48 hours with a Dell Mini 9 netbook (the keyboard and battery)

48 hours with a Dell Mini 9 netbook (the keyboard and battery)

Summary: I'm on day two of my little netbook experiment and I'm still in that honeymoon phase and everything's pretty peachy. The diminutive netbook has been the perfect sidekick for my travels around south Florida and has been serving my needs quite well.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Dell, Hardware
52

I'm on day two of my little netbook experiment and I'm still in that honeymoon phase and everything's pretty peachy. The diminutive netbook has been the perfect sidekick for my travels around south Florida and has been serving my needs quite well.

There are two nits that are starting to get a little annoying however. The first is Windows XP. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Machead and have been since 1984, so my Windows skills are somewhat lacking. Let's chalk that one up to user error. If you're a Windows nut, you'll be right at home with the Mini 9, Penguin heads will opt for the Ubuntu option and save themselves $65. The Windows thing doesn't bother me much though as I'm wiping the drive and installing OS X on it as soon as I step off the plane at Atlantic City International airport.

The second nit I have is with the Mini 9's keyboard. It's full of compromises.

As I previously noted, the the main A-Z letter keys on the Mini 9 are full-size, full-width keys but the period, comma and number keys (and some others) are about two-thirds the width of a regular key. This in and of itself isn't a problem because I can find the smaller keys pretty easily with a little training. My problem is with the keys that Dell moved to completely different locations.

Case in point are the apostrophe and dash keys which have new homes. The apostrophe key moved from its usual home two keys to the right of the "L" key to the bottom row, two keys right of the space bar. Ugh. While it's murder for Irish folks with last names like "O'Grady" its a pain any time you have to type a contraction like "it's," "he's" or "they'll." Get used to typing a carriage return in place of the apostrophe.

The other problem is the dash/underscore key which is normally located to the right of the zero on the number row. Dell saw fit to move the dash key one row down, to the right of the P key.This wreaks all kinds of havoc for touch typists, especially those that are dyed-in-the-wool in this or that. Oy vay as Morgenstern would say.

Some quick notes on the Mini 9's 4-Cell Lithium-Ion battery:

  • Battery life is a solid 3+ hours, which is impressive. I'm pretty sure that I can hit 4+ hours with a little optimization. I've been using the stock XP Home power settings and relatively happy so far.
  • Re-charging from dead/forced hibernation is around 3 hours which could be better, but all-in-all not terrible.
  • Extra batteries cost $100 from Dell (PN 312-0831) which is a little spendy but not excessive.
  • The battery in my Mini 9 is labeled 32 watt hour but the serial number starts with "KR" which, according to this blog post, is an inferior 3-Cell 24 wH model. (Update: this post debunks the 3-cell myth, which was apparently based on erroneous battery software.)

More soon...

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Topics: Mobility, Dell, Hardware

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52 comments
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  • How will you install OS X on it

    is that not.... illegal?

    (You had better hope Apple's lawyers do not read your blog)
    GuidingLight
    • illegal?

      there is a difference between illegal and a violation of agreement.
      lostarchitect
      • OK, how about "actionable?" NT

        NT
        brble
      • Go ask Phystar.

        I wonder if Jason's comments above will be seen as a tech blogger's equivalent to Michael Phelps' on-camera bong hit.

        When I buy a piece of software I do so agreeing to its EULA. If I don't agree, I don't buy it. If I violate that EULA I am potentially liable in court of a number of actions including theft and fraud.

        I'd hope that the same rules are applied to prominent tech bloggers.
        de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
      • Let's not split hairs, here

        illegal and a violation of agreement, what does it matter? In the end you'll be in court, it'll cost you alot of money, and of course some kind of penance.
        John Zern
      • yes, illegal...

        yes, illegal is the right word to use. It doesn't mean just breaking some
        type of law set by the government. If it did anyone who made like an
        illegal move playing a game of chess... or when Windows performs and
        "illegal operation" would be in serious trouble. Look up the definition of
        the word illegal and try again.
        doh123
        • Actually...

          ...the word you are looking for is unlawful. It is semantic, but something illegal is written in statutory law, and something unlawful is just not expressly authorised by a third party. This is muddy in the US though with the DCMA.
          SimonUK
        • you're being pedantic.

          context is as important as definition, you know.
          lostarchitect
          • Semantic, not pedantic.

            As I said the DMCA has muddied the waters slightly*, however I'd argue that in breaching an EULA a criminal offence hasn't taken place, therefore in this context he has acted unlawfully.

            *Having read an overview of the DMCA, I understand it is indeed [i]illegal[/i] to breach an EULA in the USA. However, it remains [i]unlawful[/i] to do it in Europe.
            SimonUK
      • re: illegal?

        "there is a difference between illegal and a violation of agreement."

        That depends. If a Machead installs a legitimate copy of OS X (which came with his MBP) on non-Apple equipment, it's okay. If a non-Machead installs a retail "upgrade" version of OS X on non-Apple equipment, it's a capital crime, punishable by death, with no appeal.
        M.R. Kennedy
        • thanks for that clarification! ;) (n/m)

          .
          lostarchitect
  • Shift Key

    I have an ASUS Eee PC, and the right shift key looks to be in the same place as your Dell. That's the biggest problem for me - trying to hit that shift key instead of the up arrow.
    brble
    • RE: 48 hours with a Dell Mini 9 netbook (the keyboard and battery)

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  • Jason 'The Thief' O'Grady is at it again!

    "The Windows thing doesn?t bother me much though as I?m wiping the drive and installing OS X on it as soon as I step off the plane at Atlantic City International airport."

    Guess he would steal MP3, Movies and any other software he feels like 'because he can'.

    What a criminal! I hope Apple goes after him!
    No More Microsoft Software Ever!
  • There you have it: MBA not worth it?

    Even with the MacBook Air out there running OSX, he would still rather bootleg OSX onto a Dell.

    Is this a proclamation against the MBA that its not worth money?
    John Zern
    • ??????

      to some people I'm sure it is worth the money, but its not a netbook, and
      doesn't try to compete with netbooks... so I dont see the point in the
      question.
      doh123
      • I don't know...

        but from what I've heard from some Mac enthusiasts, they claim that netbooks are here [i]because[/i] of the MacBook Air, it being so small, light, and now "copied".
        John Zern
        • Probably mostly coincidence.

          The EEE (started the craze) was already developed when the air was released. I don't honestly think anyone could have confused the air with the EEE. Now, maybe Asus saw that no CD player was viable based on the air not having one and adapted, but the concepts were completely different. They still are in my opinion.

          TripleII
          TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
    • I do not think you know what that means.

      Bootleg
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootleg
      [B]Bootleg or bootlegging usually refers to making, transporting and/or selling illegal alcoholic liquor or copyrighted material;[/B]

      He is making no copies, transporting said illegal copies and is not selling it (if he did want to sell his legal copy, that would be legal, so long as uninstalled off his computer).

      So, I have to say, facts not in evidence, your statement is invalid.

      TripleII

      P.S. The title from the movie Princess Bride. :D
      TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
      • Oh, please, you know darn well what I mean

        It's was a simple [b][i]expression[/i][/b] so as to not have to type more then a sentence or two, but you knew that.

        So knowing that, your statement is invalid as well.

        Checkmate.
        John Zern