Benchmarks and Conclusion
Well this is where we hit a snag. Most benchmarks that easily run on other Atoms just don't seem to like the Z520.
The ones that did work mostly reported meager performance, as the Z520 is the slowest Atom to be used in netbooks, but at least we can see how it measures up compared to the classic N270/945.
Sandra CPU scores were relatively low compared to an Atom N270.
The same goes for Cinebench.
HD Tune shows the 160GB WD hard drive is not a too fast either.
The Inspiron Mini 10 is pretty much a mixed bag, and although it shows promise and offers a few nice features and design concepts, it has a few serious shortcomings as well.
For some reason Dell chose to launch it with a 3-cell battery, which doesn't provide you with a lot of juice. Most vendors are slowly phasing out 3-cell units in favor of 6-cell or 4-cell batteries, even on entry level SKUs. Of course, you can get a 6-cell power pack for the Mini 10, but you're basically paying for something you are supposed to get straight out of the box, and that's something no consumer enjoys.
In terms of performance, the Z520 is a bit on the slow side, although it can still cope with the typical netbook workload. The upside of using the Atom Z520 and US15W chipset is that the Inspiron Mini stays pretty cool and quiet no matter what you do.
It's got one of the biggest, if not the biggest keyboard of any netbook. The layout is excellent, but the loose (and loud) Space key tends to annoy, badly. Then again, it's quite possible that someone at the assembly line was having a bad day when our sample passed by, and we're not sure all units are affected by this small, but pretty annoying issue. In spite of this, I have to admit the keyboard is very easy to use, and this is the first time I'm actually typing a review on a netbook.
The trackpad measures 78x36mm, and like the keyboard, it's one of the biggest ones we've come across on netbooks. It is large enough to use multi-touch with ease, which is not the case with many netbooks, on which multi-touch is purely a gimmick you probably won't be using much. Not everyone will enjoy the integrated keys, but I liked them, and the space they save.
HDMI is a nice touch, which most netbooks on the market lack. It's a bit strange to see Dell pioneering HDMI in this market segment, as it's been pushing DisplayPort for quite a while now.
Dell did pretty well this time around. The Mini 10 is a very good looking machine, and it's got quite a few things going for it. Basically, all it needs is a 6-cell battery and some glue for the Space key. Other than that, it's a nice piece of kit. If you're looking for a netbook with a big keyboard and some extra trackpad acreage, it's a good choice, and you'll also get good looks and HDMI.
It's biggest downside is the $399 price tag. In case you want a 6-cell battery and a Z530, it will cost you $100 extra. Fortunately, Dell has announced a stripped down Mini 10v SKU for $299, and that sounds like a pretty good deal.