Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Dell's Inspiron Mini 10 Reviewed
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM
This is an in-depth review video of the Dell Inspiron Mini 10. A couple of months ago I did the unboxing video, and after some heavy use here's my full review - it's the longest video review I've done to date. As configured from Dell Canada, it cost me $559 CAD in March 2009 - and now, in May 2009, the same configuration is available for $499 CAD. It goes to show you how often Dell changes the prices on their products, and how the only way to find out how much a Dell computer costs is to go to the Dell Web site yourself and configure one. This Mini 10 is cherry red in colour, uses the Intel Atom Z530 (1.6 Ghz) CPU, has 1 GB of DDR2 RAM, uses Windows XP Home SP3, has a 10.1 inch 16:9 aspect ratio screen (1024 x 576 resolution), a 160 GB 5400 RPM 2.5 inch hard drive, a 1.3 megapixel Webcam, a 802.11g WiFi card, and is powered by a 3-cell 24 WHr battery.
As I mention in the video, since I purchased the Dell Mini 10, Dell has come up with a new model: the Dell Mini 10v. The 10v is puzzling, because if I configure a 10v to match the specs of the 10 I configured above for $499 CAD, the 10v comes out at only $409 CAD - and the only difference is that the 10v uses the Intel Atom N270 rather than the Z530 that the regular Mini 10 uses. Both CPUs run at 1.6 Ghz, and both are on a 533mhz bus. The only difference I can see is that the N270 uses 2.5 watts of power under load while the Z530 uses 2.2 watts under load. In other words, not much of a difference from a consumer's point of view. Equally important is the fact that Dell is now offering a 1366 x 788 screen option, and a 6-cell battery - both choices that weren't available to me when I ordered mine.
At the request of a YouTube commenter, I did some more video tests using Quicktime and Windows Media Player, and while playback was fine (no obvious major glitches like I saw with VLC), the quality of the playback wasn't great - the Intel GMA500 GPU really sucks at scaling video, and artifacts popped up constantly. I thought the GMA950 was bad as a GPU, but the GMA500 is even worse. I'm hopeful that Dell can release a graphics driver update and smooth out the quality issues I saw. As it stands now, I'd be more inclined to recommend an upgraded 10v, which uses the GMA950, rather than a regular Mini 10. The limitation there is that the 10v doesn't allow for the 1366 x 768 resolution screen, so you'd have to make the call on which is more important to you: a higher-resolution screen or better video playback. Come on Dell, why do we have to choose between the two?
Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He's still searching for the ultimate netbook.
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