The Dell Mini 10v and Dell Mini 10
With the Dell Mini 10v and the Mini 10 Dell seems to have pulled out all the stops in the 'lets make the customers head spin stakes'. It's no surprise that even on the Dell website the real differences between the two are not easy to spot.
Like Chalk and Cheese?
In the Mini 10 and the Mini 10v We have two very different Dell netbooks.
Named almost exactly the same and looking pretty much identical on first glance but one (the 10v) is a no frills cheap as possible affair and the other is more of a 'do it all' netbook solution, but at some cost!
Starting with what they have in common, both the Dell Mini 10 and Dell Mini 10v share the same styling and come in almost identical looking packages. Their looks are not spectalcular, although improved over the Mini 9, but they are available in more colors than any other supplier so you should find one to suit you. There are minor differences in size and weight according to the specs but they are so tiny you would be hard pushed to tell what they are when you hold either of them in your hand.
The keyboards and trackpad and the battery are also identical on both with the keyboard being the full width of the machine and improving the typing experience considerably. Generally you should have few problems with touch typing.
The trackpad is a novel design and does away with the normal two buttons above, below (or god forbid) on the side and instead hinges the upper part of the track pad so that pressing in the upper left or right corners acts as a mouse click. It's a good idea and saves space on base of the machine which in turn allows the wider keyboard whether you feel comfortable with it or not is mainly just a case of getting used to it, it seems to work OK in our experience.
Dell Mini TV!
Now things start to diverge between the two models. While both are available with a 1024x600 pixel screen the Mini 10 has an option for a higher resoloution 1366x768 screen. The large screen allows more to be displayed at one time and provides the ability to display full 720p movie footage on a netbook.
The screens run from edge to edge of the machine and are glass so look good but can have reflection issues under bright lighting. Also consider that while the higher resolution screen gives you improved web browsing it can make menus and text rather small which could be an issue depending on your eyesight.
The Mini 10 also comes with an HDMI connector allowing you to output to a HDTV. This could be a great feature if you need to give presentations on the road or if you want to use it as a media center for your lounge.
Once inside the box the differences continue. The Dell Mini 10v has the pretty much industry standard Intel Atom N270 or N280 processor but the Mini 10 has the Intel Atom Z520 or Z530. In practice there is not a huge difference in general performance but the Z series have lower power requirements and the chipset they are supplied with is geared more towards multi media type applications.
This means that a Mini 10 with the higher resolution screen and the Z530 will not only be able to display 720p video it will also run considerably longer on the one battery charge.
When it comes to expandability the manufacturer supplied options for most netbooks are usually minimal but with the Mini 10 Dell provide options for integrated TV tuner and GPS as well as the usual larger hard drive. The Dell Mini 10v is limited to just hard drive options and then not as large as with the 10.
All the base versions of the Mini 10 and 10v are provided with 3 cell batteries which as usual don't really do the job that a netbook demands. Upgrades to a spectacularly ugly and awkward 6 cell are available but, of course, up goes the cost again. The Mini 10 will fair better than the 10v due to it's lower power consumption managing around 3 to 4 hours with care compared to the Dell Mini 10v's 2.5 to 3 hours. With the Mini 10 and the 6 cell battery you should be able to see over 8 hours which is pretty good.
The Dell Mini 10v is a fine, good value netbook with a great keyboard and inovative touch pad. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the other manufacturers 10 inch offerings and doesnt come up short. Battery life is disapointing but it's good value and worth consideration.
The Dell Mini 10 in it's base configurations is more expensive than the 10v and in that form doesn't provide a whole lot more than the 10v. When you add in the optional high res screen and the TV Tuner, GPS and larger battery you have a netbook that is homing on what the perfect netbook could be but the price goes way up to around twice that of the Mini 10v.
On the whole we would say go with the Dell Mini 10 over the Dell Mini 10v. It's more expensive but the better battery life of the base model is worth it if you are away from power for extended periods. You will have the opertunity to pick options to suit your precise needs and while adding to the cost, ultimately, the best netbook for you is going to be the one that does what you want.
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