About a month ago, I ordered a netbook from Dell for work. I have two admin needs for a Windows machine – to manage our new Watchguard firewall and to make changes to our voicemail system. I’ve run Windows XP on my Mac Book Pro using VMware, but the Watchguard in particular didn’t seem to like the network sharing that occurs between the Mac and XP sides. I figured that for a grand total of $388 (including tax and shipping), the Mini 9 was worth a try.
My initial impressions were mostly positive. It took me the better part of a day to install all of the usual anti-spam, anti-virus and anti-spyware tools that Windows requires, along with the multiple security updates from Microsoft. After a quick download and install of Firefox, Flash and iTunes, the machine was pretty much ready to go. Wireless worked fine right away and all of the sites I use on a regular basis performed and displayed just as I expected.
Here are the specs:
- Intel Atom Processor N270 (1.6GHz/533Mhz FSB/512K cache)
- 1GB DDR2 at 533MHz
- Glossy 8.9 inch LED display (1024X600)
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
- 16GB Solid State Drive
- Genuine Windows XP Home Edition
- Wireless 802.11g Mini Card
- Integrated 0.3M Pixel Webcam
- 32WHr Battery (4 cell)
- 1Yr Ltd Warranty and Mail-In Service
I also decided to order a 16GB SDHC memory card for $34 from Amazon to double the storage space.
So it is what it is – not a powerhouse by any means, but good enough for simple browsing and email. It’s got a dirt cheap price and is very portable, although a little thicker and heavier than I expected – nothing like the Sony netbook (that costs three times as much). The battery capacity isn’t great and will drain completely if you don’t use it for a few days.
I probably would have recommended it after a week for people looking for cheap and small, but after using it regularly for a few weeks, I find that I really don’t want to use it unless I absolutely have to. After carrying it in my backpack with the 17-inch Mac Book Pro, it now sits in the server room next to the Watchguard.
Typing on the keyboard is just painful – almost as bad for me as my iPhone. Start-up speed from sleep is glacial and I forgot just how bad it is having to constantly update and monitor all of the Windows anti-everything utilities. After not using it for a week, it took almost an hour to download and install security and anti-virus updates alone. The quality of the screen is fine, but the whole unit just feels small, cramped and not terribly well built.
All in all, I’ll stick with my big laptop for “real” work and plan on my next iPhone to get more power and speed for those small and cheap needs.Originally published by DK on April 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm