My Dell Mini 9 – a review

using the mini during a session

using the Mini at a conference

A lot of people have stopped me and asked me about the Dell Mini over the last few days.  Ok, fine, maybe I was flaunting it at MLA a little bit and I’ve been going on endlessly about it on Twitter, but it’s completely deserving.

Let me state for the record, I do not have an IT background, I am a slightly more Techie than average person but that’s  it.  The opinions expressed in here are based on my love of the Mini & the hour or so of research I did to find out about solid state hard drives.  I have only had the Mini for 7 days & I reserve the right to change my mind, update or modify my opinion at any time

Why I wanted/needed the Mini:

For the last year I’ve been painfully aware that I needed a new laptop.  Now I have  a desktop, a fine workhorse of a machine with a 19 inch monitor and plenty of hard drive space left.  So I don’t technically need a laptop, but I travel a fair amount and I enjoy working from my sofa or kitchen table or local coffee shop or brewery on occasion.  If I wanted to keep enjoying this option I needed a new laptop.  But I was torn, I didn’t really need a high end one and even the low end ones were expensive & still pretty big.

Mini 09

The Mini & the 17 inch Gateway

Enter the Mini a couple of weeks ago.  I decided with MLA, Internet Librarian, a trip to Malaysia in the works & teaching a class in the Spring, it was now or never & the mini was everything I wanted – small, light & Internet ready.  So I ordered one & never looked back.

The specs on mine:

  • Inspiron 910 Intel Atom processor N270,  1.6GHz, 533Mhz512K L2 Cache
  • 1GB,DDR2,533MHZ,1 DIMM
  • 8.9 inch Wide Screen WSVGA TLLCD
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
  • 16GB Solid State Drive (mini-card Module/PATA)
  • Genuine Windows XP Home Edition
  • Wireless 802.11g Mini Card
  • Integrated 1.3M Pixel Webcam
  • McAfee Security 9.0, 30-day Subscription – uninstalled & installed my software of choice
  • 32WHr 4-cell Battery
  • Microsoft Works 9.0 - worthless using OpenOffice
Mini 07

placement of the apostrophe

Yes I know I could have waited 6 months & got twice as much for half the price, but I don’t need it in 6 months I need it now.
What I love or pros:
  • small
  • light
  • fast
  • easy
  • does everything I need or want
  • attractive, or cute
  • Kensington lock slot & I ordered one right away.  I never really worried to much about locking my other laptops down, but someone would walk by, pick this up with one hand tuck in a pocket or under a jacket & be gone in 30 seconds, so I will be locking it up.  
What I don’t like or cons
  • the placement of the apostrophe – seriously bad choice on Dells part, what the heck were they thinking?
Questions I’ve been asked or FAQ and my attempt to answer them
  • How is the battery? – Good, it could be better, but so could all laptops.  It lasted all day at the MLA conference, we’ll know about IL soon enough.
  • How is the Keyboard? – surprisingly easy to use.  It might be an issue for people with larger hands, but it seemed pretty comparable to the 17 inch Gateway.
  • Why didn’t I get Ubuntu? – At the time it showed it as a “pre-order” option which meant to me it wasn’t available yet, and I wanted mine like yesterday.
  • What does Solid State Hard Drive mean?  - er, well I did a bit of research & here’s what I found – “A solid state drive is designed to act just like a hard drive as far as the user or the computer is concerned (and even looks similar on the outside), but it has no moving parts. SSDs have no spinning platters; instead they are based on flash memory” and “SSDs are faster than hard drives (up to hundreds of times faster), use less power, and weigh less than traditional spinning hard drives. They don’t crash when you drop them, and they don’t make any noise” - http://tech.yahoo.com/blog/null/65761
  • Why didn’t I get something with more hard drive space?  You’re right they are out there.
Mini 10

The Mini & the 19 inch desktop

  1. I dont’ need it.  I have a desktop that’s awesome, a 360 gig portable hard drive, endless flash drives and SD memory cards.  I don’t know what I’d put on here that would use up the 16 gigs of hard drive space I have.  Anything will be migratory, a presentation, a photo whatever.
  2. From my research about SSD vs traditional hard drives, a SSD is faster,  always good and more sturdy, great for something I’ll be carrying in my purse.
I wouldn’t recommend this for any one’s primary computer, but if you want a small, light fast computer to access the Internet, do some basics, it’s great and I highly recommend it.
More info:

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12 comments for “My Dell Mini 9 – a review

  1. cynhudson
    October 9, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Nice review. Since I saw your cute mini at MLA I’m totally hooked on the new netbooks, now I’m just stuck determining which one to buy….

  2. October 9, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Question ask over on FriendFeed

    Does it have an SD card slot?

    my answer – yes it has the 3 in 1 media card reader, plus 3 USB ports & VGA

  3. October 9, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I’ve had my eye on a mini laptop ever since I heard about the Asus Eee, and when I saw Dell was coming out with one, I was sold. Now, if they’ll just sell the red one like in their original specs. . .

  4. October 9, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I have something similar, but without as much software– it’s a Nokia N810 Internet tablet. I got it because I hate the touch pads on laptops and loved the stylus-and-touch-screen option of the N810. Other than that, it has plenty of fun bells and whistles.

    Trouble is, without wireless access, it’s mostly useless. Which, of course, translates to me buying an actual laptop for when I want to see to anything substantial.

  5. October 16, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I am so jealous and so tempted to get one! I would love to be able to carry a laptop in my purse instead of hauling around a laptop case that looks like a bowling ball bag on wheels.

    Am I missing the RAM in the specs? I don’t see it and need enough to run Camtasia…I think 1GIG.

    How many USB ports does your have?

    So tempted…

  6. October 16, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Lori, the RAM is 1 gig. It has 3 usb ports, the vga out, and the Kensington lock. Cheers!

  7. Ken
    October 17, 2008 at 9:13 am

    I heard it doesn’t have a cooling fan. Does the Mini 9 get really hot?

    I just ordered one on Sunday. Does it really take 3 weeks to ship. If it does, its going to be a long wait..

  8. October 17, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Hi Ken, I haven’t noticed it being really hot. The best part about no fan and the solid state hard drive is that it’s really quiet.

    Mine shipped faster than that, I think they give themselves plenty of time just to be on the safe side.

  9. j dizzle
    October 23, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    might want to check out lots of usefull info there from other owners

  10. j dizzle
    October 23, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    that didnt work, the site is mydellmini dot com

  11. April 5, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Hi
    Thanks for the interesting post.
    Since I’m traveling a lot, I’d like to ask you about the Warranty
    Is it valid for over seas?
    Can you put a note on that?

    Thanks,
    Amit

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