HP, Dell and Acer are the world's top three PC vendors, but only one of them is major player in the netbook market. Acer has managed to outsell every vendor out there, including Asus, and American heavyweights have been rather slow to react.
However, both Dell and HP now have competitive netbooks to offer, but they are still dwarfed by Acer's and Asustek's Aspires and Eee's. The Inspiron Mini 10 is the latest Dell netbook to appear, following the Mini 9 and Mini 12, which is significant in that it was the first netbook powered by a Z-series Atom, and the first 12-inch Atom on the market.
The Mini 10 is powered by an Atom Z520 at 1.3GHz and US15W chipset. It has 1GB of memory and a 160GB hard drive. Most vendors opt for the N270 or N280, or the Z530 at 1.6GHz. Another thing that sets the Mini 10 apart from the competition is the the addition of an HDMI out. However, there's no VGA out.
Dell used a 1024x576 glare screen on the Inspiron Mini 10, and it's pretty good in terms of display quality.
Design and Build Quality
Dell's designers got it right this time around. The Mini 10 looks pretty stylish. It's slightly slimmer than the average netbook, and some details, such as the buttonless trackpad and glossy lid look pretty nice.
The lid gently tapers toward the edges, creating the illusion of a much thinner device. As you can see, the bezel is pretty big, and overall the Mini 10 has a pretty big footprint for a 10-incher. The palmrests are also glossy, but they're not prone to smudging and don't collect fingerprints like CSI crews.
Dell put the large footprint to good use, and managed to squeeze a 92 percent sized keyboard into the Mini 10. It looks pretty good, and it's even bigger than the keyboard on Dell's 12-inch Mini. There's very little unused space on either side of it, and it's probably the biggest keyboard you're likely to see on a netbook, at least until 11.6-inch models start to appear on the market. The trackpad looks stylish, befitting the slim and elegant design theme.
Overall, the Mini 10 is a pretty good looking machine. It's thin, and it looks stylish, a bit more stylish than we've come to expect from Dell.
Build quality is a mixed bag. Some parts, like the lid and the bottom of the chassis feel very robust, while others feel a bit on the cheap side. The lid is almost impossible to twist, and the rough plastic used on the bottom of the chassis feels very durable.
The palmrests tend to flex a bit when under stress, and so does the keyboard, but to a lesser degree. It takes quite a bit of effort to bend the palmrests, so this is no big deal. However, the keyboard is rather loud, and feels bouncy.
Overall, build quality is pretty good, at least as far as netbooks go. The loud keyboard and loose Space key are the most annoying issue as far as build quality goes.