On a system with so little hard drive space and limited processing capabilities, you would expect the manufacturer to optimise the installation and keep the amount of preinstalled clutter to a minimum. Unfortunately Dell have followed their traditional policy of installing a couple of things that we would prefer to go without, most notably McAfee security centre as well as Google desktop and toolbar.
The Dell Mini also comes with Bluetooth connectivity software preinstalled and combined with the integrated Bluetooth support we were able to quickly connect to the internet via our phone on the move straight out of the box.
With only a 4 cell battery available at the present time, we are not expecting to see amazing numbers but hopefully it can propel the low power components for a respectable length of time.
With a combination of browsing the web, checking email, word processing , talking on MSN, making a Skype video call and looking at pictures via a memory card the battery lasted for a respectable 3 hours and 29 minutes. This was all performed at a reasonable (mid) brightness level for a well lit room. The majority of users will find this unit sufficient except for extremely long journeys with no access to plugs. We would like to see Dell offering the unit with an optional 6 cell battery, even if it protruded from the underside slightly it would in theory add a few hours to the battery life making it a more useful mobile machine.
With the brightness turned down to the absolute minimum you can coax out about 3 hours 45 minutes. At this level it is still useable but would be slightly uncomfortable in well lit environments.
Temperatures and Noise
The Atom N270 only reached 62 degrees Celsius under 100% load and idled at 42 degrees. This is a superb performance considering the fact that the Dell Mini has no fans. Yes it is passively cooled, meaning that the Dell Mini is completely silent, a massive plus point for those of you in noise sensitive environments.
Performance and Use
For the most part the system is able to handle the majority of everyday tasks that we threw at it. The Atom doesnt set the world alight but certainly packs enough punch to handle day to day tasks such as word processing, email and browsing the internet. There is a bit of slow down when loading pages with flash video players at times, with the worse of them locking up the page for a few seconds.
The computer also appears to be slightly sluggish when in a Skype call with numerous other applications open, although it never posed too much of an issue.