Review: Dell Mini 10v Netbook

Dell Mini10v

Dell has recently released the Mini10, the newest addition to its line of netbooks. There are two versions, the Mini 10 and the Mini 10v, the 10v being the slightly economized version with fewer ports and a few different options. I chose the Mini 10v as it was available with a solid state drive on a Windows XP platform, whereas the Mini 10 options only include a solid state drive with Ubuntu, and I wanted to be able to install software that I already owned onto the machine.

The SSD option with the Mini 10v is a 16gb drive, which seems small compared to what most of us are used to, but it’s perfect for my needs. I already have a 13-inch Vaio SZ, so I wasn’t looking for a laptop to meet all of my computing needs. I wanted a second machine that I could take just about anywhere and that would fit into just about any bag, and that wasn’t so expensive that I would drive myself crazy worrying about it (the way I do about the Vaio). I planned to use it for surfing the internet and writing. I wasn’t looking for a computer that I could use for photography as I prefer a larger monitor for post-production. The 16gb hard drive prevents me from installing too many applications (which means a quick startup) and keeps me from storing my files on two different computers (I put any local files onto a flash drive or online storage and transfer them to my Vaio when I get home).

In the last month I’ve taken the Mini 10v to the lake, for tacos at the Tin Fish, shopping at the swanky local mall, out for coffee at various Starbucks and Dunn Brothers and book hunting at Barnes and Noble. It fits nicely into my little Timbuk2 Eula bag that looks like it couldn’t possibly have a laptop in it. It boots up quickly and runs smoothly, and with its candy pink casing it’s a great conversation-starter.

Outside of portability I really wanted a nice monitor, a keyboard that would be comfortable to type on and an easy-to-use touch pad. The monitor is wonderful – it’s crisp and clear, with nice contrast and accurate color. I would have preferred a higher resolution, but the 1024 x 600 resolution is in line with other netbooks, and is perfectly acceptable for my needs.

When considering netbooks, I paid close attention to the keyboards on the different models. I wanted to make sure the keys would be comfortable for typing as I hoped to be able to do quite a bit of blogging and writing on them. A standard keyboard layout was a must. This ruled out the Dell Mini 9 as some of the keys on the Mini 9 are not in their usual locations. The Mini 10 keyboard is actually really nice to type on. Dell states that the Mini 10 keyboard is 92% of the size of a full-size keyboard, but I can hardly tell the difference in key position from my Vaio – visually it looks quite a bit smaller, but I hardly ever miss a keystroke when typing. The keys feel a bit cheap compared to the Vaio, but feel solid and well-constructed in comparison to other netbooks I tried, so no complaints there.

The only place where I feel the Mini 10 falls short is the touch pad. I knew some of the issues with it from reading a number of reviews before purchase, and I’ve seen those issues myself. Probably the biggest issue is that the right and left clicks are placed on the actual pad, not on separate buttons. Consequently the cursor will sometimes move during the click. I’ve gotten around this by using the tap-to-click functionality for all single and double left clicks, and pressing down on the very corner of the pad when I need to click and drag or right click, but still sometimes the cursor moves off the intended target. But my main disappointment is with the scrolling. I’ve been spoiled by the smooth scrolling on my Vaio. The Mini 10 scrolling is jumpy; it seems to click into place rather than having a smooth and accurate scroll. I’d love to see some improvement here from Dell in a future model. That said, none of the touch pad issues have bothered me enough to convince me to carry a mouse.

The Mini 10v has three USB ports and an SD card slot, which makes it possible to add on quite a bit of storage through SD cards and flash drives. It’s important to note that the SD card slot does not fit the entire card, the card sticks out! Dell does not mention this in their marketing, and they should. I purchased a large capacity SD card to go with my Mini, thinking that I could just leave the card in all the time, but as it sticks out that’s not a possibility. The slot is nice though, and works with SDHC cards, so it’s great for transferring files from cameras and other devices that use these cards.

My Mini 10 also has a wireless b/g/n card and 1.3mp webcam. The images from the webcam seem to be par for the course for built-in laptop cameras, though I haven’t had the occasion to use it as I haven’t yet installed skype on the Mini. The wireless card works well too; I haven’t had any issues. I haven’t had a chance to try out the wireless-N connection yet as most wifi hotspots use wireless-G, and we have wireless G at home, but I’m confident it will work as smoothly as the G connection.

Overall I’m really happy with the Mini 10. The build of the machine looks and feels really nice, and feels very solid in comparison to its competition. It’s met all my needs for portability and functionality with a price tag that’s nice on my wallet, and there are only a couple of things I’d ask Dell to change on future versions. Most of all, it’s allowed me to write while out of the house without constantly worrying about theft or damage to my machine. I’ve learned I really like writing down by the lake and in coffee houses, and that, to me, makes the Mini 10 just about perfect.

Mini 10v Head-on

Dell Mini 10v

Be Sociable, Share!

3 comments to Review: Dell Mini 10v Netbook

  • Nice review! I have the Mini 9 and I absolutely love it. I am also a writer, which is why I wanted a slick little portable machine to tote with me everywhere. I was concerned a bit about the keyboard, but I actually remapped some keys and now I can touch type on it just as fast as on a traditional keyboard.

    I will admit to purchasing it just because it was the most hackable of the netbooks (I wanted one to run OS X, as I am a Mac girl…and it does so *beautifully*) but from a price, performance, and build standpoint, I was really impressed.

    I hope you enjoy yours as much as I do mine!

  • Just grabbed the feed… thanks for posting this.

  • Strange this post is totaly unrelated to what I was searching google for, but it was listed on the first page. I guess your doing something right if Google likes you enough to put you on the first page of a non related search. :)