The Inspiron Mini is a nice-looking netbook, with its slick white finish. But when opened, it does feel a little flimsy in the hands; kind of like a slightly smaller netbook has been encased in thin plastic. But at this price it’s difficult to expect much more.
Frustratingly, although Windows 7 is bundled with the Inspiron Minis sold to customers (according to the website), the review unit provided to us ran Windows XP. As such, it’s rather difficult to advise as to the computer’s capability to run Windows 7. We’re just going to have to give it the benefit of the doubt here, although most netbooks these days seem to run Windows 7 fairly well. The specs also seem to be adequate, with its Intel Atom N455 single-core 1.66GHz processor and 1GB DDR3 1333MHz memory. It does run Vista very well, which tends to imply that it should breeze through Windows 7. Of course, we’re just speculating.
What we can comment on, however, is the design and its ease of use, and the Inspiron Mini scores pretty highly in this regard. The keyboard, reportedly some 92% the size of a regular keyboard, is actually rather good for typing with its well-defined keys. It certainly doesn’t feel like too much of a compromise for those used to larger-form notebooks.
The Inspiron Mini does have a rather impressive battery life – you should be able to get upwards of six hours’ worth of use out of it from a single charge, which makes for an excellent portable solution.
As with all Dell computers, you can customise your Inspiron Mini at the website before you proceed to the checkout. However, it’s limited to the colour and the extent of your Microsoft Office licence in this case.
PROS: Large hard drive. Three USB ports. Very useable keyboard and track pad. Affordable.
CONS: The construction feels rather cheap.
VERDICT: The Dell Inspiron Mini is a very competitive offering at this price, and it’s an ideal travel companion. Usability is often the major compromise when it comes to using a netbook, but I’m pleased to report that it’s not so much of an issue here.