Dell's New Netbook: Just a Reboot?

Dell has announced in the U.K. a 'new' netbook, the Inspiron Mini10v, an eerily similar model to the company's previous offering, the plain Mini 10. The obvious difference is price, which drops to US$300 (£200) in the cheapest Ubuntu Linux version.

The price reduction has been achieved by stripping out the odd feature that most netbook buyers would hardly have used, specifically the HDMI interface, and by using a different graphics chipset, the plain Intel GMA 500 rather than the equally basic Intel GMA 945GSE.

The idea that the average netbook user would have hooked their machine up to an HDMI-capable monitor always seemed fanciful given the limitations of the integrated graphics sub-system.

The Inspiron Mini 10v comes in two versions, one Ubuntu Linux, the other Windows XP. Both use Intel's 1.6GHz N270 Atom processor, and come with 1GB of RAM, and 160GB of hard disk space - the Linux-based Mini10v comes with an 8GB SSD drive.

The original Mini 10 used a 10.1 inch, WSVGA LCD, while the Mini10Vs use a 10.1 inch WLED equivalent, but both feature the same 3 or 6-cell batteries.

The price is what will be noticed, which now starts at £200 ($299) for the Ubuntu Linux model, or £279 for the version with XP. This compares to the Mini 10 models, which now cost US$453 (£299) and US$528 (£349), both of which running XP. What does the extra cash actually buy?

Not very much is the answer. The more expensive models use different Intel Atom chips, the Z520, and there are also options such as the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi, a £10 add-on for the dearest Mini 10. Whether this is worth up to an extra £150 is debatable.

Dell is currently quoting its UK customers delays of four weeks on the new models, which can be ordered from its website.

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