Dell Inspiron Mini 12 - Intel Atom Processor Netbook Review

Author: Nicolas Setiono

If compared with other netbook such as MSI Wind U100, for example, Dell Inspiron mini 12 really looks thin. The thick is less than 1 inch, precisely 0.9 inches. In fact, the size of screen and all of the body is about 2 inches more wide than Wind U100.

Yes, Dell Inspiron mini 12 showcase is 12-inch display screen, which is still rare compared with others netbook carried by other brands.

Despite similar body-thin like Apple MacBook Air, Dell Inspiron Mini 12 does feel strong. It feels comfortable. Indeed, Dell Inspiron Mini 12 have more wider size in average compared with others netbook and can causing not being easily inserted in the handbag.

From the completeness of the features, in fact mini-12 not far differents from others netbook by other brands. Like a modern netbook, 802.11g wireless functionality is supported, 12 inch display screen. RAM, for example, are still 1GB, but unfortunately you can not upgrading the RAM.

Display Screen

12-inch display screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, of course, is the specialty of Dell Dell Inspiron Mini 12. Wide screen resolution make the use of the netbook more fun when you surf in the virtual world. Two web pages side by side can be opened and read it with quite comfortably. However, the letters look smaller, less suitable for those who have started to crash because of the vision on the old age.

Views on the screen looks very bright (too bright even on the maximum setting), and horizontal perspectives are good enough. Views can still see quite comfortable with the direction of the side. However, there are good idea to push back the screen so that the rebound effect is not felt, too.

At the top of the LCD screen, as usual, presented with a 1.3 megapixel Webcam.


With a more physical width compared with another netbook, not strange when the keyboard on mini 12 is also more relieved (92 percent of normal keyboard). The distance the button are wide so that makes you comfortable when typing.

Dell includes six function keys which is F11, F12, Home, Del, Insert, End which are placed on the top right side. In addition, there are 10 other function keys (F1 - F10), which also have their own features, such as Bluetooth and contrast. The Fn button is placed on the left side of the bottom..

Under the keyboard panel there are square touchpad which is also quite wide field, complete with left and right click. Touchpad is quite responsive. However, perhaps because of the wide size and the location that fit under the keyboard plus the wide of palmrest, sometimes we do not get the desired response from the touchpad which have quite fibrous surface because the cursor can move suddenly if you have small wrist.

The other different from the other vendors, Dell chose to put a speaker on the top of keyboard panel. Unfortunately, the quality of the sound is less strong despite already set up to maximum volume. However, for a netbook that is used personally and private, may have sufficient volume.

Another panel at a different location is the on / off. key When most vendors of netbook putting it on the right top side, not so with Dell. Dell prefer to put this very small on / off button on the left top side, abreast with speakers panel.

The Body

On the right side appears 3-in-1 card reader, a headphone jack, microphone jack, one USB port, and one LAN port.

The placement of the USB port are on the way back, this make less fun when you use the netbook on the knees (although this is usually not recommended because the netbook radiate enough heat) than if it is on the way forward as in most of other netbook.

On the left side there are two USB ports, VGA-out port, and for security lock (Kensington lock). Two USB ports are located in the middle of the unit, with the initial keyboard.

When you use the netbook the back of the bottom display which is close to the battery felt a bit hot. However, the keyboard and the touchpad are not affected and still comfortable to use. The bottom of the netbook was only slightly warm. Maybe because of the wide surface from this netbook plus the combination of low power processors successfully influence the spread of heat.


Mini 12 is not using the processor Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz like the others.

This netbook packaged with the Intel Atom 1.6 GHz clock speed, but in different type, that is, the Z530 (Silverthorne). This processor is designed for the smaller size devices depend with N270, the size of Silverthorne CPU nearly half (13 x 14 mm) and charged a lower consumption (2 watts vs. 2.5 watt owned N270).

Processor is a bit saggy used with Microsoft Vista as the bundle from Dell. Booting takes 1.5 - 2 seconds. The Intel GMA 500 chipset seems less suitable for gaming, including lightweight games. From the benchmark result of 3DMark 2003, the score is only 382 and failed to run 3DMark06.

The Battery

Mini 12 comes with a standard battery pack of Li-Ion 3-cell. Not included in the battery the capacity rating. However, according to Dell, the battery is able to stand up to 3 hours of use.

The claims may be true, but there are conditions that must be fulfilled. Netbook must be set first to lower the performance. This can be done easily arranged through the property of the Windows Power Options (Current Power Plan). If you want to survive your battery, you need to lower the performance by choosing Power Saver mode. However, if you need the performance you can choose High Performance that will drain the battery power more quickly or you can choose Balanced mode to balance the power of the battery and the performance.

Despite come with 12 inches wide-screen, this Mini 12 was not heavy. By default (plus 3-cell battery), the weight is only 1.268 kg. When the battery removed, the weight will be 1.1 kg.

Dell appears mature enough to prepare this netbook so comfortable and convenient to carry anywhere. For other than mild, the adapter that integrates with the cable was also light and pretty. This adapter looks similar to the phone adapter although quite large. Unfortunately only two legs, so you have to bring converter if you don't have 2 legs.

The weight of the adapter are 178 grams. If you take all, (netbook + 3-cell battery + adapter + converter), Dell Inspiron Mini 12 was still light enough with a total weight of 1.862 kg.

The advantages Dell Inspire Mini 12 is Wide screen and keyboard; thin physical; SIMcard slot; light

The disadvantages Dell Inspire Mini 12 is Mono speaker; price; SIMcard slot on the back of the battery; minimal LED indicators; RAM can not be upgraded.

Dell Inspiron Mini 12 Specification

  • Processor: Intel Atom Z5301, 6GHz (Level 2 cache 512KB, 533MHz FSB and support Hyperthreading)
  • RAM: DDR2 1GB SODIMM (maximum)
  • Chipset: Intel Poulsbo
  • Graphics card: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 500
  • Sound: Poulsbo Intel High Definition Audio Controller
  • Harddisk: Samsung 1.8 "HS092HB jubilee ATA-100 3600rpm 80GB
  • Optical drive: No
  • Facilities: LAN, Wi-Fi 802.11 g, Bluetooth, 3-in1 card reader, 3 USB Port, 1.3 MP Web Camera, VGA port, 10/100 Ethernet port, michropone jack, headphone jack
  • Display: 12.1 "WXGA 1280x800 pixels
  • Operating System: Windows Vista Basic SP1
  • Battery: Li-Ion 3-cell 26WHr
  • Dimensions: 29.9 x 22.9 x (2,2-2,4) cm
  • Weight : (including 3-cell battery): 1, 268 kg
  • Warranty: 1 year (batteries, spare parts, freight)

This Dell Inspiron Price Range is USD$ 699

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