Here’s an old reviewers’ question for you. Is it fair to judge a product by its default configuration?
I recently called the Dell Inspiron Mini 10’s 3-cell 24WHr battery a deal breaker, and it’s absolutely true. Dell’s netbook gets just over three hours of battery life, which is poor by both small laptop and netbook standards.
But when you’re buying the Mini 10, you can upgrade to a 6-cell battery with more than six hours of life for just $30.
A lot of people, I’d imagine, just buy the default configuration, not wanting to deal with the specs, like the difference between the hard drive and optional SSD drive.
Even with its 10″ x 7″ x 1″ dimensions, weighing only 2.63 pounds in my test, I’d never recommend someone buy the Mini in its default form.
It’s principle. The Mini 10 is an otherwise stellar computer. It’s fast, light, comes in a variety of colors, has an on-board TV tuner with HD antenna and cable adapter, comes with an HDMI port, SD/MS/MMC card reader, 3 USB ports, ethernet and built-in a/g/n WiFi. Even the display puts it over the top. The Mini 10 standard (as opposed to the V edition) comes with a 720p HD display. The keyboard is small, like on all netbooks, but it’s more comfortable than the Asus Eee PC that won the day in my Globe story.
At $349, the Inspiron 10 is a good value with this anchor called a 3-cell battery holding it down.
Dell should drop the 3-cell battery, make the 6-cell the default and only battery option, and charge $379 for the product. That would still make it cheaper than most of the Asus, HP and Lenovo competitors, and other reviews back up the fact that the Dell is right behind these laptops.
Dell’s idea with the Mini appears to have been to give users more regular “computer” features. The HDMI port is a great touch, and even the digital TV was appreciated. It’s pre-configured, and the software actually works. the Dell TV software fires up, scans the signal for channels, and works quickly and easily — and that’s from Dell. Years ago, if you bought a Dell, you could easily spend an hour or two deleting all their bloated support and utility software.
So let’s do this:
If Dell throws in the 6-cell battery and throws out the 3-cell without jacking the price too much, then I believe it’s a winner. Good screen, good keyboard, Atom processor, television, HD video — all great features, but something has to power it all.