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Dell Inspiron Mini 10v Netbook Computer (Intel Atom N270 review: Dell Inspiron Mini 10v Netbook Computer (Intel Atom N270

Dell Inspiron Mini 10v Netbook Computer (Intel Atom N270

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman

Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a semi-regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

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The "v" in the Dell Mini 10v's name is seemingly there to indicate value for thrifty Netbook shoppers. The system is in many ways hard to distinguish from its more expensive cousin and is one of the better under-$299 Netbook packages we've seen.

OVR
7.9

Dell Inspiron Mini 10v Netbook Computer (Intel Atom N270

The Good

Same basic chassis as Dell's more expensive Netbooks; very low entry price.

The Bad

Limited configuration options; inset screen is not as nice as the Mini 10's edge-to-edge glass.

The Bottom Line

Dell's Mini 10v keeps a lot of the features of the more expensive Mini 10, while dropping the price below $300. It's one of only a handful of $299 Netbooks that doesn't look and feel especially cheap.

It does, however, lack the high-end configuration options of the regular Mini 10, including a higher-resolution screen and mobile broadband antenna.

Our $334 review unit adds a larger 6-cell battery, and there are also CPU and hard-drive upgrade options, but no way to get the higher-resolution 1,366x768 screen, HDMI output, or mobile broadband options available in the Mini 10. But if you're fan of the wide flat keys and reasonably slim design of the Mini 10, the less expensive Mini 10v version offers the same basic look and feel for less.

Like the Dell Mini 10, the Mini 10v is not as streamlined as Asus' latest Netbooks or the minimalist HP Mini 5101. Instead Dell's Mini line takes its design cues from the bigger laptops in the Inspiron family, with similar rounded edges and shiny surfaces.

Unlike Dell's older 9-inch Netbook keyboards, there are no missing keys or major space compromises, and important keys, such as the shift, tab, and control keys, are relatively full-size. The wide, flat keys go nearly edge-to-edge, but the long, letterbox-style touchpad has to squeeze its mouse buttons directly into the lower left and right corners of the pad. It's far from our favorite Netbook touchpad, but better than the similar long touchpad with buttons on the far sides found on HP's Mini 110.

The 10.1-inch display on the Mini 10v is a standard 1,024x600 one, so if you want a more HD experience, you'll need to trade up to the Mini 10, which offers an option for a 1,366x768 screen (which we liked a lot). The inset display on the Mini 10v kept glare down, but this is still a very glossy screen.

While the Mini 10 has an HDMI port, with the less expensive 10v you're stuck with a basic VGA output, plus SD and 3 USB ports. Trading up to 802.11n Wi-Fi is a $25 upgrade, and adding Bluetooth is $20.

Dell's reputation for offering highly configurable systems is well-earned, and even though the 10v doesn't offer as many options as the regular Mini 10, you can still swap in a larger 160GB hard drive for $25 or a slightly faster Intel Atom N280 CPU, also for $25.

Like most of the Netbooks we've reviewed, the Dell Mini 10v uses the 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor (although one interesting exception is the non-v version of the Mini 10, which uses the Atom's Z530 alternative). Its performance was exactly in line with typical Netbooks, and it works well for basic Netbook tasks, including Web surfing, basic media viewing, and working on office docs, which is what these low-cost, low-power systems are primarily intended for.

Juice box
Dell Inspiron Mini 10v Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.90
Sleep (10 percent) 0.86
Idle (25 percent) 5.7
Load (5 percent) 14.18
Raw kWh 24.18
Annual energy cost $2.74

The Dell Inspiron Mini 10v ran for 5 hours and 45 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included 6-cell battery. That's very impressive, even for a low-power Netbook. However, the battery is especially bulky and sticks out from the bottom of the system, raising up the rear end. A smaller 3-cell battery is what you get in the base $299 configuration.

Dell offers an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Adding on-site service (after what the company calls "remote diagnosis") seems reasonable at $19, and moving up to two years is a $59 upgrade. Online support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads.

Jalbum photo conversion test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Dell Inspiron Mini 10v
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 120GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Dell Inspiron Mini 10
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 160GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Lenovo Ideapad S10-2
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 160GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Asus Eee PC 1005HA
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 224MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 160GB Hitachi 5400rpm

Acer Aspire One AOD250
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 224MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 160GB Seagate 5400rpm

HP Mini 5101
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 224MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 160GB Seagate 7200rpm

OVR
7.9

Dell Inspiron Mini 10v Netbook Computer (Intel Atom N270

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 6Battery 9Support 7
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