"Fast and versatile - but could use a little more juice"4.0 starson by reciprocityjones
Pros: - Perfect size - exactly the size of a 200 page hardcover
- Great options. Mine has bluetooth USB, 16 GB SSD, XP and 1GB RAM. Handles movies and anything short of Photoshopping.
- Little crapware, lots of ports, and Screen is clear and bright.
Cons: - Some crapware (Google desktop, McAfee, Dell's Online storage which is fee-based).
- Battery should've been a 5 or 6 cell instead of 4. It died 45 minutes short of a 5hr10min flight. Typically lives for 4 hrs per charge.
Summary: It's my little duece coup. After the addition of a 16GB class 6 SDHC card (which should only be used for files, not applications, system or other software data), I absolutely have a tempest in a tea-kettle. It's as fast for simple processes and applications as the laptop I paid Dell $3300 for in 2003, and it's battery, as noted above, lasts almost long enough to make it through a coast-to-coast flight. (Though I would've upgraded for two more cells for another 30-50 bucks if Dell wised up and offered that.) Make no mistake, the Atom processor and 1GB of RAM will not have you photoshopping hi-rez RAW images or OCR-scanning large PDF files with Acrobat (though most other processes performed with Acrobat are relatively painless). Microsoft Works comes standard with the XP option and has done the job so far. Since Office is not a feasible option for such a limited machine, I would prefer it if Dell gave me option of no MS apps at all so that I could've thrown OpenOffice or some other small footprint suite on instead of tremulously contemplating a Works uninstall.
- Boot-to-surfing time for Windows XP plus Norton Internet Security 2009 was 1:38. That's pretty expletive fast.
- I have not yet received the external DVD-RW that Dell sold me with the unit, so no comment on whether that was a smart move.
- The SDHC card is a real nessesity. The great thing about the SSD drive is that the battery lasts much longer with low-current electron-based memory than with a motor-driven spinning plate. It also, I'm told, can take quite an impact, though I do not have any plans to test that theory. The additional SDHC card is both a low-draw second drive for files, as well as a handy substitute for a thumbdrive if you buy a $5 addapter. This is key for uploading fresh music and movies from your other machines without having to deal with more arduous transfer methods between boxes.
- I saw one comment about the glare on the screen. Insofar as that goes, it is true that the Mini 9 has a glossy screen, and not a matte screen, as some laptops do, for minimizing glare. However, a glossy screen is much harder and sturdier than a matte screen would be, which pretty much makes it integral for this type of ultra-portable, on-the-road platform. If I quickly throw this thing in a bag when my flight is announced, I don't want the impact damaging my too-soft screen (I hate discolorations in my display - they just bug me to no end). However, I need to add that, as far as glossy screens go, this is by no means "glare-y" as compared to other laptops I've used. You want to see glare-y, go look at one of the large screen Compaq's from three or four years ago. The Mini 9 does not produce enough reflection from a window or ceiling light behind you to pose any visibility issues. (At least not so far - I've only had it a week.)
- Aesthetically, it is attractive enough to have elicited several comments from people who have seen it. Personally, I like the looks and the line, but I think it could've used a little more spiffing-up. Again, though, I like my computers tough, and I would not choose to sacrifice any aspect of its durability for a marginally jazzier appearance. One's fashion statements should not derive primarily from one's netbook anyway.
- One thing that was not substantial enough to qualify as a "con" but which Dell should consider changing is the Wi-Fi signal standards available on the Mini 9. They only offer 802.11 b/g. I would've preferred b/g/n compatibility so that the computer could take advantage of the improved speed offered by "n" service as that standard becomes more predominant.
- Lastly, I really like the 1.3MP built in webcam. For the added $10 over the 0.3MP model, I don't see how you can't upgrade. Since my model now allows me to participate in high-quality video chatting/conferencing wherever I am, it has now become a total laptop replacement on business or extended trips.
- Like I mentioned earlier, unless you need to photoshop extremely large image files, perform extremely process-hungry tasks like Acrobat OCR scanning or play very graphics intensive games wherever you go, this computer ably performs everything you could need a computer to do on the road or in a coffeeshop. The bluetooth lets you print, scan or integrate with another bluetooth enabled computer wirelessly, the modern ubiquity of WiFi eliminates the need for any connecting cords in most urban areas, and the excellent touchpad eliminates the need to pack a usb or wireless mouse (I didn't buy one when Dell offered, and after using the system, I assure you it would be a waste of money, considering that the whole point of the system is to minimize its footprint in your luggage/backpack). If it wasn't for the pesky need to plug into a wall outlet occasionally, this system would totally self-contained and wire/leash-less.
- For the ladies: my GF assures me that this is the first truly purse-friendly fully-functional computer.