One Size Larger
By Aloysius Low
If the success of the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 was any indication, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 will fare just as well, given that the new, larger version touts definite improvements.
More Space for Fingers
The exterior of our prototype Mini 10 looks exactly like its 8.9-inch predecessor, but under the cover, you'll find quite the difference. The Mini 9 has a huge swath of unused space above its keyboard due to its large battery. This has been amended, with a smaller battery on the Mini 10 that allows space for a larger keyboard instead of the Mini 9's truncated version.
This keyboard made full use of the available space and is stretched almost to the edges of the machine. Typing on the Mini 10 was a smooth experience due to its larger keys, albeit with some very minimal flex. Dell has reversed the Function keys to act as control buttons for the Wi-Fi, brightness, volume and other adjustments. You can still access the normal F1 - F10 keys via the Fn button if needed.
The trackpad too has been tweaked. Buttons have been replaced with a trackpad that acts and clicks like mouse buttons on the left and right edges of the pad. The trackpad is also multi-touch capable, which while interesting is really missing the point. Unlike Apple's newer MacBooks, the multi-touch on the Mini 10 lacks both the polish and the applications to support it. Still, it does have its own charm with decent responsiveness and one can scroll using the trackpad just by placing two fingers on it. Just like the MacBook.
As the first Inspiron Mini to feature a 16:9 screen, the 10-inch display of the Mini 10 serves up a 1024 x 576 resolution which works fine for its size. You won't really notice the loss of the 24 pixels compared to the typical 16:10 screens. Colors were vibrant on the display, but the reflective glossy panel will divide opinions.
Besides the changes mentioned above, Dell has replaced the analog video output on the Mini 9 with a HDMI port. While the Mini 10 isn't capable of playing back 1080p high definition content, it can manage some 720p videos (depending on the bitrate). No doubt, it's a feature for the future, but it does restrict the Mini 10 to newer devices that can accept HDMI input unless one has the right adapter.
Despite these issues, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 is a significant upgrade from the older and smaller Mini 9. Dell has made good use of the extra space that comes with a 10-inch model to produce a better keyboard that was a joy to type on. While we can't comment yet on its performance or battery life due to its prototype nature, we're pretty sure Dell has a nifty little machine on their hands with the S$899 Inspiron Mini 10.