The Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook is also available as a cheaper version, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v, starting at £199.
Chasing up the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 is a cut-price version, the Mini 10v. We assume the added ‘v' in the name denotes value, as this model cuts a few corners in the specifications - all sweetened with a tempting starting price of only £199.
For that pound-under-£200 tag, you get a netbook very much based on the Mini 10, but with a little 8GB solid-state drive in place of a hard disk, an older graphics chipset, and Ubuntu Linux 8.04 operating system. Bluetooth has been stripped out too, and the screen, while still all-too glossy and 10in in size, loses the edge-to-edge glass effect.
We tested a sample provided by the Dixons Stores Group (DSG), who have bottled selling the Linux version and have instead opted to load Windows XP alongside a regular 160GB hard drive for storage. This Dell Inspiron Mini 10v sells for £279 from PC World or Currys, or £249 from fellow DSG brand Dixons.
Where the first Mini 10 uses either a 1.33GHz Z520 or 1.6GHz Z530 Intel Atom, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v takes a first-generation 1.6GHz N270 Atom. But differences between the Z530 and N270 are minimal: they share the same clock speed, 512kB L2 cache and 533MHz front-side bus, although the Z-part claims a 2W rather than 2.5W thermal design power (TDP).
Turning towards the graphics chipset, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v falls back to the more popular Intel GMA 950. Out goes any pretension of playing high-definition video (which frankly is not working well with the first Mini 10's Intel GMA 500 processor anyway), along with a digital HDMI video output.
In its favour, the economy Dell Inspiron Mini 10v model has more in common with the Dell Mini 9. And as we've discovered, this makes the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v a prime candidate for upgrading to Mac OS X, requiring little extra work to get the Dell netbook fully operational on the more capable operating system.
In our lab speed tests, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v fell a few points behind the Mini 10: we measured just 31 points in WorldBench 6, against 35 points for the Mini 10. We did note, however, that the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v failed to run the Nero file copying test; that's in addition to Roxio video conversion and Autodesk rendering tests, which have confounded most Atom-powered netbooks to date.
Battery life of the original Mini 10 was disappointing, scoring just 183 minutes in MobileMark 2007 Productivity. The new Dell Inspiron Mini 10v couldn't even stretch to three hours; up to 161 minutes was the longest it could muster from its little 3-cell battery.
Build quality is comparable to the Mini 10 - a little more creaky and plasticky perhaps but with a good, typable keyboard, and a pivoted trackpad that's slightly wider than those on the majority of netbooks.
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