I ordered a Dell Mini the day after they were announced and available to order. I had been looking for a small laptop for writing and remote work. Under consideration was the Asus models as well as the Acer Aspire One but when arriving at my local Best Buy and none of the models of the Acer were in stock, well I was out of luck.
The Dell Mini was announced the week after my disappointment with Best Buy so I figured I would order one since Dell has a reputation for producing pretty good products for the price.
My Dell Mini Inspiron 910 is configured the following way:
- Inspiron 910 Intel Atom processor N270, 1.6GHz, 533Mhz512K L2 Cache
- Obsidian Black Color with Gloss Finish
- 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
- 32WHr 4-cell Battery
- Bluetooth 2.1 module via USB I/F (Option)
I wanted to get the top-of-the-line features since the price was not much of an increase. The box the Mini comes in a box much smaller than I expected, which was cool. Below is a picture of the Mini next to my 15″ MacBook Pro.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard as with any of these mini notebooks is small but the keyboard here is pretty close to full-size. I have spent half a day typing on it and it seems pretty easy to get used to, the only comment I really have is some of the key are not in the position found on a full-sized laptop or desktop keyboard. The function keys are in the middle of the keyboard and single/double quote key is down to the right of the spacebar. These were the immediate things I noticed, which aren’t necessarily negatives but will take a bit of getting used to. Also, the Caps Lock key is a bit close to the ‘A’, I have hit it a few times by accident.
You can see the keyboard here a bit:
The trackpad is probably the best I have seen on these mini notebooks. I did not like the one on the Acer, this one is much more like what you expect in a Dell laptop.
The screen is 8.9″ and I thought it may be too small but it is a good size given the overall size of the machine. The default (max) resolution is 1024×600 and is a good size, not too small for my older eyes. The text is very readable and looks sharp. The screen is the shiny glass type like on the newer MacBooks, not the matte finish. It is really crisp.
I have to say I hate Dell for installing a bunch of lousy software I only have to uninstall myself. Dell, please listen, give me the option to install the software I want and don’t make me waste time uninstalling please, now, please.
The Mini only has a 16G SSD so Dell had to be careful installing too much junk but I quickly uninstalled McAfee Security Suite, Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Works. I use Google Docs so I have no need for such a pile of…bits. After uninstalling all of the junk software and installing all the software I use on a daily basis the net free space was a little bit better than when I started, so I was cool with it.
This is my first day with this little toy so I can’t say much beyond some first impressions. On the surface I think this will be really good and provide the service I am looking for, which is for some writing while sitting in my living room, the coffee shop, remote office or on a plane. I do have some minimal development tools on it to work on some Ruby code or whatever but nothing like Visual Studio.
I am curious how the battery will last during regular use, it is advertised with 4 hour life but sometimes companies are a bit optimistic. My MacBook Pro gets 3.5 hours on a charge when I am doing some writing and research on the web.
The boot-up time of Windows XP off the SSD is pretty fast and overall disk access seems snappy with the installs and uninstalls I performed.