Five Weeks with a Dell Mini 9
After seeing how well OS X ran on the Dell Mini 9 and how easy it was to install, I decided to buy one. I ended up with 3, but that’s a story for a different day. It costs about a 1/10th of what a MacBook Pro does so it’s an excellent 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) computer. Audio in and out works, WiFi works, external monitors work, it reads SD cards and has 3 USB ports.
I’m not going to discuss the OS X install as that’s been done here, here, here, and here. OS X is well suited to small screen use, I’ve gained a new appreciation for Dashboard, Spaces and Exposé. Safari 4 beta has a few new features that help keep you from typing urls all the way out; such as the new Top Sites view and they way suggestions and recent searches are laid out in the search box. 1password helps to keep from having to type out (or even remember) complex passwords. Shovebox stores notes and grabs webpages for offline viewing, I usually switch long articles to print view and then store them to read on the plane. Dropbox is an easy way to move files back and forth to your “real” computer. Using MobileMe or Google Sync keeps both computers in lock step.
Inspiron Mini 9n (‘n’ is the “Meant to be sold with Linux” variant)
Intel® Atom Processor® N270 (1.6GHz/533Mhz FSB/512K cache)
2GB DDR2 PC6400
16GB Solid State Drive
Glossy 8.9 inch LED display (1024X600)
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
Wireless 802.11g Mini Card
Integrated 1.3M Pixel Webcam
To install OS X you’re going to want the 16GB SSD, I’ve found it works just fine with 1GB. Black and White are the standard colors, others cost a bit more. The webcam is only really of any use in well lit rooms or outdoors. The computer is spec’d abut the same as one of the first White MacBooks. The main limit is the screen size. I’ve been using the Logitech VX Nano, the small receiver and overall size make it easy to keep with the netbook.
Most of you are already using Pandora and Last.fm. For listening to music while an interenet connection is present, I’ve been on the hype machine and thesixtyone lately. Both excellent sites with tons of new music.
While Hulu and other streaming sites will work, I find I mostly watch video off of a SD card, USB drive or plugged in iPod; and then mostly on airplanes or airports where I don’t have a decent internet connection.
I’ve used the MacBook Mini for the past few weeks as a travel computer, it saves on space, it fits on an airplane tray, it’s easy to grab and hop onto your flight as there’s nothing bigger than a paperback book to snap shut and run. I’d like to see Apple make the same thing, but I doubt they could do it for the same $325.
Try it. You’ll like it. If you don’t like it and have to sell it off, you’ll only be out $20 or so.