People who have been paying attention to my Identica feed of late will know that, in a fit of I-want-one-of-those, I bought a refurbished Dell Mini 10v. The idea behind this piece of technological frippery was that I'd have something to take with me when I really just want to carry a camera. The camera bag's heavy enough as it is without adding the 3-and-a-bit kilos of my Inspiron 640m to the mix. My hope was that it would arrive before I trot off to London for the Bert Stephani workshop on Sunday, and lo and behold it turned up this morning courtesy of UK Mail. All good so far.
I thought I'd do a review of the wee beastie (which hs now been christened "daft-wullie "), not because I think you're actually likely to be all that interested in my opinions, but more because I wanted the chance to get used to the keyboard. Typing something, then, seemed like a good idea. But that said, this isn't really going to be a review, because I just don't have the level of motivation needed to actually conduct one. You'll live, I suspect.
Anyway, here are my findings, summarised for brevity:
- Screen: Lovely, even if it is fantastically small. Every time I switch from the netbook to my laptop or desktop I find myself amazed at the amount of depth there is the the screen. The display's crisp and clear; it's just slightly annoying that it's glossy rather than matte.
- Keyboard: Mixed bag, this. The alphanumeric keys are nicely sized and, after about thirty seconds adjustment, pretty damn easy to type on; certainly fine for email and browsing, possibly for longer, wordier things too (like blog entries, for example). However, the function keys are driving me absolutely flaming nuts. For some reason Dell have seen fit to relegate the actual function keys (F1, F2 and so on) to a secondary position. Want to do Alt+F4 to close a window? You need to hit Fn+Alt+F4. Stupid, but possibly fixable with xmodmap. I'll investigate and report back.
- Battery: 3-cell. Sucks. End.
- Weight: None. I've fastened it to my thigh with a laptop lock to keep the thing from floating away.
- Processing power: Very little. However, it's more than enough to run Chromium, which I've found is a far better netbook browser than Firefox (and I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that you can scratch the "netbook" from that assessment, too). I haven't managed to get it to build and run Launchpad yet, which is a bit of a shame (though as Jorge has pointed out, that's kinda not the point).
- Trackpad: Also drives me batshit-crazy. The integrated buttons mean that if you try to point and click at the same time (a shocking idea) your pointer leaps all over the screen like a flea on a cat's back. Apparently this is solvable by updating the touchpad drivers, though.
- Overall: For what I paid for this (< £170 inc VAT for a machine that should have cost £200+ because it has a 160GB HDD), it's excellent. It's enough for me to be able to dump CF cards onto and for browsing and email and for the most part that's all I need.
One last thing.
When I ordered this machine, I forgot to check the "colour" column in the Dell UK outlet shop. The upshot of which means that I got one looking like this:
However, being that it cost me a damn sight less than it should have, I figured that this wasn't a problem and broke out the gaffer tape: