When we originally reviewed the Inspiron Mini 12, we were largely unimpressed with Dell's take on a large-screen netbook offering. The techy types at Dell have done some tinkering under the hood with the latest model, including offering Windows XP rather than Vista. So we were curious to find out if those differences, along with a slight price drop, were enough to get us excited again.
The Mini 1210 follows almost exactly the same design note as the original Mini 9, add what looks like a big silver bezel around a larger screen, shake well and present to consumers, in essence. While the larger size does allow the 1210 to present a larger and easier to use keyboard than most 9- to 10-inch netbooks, we can't help but wonder why Dell didn't expand the keyboard out closer to the edges of the bezel. There's 2cm of space on either side that just sits there, doing nothing, and the end result means it still looks and feels like a smaller and less friendly keyboard than it arguably should be.. Take a
Netbook recipes don't tend to alter much over time, and in the Mini 1210's case, Dell has just added a few sprinkles here and there. Out with the Intel Atom Z520 1.33GHz processor, for a start, replaced by a mildly quicker Intel Atom Z530 1.6GHz processor. Memory is constant at 1GB, as is the Intel GMA 500 graphics adapter. Vista's thankfully been shown the door, which should lead to performance increases as Windows XP Home Edition comes in as a replacement. Unlike US buyers, there's no option for Ubuntu pre-installed. As we said, the recipe's been altered — but not by much.
That also extends to ports and plugs, where the 1210 offers up three USB ports, VGA, Kensington lock, Ethernet and 3.5mm headphone and microphone sockets. Networking is either cabled 10/100, Bluetooth or WiFi, although not 802.11n, which we have seen creeping into some netbook models. The 12.1-inch display offers a top resolution of 1280x800, a touch up on the basic resolution of most 10-inch models.