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My New Friend

Here is a deal I couldn’t resist. I know, I’m weak when it comes to computers.

Netbooks are the hot new gadget started by ASUS with their Eee PC and now Dell, HP and others have jumped on board. Netbooks are not really new, but they are finally powerful enough and priced to sell. The average Netbook runs around $300 to $400, but I picked up a basic Dell Mini 9 for $189! Regular price is $249, but I hit a sale along with a discount and free shipping.

Here is the Inspiron Mini 9 next to my Inspiron 1525 for size comparison. The 1525 is a standard 15.4 inch notebook.
I’ll paste the full specs of the Mini 9 below.

I’ve just started playing with my new friend. The netbook only weighs about 2 lbs. and has a nice shiny black finish. It does come in other colors, but for this deal, a different color would have cost more and I was determined to keep the cost under $200. The netbook feels solid and well-made.

I haven’t used Linux much, so I’m excited to learn my way around the operating system. The initial setup was easy. Of course all the software and drivers are already installed by Dell. The first thing I noticed is how fast the machine boots (in less than 1 minute). This version of Linux is intuitive and windows-like, so no problem finding my way around so far. It also comes with many useful Linux programs and really no crapware that often comes with new computers. Nice!

An upgrade I did consider was to increase the memory from 512MB to 1GM, but after using Linux for a little while, it seems to run just fine on 512MG. It’s responsive and peppy. Another upgrade I considered was the hard drive. The netbook comes with a 4GB solid state drive (kind of like a cameras flash memory, so no moving parts). Again, this is fine for surfing the web, but I considered upgrading so that I would have some storage space for photos when I go on vacation. On my last vacation I took about 5GB of photos. The netbook also comes with a build-in card reader, but my Canon Rebel uses a CF card which can’t be read on the card reader. So, I’ll probably still bring my full-sized laptop on vacations.

It already has Firefox installed, which is my favorite browser, so when I’m on-line, I’d never even know I was using a Linux machine. And since the main job of a netbook is to surf the internet, there is really no reason to pay extra for Windows. From what I’ve read, installing new programs on Linux is not as easy as Windows, but so far I haven’t needed anything that didn’t already come pre-installed.

When connecting to my wireless network, I noticed that the Mini picked up dozens of other area networks, many more than my regular laptop and a nice strong signal. So, I assume it has a pretty good built-in antenna.

The sound is decent for such a small machine. It has two good size speakers just below the monitor. The sound is actually better than my full-sized Inspiron. It also has a built-in headphone and microphone jack.

The monitor is only 9 inches, but bigger than some other netbooks and it is sharp and bright.

This is a neat little tool for email, surfing the web and maybe some basic word processing. It runs Ubuntu very well with just 512MB RAM. It has a very small solid-state hard drive, so very little storage space, but storage is not really the purpose of a netbook. So far, I’m very please with the Mini 9. A super netbook for the price. I don’t think I’d be willing to spend more on a netbook.

Full Specs:

— Inspiron Mini 9n —
— Intel® Atom Processor® N270 (1.6GHz/533Mhz FSB/512K cache)
— 512MB DDR2 at 533MHz
— LCD Panel —
— Glossy 8.9 inch LED display (1024X600)
— Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
— Hard Drive —
— 4GB Solid State Drive
— Ubuntu Linux version 8.04.1
— Sound —
— Base LCD Assembly
— Wireless —
— Wireless 802.11g Mini Card
— Camera Module —
— No Camera Option
— Battery —
— 32WHr Battery (4 cell)