Due to the fact that most netbooks usually sport similar or identical hardware specifications, its design usually plays a major part in determining a consumer’s likelihood of purchasing such a device. With that in mind, we take a look at the Dell Mini 1018’s design to see if it has what it takes to appeal to most consumers.
Glossy is the new mainstream
In terms of looks, the Mini 1018 bares a striking resemblance to the older Mini 1012, although there are a few cosmetic changes between both models. The Mini 1018, in particular, has a certain unique ‘wedge’ design in which the netbook’s hinges are placed slightly nearer to the user as opposed to being situated at the very back of the chassis. This results in the Mini 1018’s rear jutting out slightly, as shown in the images above and below.
It is also worth nothing that in addition to making the Dell Mini 1018 look unique, the design has the added advantage of granting the Mini 1018 greater degrees of stability. Because the hinges are now mounted on the base plate instead of the back of the chassis, it is also extremely resistant to flexing. In fact, it is so stable that even a jerky ride on the MRT did not cause any viewing discomfort for us.
Also unique to the Mini 1018 is its variety of colours, of the lack thereof. While previous Minis usually had a wide selection of hues to choose from, Dell has chosen to give the 1018 a very simple colour scheme. Simply put, this means that you can get your Dell Mini 1018 in any colour you want, as long as it is glossy black. Extra colours will set you back by S$20.33, as shown in Dell’s online store.
As space is always a premium for portable
devices, the Mini 1018, like most of the competition, comes furnished
with a minimal number of expansion ports needed to maintain productivity
in the most common usage scenarios.
The left side of the Mini 1018 houses three expansion ports. There is the standard VGA-out socket on the extreme left, while a single USB 2.0 port is located right next to it. At the extreme right corner is a 3-in-1 flash memory card reader which Dell claims is capable of supporting SD/SDHC, MMC and MS/MS Pro cards.
The Dell Mini 1018’s right side is just as spartan. Located here are three expansion ports: a headphone jack, a second USB 2.0 port and an Ethernet port.
While the number of expansion ports present on the Dell Mini 1018 are enough for most users under common usage scenarios, we cannot help but feel that Dell could have provided users with a little more. This is due to the fact that the sides of the Dell Mini 1018 are completely bare of any heat vents. This frees up a lot of additional space which could have been greater utilized by the addition of more USB 2.0 ports, or even a HDMI-out port.
For those who are wondering where the DC-in socket is, it can be found at the back side of the Mini 1018, as shown below.
Also present at the Mini 1018’s back is the obligatory Kensington security lock slot, which is situated at the extreme left end.
Unlike most netbooks, the Dell Mini 1018’s rear is machined out of a single piece of plastic. This results in both a seamless and clean look with minimal distractions. Also present here are two heat vents and an additional vent at the bottom for the speakers.
However, the nature of the Dell Mini 1018’s design also comes with one downside: the loss of end-user upgradability. As the Mini 1018’s rear is completely free of any compartments or covers which offer quick access to the system’s hardware, disassembling the netbook is a time consuming process which requires some degree of caution and expertise.
Gaining access to the Mini 1018’s hardware requires that one extract the keyboard (three screws must be removed for the netbook’s rear), which is connected to the netbook’s motherboard by a thin ribbon cable as shown below.
Extracting both the keyboard and the ribbon cable reveals the Dell Mini 1018’s hard disk, which appears to be the only user-replaceable part in the Mini 1018.
Our Mini 1018 came with a Hitachi TravelStar HDD with a rotational speed of 5400rpm. This is a fairly standard-performance hard disk found in the majority of mobile computers in the market today.
CPU-Z highlighted the presence of a single SO-DIMM slot. However, due to the notebook’s highly-integrated design, the only way we were going to gain access to the Mini 1018’s RAM was to disassemble the entire base plate, which included taking out the display as well. Suffice to say, the Mini 1018 is not designed for end-user upgradability, so you are pretty much stuck with the stock configuration Dell offers.