Dell Inspiron Mini 12 Netbook: Pretty but Underperforming

When I first heard about the Dell Inspiron Mini 12, I thought that it was a rather different take on the netbook market. The first Asus Eee PC was a little seven-inch number and more recent offerings have bumped this up to the 10-inch range, but the Mini 12 has got to be the largest netbook out there with a notebook-sized 12-inch display.

You can still categorize the Dell Inspiron Mini 12 only because it comes powered by the Intel Atom processor, but if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that the Mini 12 was just like all of its larger Inspiron cousins. It also helps that Dell has infused the Mini 12 with a MacBook Air-like elegance and sleekness. Unfortunately, the performance leads much to be desired.

Laptop Magazine had the opportunity to take the Inspiron Mini 12 out for a test drive and they found that it was quite the looker, measuring less than an inch thick and weighing just three pounds with the six-cell battery. The performance is quite sluggish, however, because the Mini 12 runs Windows Vista Home Basic, as well as a pre-installed antivirus, on just one gigabyte of RAM. What was Dell thinking? To make matters worse, that one gig is not upgradeable.

It took a full two minutes for the Mini 12 to get to the Vista desktop and over four minutes “before all the preinstalled programs, including the Dell Dock, loaded.” If you do get the Mini 12, you’ll want to make some massive tweaks to try and pull a little more pep out of this netbook.

This just goes to show that Vista and Atom just don’t mix, especially when you only have one gig of RAM to run the show. On the bright side, the keyboard is great, the touchpad is roomy, and the 1280 x 800 glossy screen is vivid.


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