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Dell netbook updated with Pineview CPU

Dec 21, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 27 views

Dell announced an updated version of its Ubuntu-ready Inspiron Mini 10 netbook, using Intel's new Atom N450 processor and an optional Broadcom “Crystal HD” media accelerator. The Mini 10 now sports a redesigned keyboard, optional HD video support, and up to 9.5 hours of battery life, says the company.

Announced in February, the Dell Mini 10 appears to be the one of the more popular netbooks on the market, along with the similar, scaled down Mini 10v. The Dell Mini models are also some of the few netbooks from mainstream PC vendors that currently offer Linux (Ubuntu) as a pre-installed option.

Dell Mini 10, 2010 edition

Still providing a 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600 display, the Mini 10 now features a redesigned keyboard with sculpted keys and "a textured, smudge-resistant palm rest," according to Dell. However, the key changes have occurred under the hood. The Mini 10 is one of several new netbooks that feature the N450, one of three "Pineview" Atom models announced today.

The N450 is heir to the Atom N270, which is found on most netbooks. The earlier Mini 10, however, instead ran on the original Atom models, the Z520 (1.33GHz) or Z530 (1.6GHz). Although clocked about the same as the Z530 at 1.66GHz, the N450 saves on space and power consumption by incorporating a memory controller and graphics core, the GMA 3150. As a result, it does not require a separate northbridge and southbridge, but needs only an accompanying NM10 I/O controller.

According to Intel, the integrated graphics processing results in 20 percent lower overall power consumption, and a 60 percent smaller chipset footprint. In the case of the Mini 10 that means a claimed maximum of 9.5 hours of battery life, with an optional six-cell battery. Dell did not mention whether the space savings resulted in any change in dimensions, but the netbook has not lost much weight, moving from 2.86 pounds down to 2.75 pounds.

Color choices available with the new Mini 10

While the N450 doesn't require any accompanying graphics chips, that doesn't mean manufacturers won't add them to further differentiate their netbooks. Dell is offering an option that includes the newly announced Broadcom Crystal HD (BCM70015) media accelerator. This single-chip video processor is said by Broadcom to provide HD and SD video playback of standard codecs (H.264/AVC, MPEG-2, VC-1, WMV9, MPEG-4, DivX, Xvid and AVS) "with no frame drops or jitter, even under a heavy CPU load."

The Crystal HD option appears to be tied to a series of HD entertainment bundles that include options like an HD-ready (1366 x 768) display, surround sound capability, and a built-in HDTV tuner for over-the-air local HD broadcasts. Other options include Bluetooth, mobile 3G broadband, as well as a "built-in WiFi location enabled GPS that provides people with real time information to nearby restaurants, landmarks, maps and entertainment," says Dell.

Side views of the new Mini 10
(Click on either to enlarge)

Like the previous Mini 10, the 2010 version offers 1GB of DDR2 memory at 800MHz, says Dell. Hard drive options have been increased in capacity to either 160GB or 250GB, says the company.

Dell mentions the Mini 10's built-in 802.11 b/g wireless networking, and photos (above) suggest that the device now includes three USB ports, a VGA output, and audio I/O. The previous version's HDMI port does not appear to be present, however. The previous version also featured a 1.3-megapixel webcam, an SD/SDHC/MMC/MS card reader, and dual PCI Mini card slots, all of which have been carried over, we'd guess.

Stated Brian Pitstick, GM of Dell's mobile products, "With an even better look and great battery life, we think Mini 10 is the perfect companion PC for anyone who wants to be entertained and connected wherever they go."


The Dell Inspiron Mini 10 is expected to be available in early January from Dell, with prices starting at $300. Select configurations will be available in retail outlets worldwide in the coming weeks.

The Ubuntu Linux option will also be introduced in the "coming weeks," so initially, it appears that the netbook will ship only with Windows 7 Starter or Windows XP Home. The HD related bundles, meanwhile, will be available in the first quarter of 2010.

More information may eventually be found at Dell, here.

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