Netbooks are low power, low resource, small notebooks that are great for people on the go. Because there aren’t many resources available it makes sense for them to use software that does not require a lot of resources. The Dell Mini 9 offers the option to run Ubuntu Linux as the operating system and were going to see if it is a good fit.
- Intel Atom Processor N270
- Ubuntu Linux version 8.04.1
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
- 4GB Solid State Drive
As with all the first generation Netbooks the Dell Mini uses the Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz processor. While this processor is very light weight and is not setup for heavy processing. This processor is great for small devices like this because it uses very little power.
Because of how light weight the processor is, having an OS that is not resource intensive is also very important. Linux is well known for running on hardware that would not support other operating systems. Ubuntu is one of the more popular versions of Linux and a good choice for the average user.
The Intel Graphics 950 chip is not very powerful, but it is very efficient and it does not use a lot of power. For a machine like this, efficiency is more important than processing power.
With the size of files today a 4GB drive is really small. A drive this size is really only going to be good for documents and presentations, anything more than that would need to be stored on an external hard drive.
When it comes to Netbooks, size is a very important factor, but so is usability. In order to get both the Netbook must make good use of all its available space. For the most part the Dell Mini 9 does just that.
The left side of the Mini has an SD slot, 2 USB ports, the power plug and a lock.
The right side has a headphone, and microphone jack, USB, VGA, and Ethernet port.
The bottom has a compartment which has the memory and other cards, and the battery.
Opening the lid reveals the screen and keyboard. On a Netbook this size the keyboard has to be really small; however, if the keys are too small then it is impossible to use. Fortunately, the letter keys are left mostly full size, it is the other keys that are made really small. I think this is a good decision, because the keys that are used the most are the easiest to get to. However, there are a couple keys are are placed in odd places. For example, check out where the right shift key is, if you cannot find it try looking to the right of the up arrow. Also, look how small the Tab and Caps Lock keys are, it is very difficult to get those right without looking at your hands.
Above the keyboard on the left side is a single button that is used for turning the Netbook on and off. You will notice a large empty space above the keyboard and to the right of the power button. At first I thought this was just a lot of wasted space; however, it is actually the top of the battery. I have never seen a battery on a laptop that actually stuck out of the top.
Below the keyboard is the touchpad. This touchpad is also designed correctly with the buttons below the touchpad and the touchpad its self nice and big and very responsive.
The screen is 8.9″ from corner to corner and right below the screen are two speakers. There is definitly room around the edges of the screen so that dell could make it a bit larger.
The desktop is very clean and not cluttered with a lot of junk. The menu is all icon driven and the icons are very big and easy to click, which is great because of how small the screen it. As you hover over each icon another set of icons appears to show which programs you can run.
So now we are on to performance testing. Unfortunately, because this is running Linux I cannot use the same benchmark software that I usually use. So I had to go and download new software, the benchmark software that I chose to use is the Phoronix Test Suite.
The test suite is made up of lots of different tests. I could not run them all because of the limited space on the hard drive, so I choose a few to try out. The first test is the audio encoding and you can see my results here. The second test was multicore. The last test was ramspeed. However, just looking at these numbers does not do any good, so you can compare other peoples results. The tests turned out ok for a machine this small, but as you can see, the other machines easily beat it in every test.
The rest of the computer worked great. The screen is very high quality. Except for how glossy and reflective it is I could not find anything to complain about.
The keyboard is very solid and very responsive. Except for it being really small and difficult to use there is nothing else wrong with it. It responded to all my button presses and the keys felt strong and were very quiet.
The touchpad is very sensitive. It does not take much to get the mouse to move. On more than one occasion I overshot my target because of how sensitive it is. I am sure there is a way to turn down the sensitivity so I am not worried.
Warranty and Support
The warranty that comes with the Dell Mini 9 by default is a simple 1Yr Ltd Warranty and Mail-In Service. If you want more you are going to have to pay for it. To upgrade to a 3 year warranty it will cost you $79, which is actually a decent price. If you read my review of the HP Mini 1000 you know that HP charges $179.99 if you want a 3 year warranty.
I enjoyed my time with the Dell Mini 9, but in the end this is not a machine for me. The main factor in me not liking it is how small it is. For a device this small the manufacturer should ditch the keyboard and make it into a tablet. A tablet this size can have an onscreen keyboard that you can use with your thumbs, like the iPhone. Using this keyboard long term will probably result in some major hand cramping. The only other really big annoying thing is the big VGA port. This is really old fashoned and it needs to be removed. HP managed to replace the VGA port with a nice small video out that works great, Dell needs to do the same. Everything else about the machine is good and I don’t have any other negatives. If you are a die hard Dell fan and you love the idea of typing on a really small keyboard and looking at a really small screen then you and the Dell Mini 9 will get along just fine.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|