frustrating because of the integrated mouse buttons. The buttons are part of the pad but clicks are only registered on a small area. Windows 7 Starter Edition is another issue with the Inspiron Mini 10. There are just too many limitations to Starter Edition and chances are you’re going to get annoyed with them quickly. It might be worth upgrading to a more complete Windows version but that adds to the price of the Dell of course.

Available from Dh1,299, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 is a good alternative if you’re in the market for a stylish netbook but make sure you can get along with the trackpad and Windows 7 Starter Edition before you buy it.


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