The original Dell Mini 12 notebook computer promised so much, a quality 12 screen with sharp 1280×800 resolution screen, almost fullsize keyboard, light weight and aesthetic design but was hampered by forcing buyers to use Windows Vista.
VERDICT: The 2nd generation Mini 1210’s improved CPU and performance “upgrade” from Windows Vista to Windows XP help a lot but cliches like “close, but no cigar” come to mind because the overall package is still crippled by the slow 1.8-inch 4200RPM hard disk drive & puny 3 cell battery that will force you to scurry to a powerpoint every 2-3 hours.
If Dell Australia had used a slightly faster hard disk drive and offered an optional 6 cell battery and Ubuntu linux operating system like it does in the USA than the Dell Inspiron Mini 12 could have been a real contender offering a great look, practical features and ultraportable lightweight laptop for road warriors.
- Light enough to carry with ease and slim enough to fit in a Fedex envelope (I tried and it fitted with space to spare)
- The keyboard and trackpad were very comfortable to use in during the last few weeks when I used the Dell Inspiron Mini 1210 to do live Twitter and blogging coverage at several conferences.
- The 12 screen has a spacious 1280×800 resolution screen which is much more usable than the cramped sub-XGA displays of most 10″ and 9″ netbooks.
- Builtin 1.3mp Webcam and microphone make Skype web conferencing trouble-free
- When set on power saver mode, it can just barely run 2 applications at once, try a 3rd application and the system freezes for ages while it’s trying to handle the load
- The 3 cell battery lasts just a tick under 3 hours if you’re using WiFI and typing notes – but only in Power Saver mode which restricts you to 1 application at a time, don’t try multi-tasking. When the battery is flat it takes 90minutes to recharge to 100% if left unused on power saver mode
- This is not a netbook computer which you can watch movies on battery only – Viewing a DIVX movie at fullscreen the system barely lasted more than an hour and a half. Also it had to be set to “performance” mode otherwise the audio/video kept losing synch.
- I don’t understand why Dell chose such a slow 1.8″ 4200RPM hard disk as it creates a severe bottleneck for system performance
Other People’s Reviews
“The keyboard, while not quite full sized, was still bliss when compared to the cramped stylings of the other netbooks I’ve looked at so far. The screen is also gorgeous, with the extra inches adding significantly to the user experience – whoever said size doesn’t matter wasn’t talking about netbooks.
It’s an interesting conundrum – the Mini 12 seems to have sacrificed processing power, battery life and general usability, but replaced them with a gorgeous screen, solid build and usable keyboard. But it’s just not the perfection I’ve been seeking. A balance between the Mini 9 and Mini 12 seems to be the sweet spot – perhaps 10 inches is the path to Netbook Nirvana?”
– Gizmodo Australia
“For such a physically big notebook, it’s a bit perplexing that Dell ships it with only a three-cell battery. It does enable the slim lines of the 1210 to shine, but at the same time, combining a small battery and a big screen is never going to be a recipe for lengthy battery life.
Dell has done some work to make the Mini 1210 more appealing, including dropping the price a touch. Still, at this size and price point, you can pick up a notebook with more bells, whistles and above all performance, and without the inherent limitations of the Atom processor.”
– CNET Australia
“Dell’s Mini 12 is the first netbook that breaks the 10in screen barrier, while still managing to remain thin and light. The 1GB RAM limit is disappointing and some will scoff at a 12in notebook being dubbed a netbook, but the Mini 12 is reasonably priced and should appeal to plenty of users”
“Pros: Large display, light and thin, good build quality, well-designed keyboard , Cons: A little large for a netbook, poor battery life, mediocre speakers, 1GB RAM limit”
– Good Gear Guide
“Dell’s latest netbook blurs the line between these pint-sized portable PCs and their larger, more conventional cousins. The Inspiron Mini 12 has most of what we like about netbooks: a modest price tag, light weight (1.2 kilograms) and most noticeably, a slim sylph-like profile … it’s like getting a MacBook Air at a quarter of the price
We rated the battery life at three hours while using a wireless internet connection, a figure likely to disappoint road warriors although it’ll be enough for the average user as long as they travel with the tiny power pack and don’t stray too far from a 240V socket.”
– Sydney Morning Herald