At the netbook sweet spot of a 10.1-inch screen size, the Mini 10 is sure to generate interest. It also means the keyboard is a lot more usable at 92 per cent the size of a regular keyboard, and doesn't suffer from crazy repositioning of keys.
Also bundled in is a multi-touch trackpad to assist rotation, scrolling and zoom features, although we haven't used these yet, and so will reserve judgement as to whether it approaches Apple's usability. As is all the rage, an LED backlit screen is included as well.
The old netbook stalwarts of a 1.6GHz Atom processor and 1GB of RAM are there, but the Mini 10 also comes equipped with wireless N and a 160GB hard drive (with no SSD option), and is available in black and white. Blue, pink, green and red colours will follow.
Mid-year WWAN, GPS, TV tuner, USB DVD and six-cell battery options will be released, as will a higher resolution screen.
The 16:9 screen means a resolution of 1024x576 — netbooks were already crippled with low vertical resolutions, and this is likely to infuriate most users. Just like HP's 2140, a higher resolution 1366x768 screen should be available about mid year.
The only video output is HDMI — curious considering Dell's support of DisplayPort, and business users will bemoan the lack of VGA.
It features only 1GB RAM, which means XP Home — a 2GB Vista model should be available later. As usual, no Ubuntu version will be offered in Australia.
The mouse buttons are integrated into the touchpad itself, which while lending extra keyboard space, we fear it will make the trackpad not as usable as a traditional set-up, especially when it comes to click-dragging. Time will tell.
The Dell Inspiron Mini 10 looks to be an improvement on the Mini 9, although the initial low resolution screen, lack of WWAN and three-cell battery option could hamper initial sales. We'd recommend waiting for the updated model coming later this year.
It will be available in the first half of March, at a starting price of AU$799.