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CNET First Look
Dell Mini 10 (HD)Dell's popular Netbook adds HD video acceleration for a solid movie-watching experience, but requires a still-in-beta Flash update for streaming video.
>> I'm Dan Ackerman, and we are here with something that might look a little bit familiar to you. It is the Dell Mini 10 netbook. And it seems like every time you turn around, we're looking at another Dell Mini 10. What makes this guy different is it has an HD screen, a 1366 by 768 screen, and it's got that Broadcom Crystal HD video accelerator that you might have heard about. So I'm calling this particular version the Dell Mini 10 HD. Now, the big difference between the regular Mini 10s that we've looked at before and this guy is obviously a same size screen, but higher resolution gives you some more screen real estate and makes text and icons and things seem smaller, but still pretty readable and a much better netbook experience, I think, overall, than the lower resolution 1024 by 600 screens. But most importantly, it has that video accelerator trip. That's kind of like the Nvidia Ion, which is the basic 3D graphics and HD video playback for netbooks. But you can't get the Nvidia Ion in the current generation of netbooks, at least not yet. So the only option you've got right now for real HD video playback is this Broadcom accelerator. Now, there have been a few problems with that so far. Mainly, it works fine for playing [inaudible] video files on your local machine. But if you want to stream an HD video, like from Hulu or YouTube, and if you've got a netbook and you want to watch a video, seems like a pretty basic thing that you'd want to do, it didn't work before this. You needed the latest beta of the Flash Player from Adobe. You needed Flash 10.1 beta 3. Now, that just came out, so we've downloaded it and downloaded the latest Broadcom drivers, installed them on here, and I'll show you a couple of examples of playing that HD video, both locally and streaming video. And you know what? It works better. Still not quite perfect. And the concept of replying on beta software that you have to download to get basic functionality out of your time, well, that seems a little jacked up, if you ask me. Now, first, we're going to take a look at a video file we've got right here on this machine. This is a 720p video. 1080p videos also work fine, but there's really no point in watching one of those on a screen that the resolution does not support. So there you can see full screen 720p video. Plays pretty smooth. Now, our next test is streaming HD video from a website. I've got YouTube going up here. And I've got a 720p movie trailer. And there you can it plays. It's not as smooth as that WMD file we had on the desktop. But it's reasonably watchable, and it's certainly a lot better than you'd get trying to play in HD web streaming video on a netbook without either the video ion or this Broadcom video accelerator. If you didn't one of those two parts, you'd basically just be watching a slideshow. So on the plus side, with a part like that video accelerator in a netbook like this Dell Mini 10, you can actually watch highdefinition videos that you have on your machine, and you can get reasonably okay performance watching highdefinition streaming web video. Of course, if you wait a little while, we're going to have systems with Nvidia's Ion GPU, which kind of does the same thing and adds basic 3D graphics, which you certainly don't get from a system like this. So it's kind of a tossup, if you want to get one right now or you want to wait a little bit. Pricingwise, we were pleased to see that adding the video accelerator to this Dell Mini 10 did not move the price up very much at all. So that is definitely a plus. Also, again, on the downside, if you've got to wait for the third beta version of a piece of third party software in order to get basic functionality out of your machine, well, we don't really think that's particularly consumerfriendly. I'm Dan Ackerman, and that is the Dell Mini 10 HD edition.