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Keyboard and Trackpad
Obviously designers made use of the extra room, and fitted the Mini 12 with a spacious, well laid out keyboard.
It's by no means spectacular, it's 92 percent standard size, just like the one used on the Mini 10, but it's a far cry from most netbook keyboards. There's not much to complain about, although it feels a bit soft, it's still somewhat better than the keyboard used on the Mini 10. The plastic used on the keys is a bit too rough for our taste.
The trackpad is pretty bit and comfy. Almost nothing to complain about here either, although it lacks multi-touch, which is featured on the Mini 10.
The keys could have been a bit better, they are pretty soft, and have a bit too much travel.
Ergonomics, Everyday Use
Obviously the Mini 12 is a bit easier to live with than 10-inch netbooks. Not only does it offer 2 more inches of screen acreage, but it's also got quite a bit more pixels to boot too, 1280x800, like most 12-inchers. You won't scroll much, and some applications which are next to useless on netbooks will be a lot more enjoyable. Also, the extra resolution allows for hassle free browsing and text editing with much less scrolling and straining.
Don't get us wrong, we like 10-inch netbooks as well, but a 1280x800 panel makes a world of difference. You can use it for hours without straining your eyes, and more importantly getting annoyed. Sadly, the Mini 12 is the only 12-inch netbook on the market, and it won't stick around for much longer, as it seems dell will focus on the 10-inch Mini 10 and Mini 10v.
The connector layout is straightforward.
Two USBs, VGA and DC-in on the left...
Another USB, along with a memory card reader and LAN connector on the right.
Nothing at the front or back.
We got a 3-cell sample, and obviously battery life wasn't too impressive. We were getting under 3 hours of endurance, and depending on the workload and wireless use, it could even run out of steam after about 2 hours flat.