Dell Mini 9, comments?

Discussion in 'Mobile Computing' started by Vicinity, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. Vicinity

    Vicinity 2[H]4U

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    I'm looking into the Netbook thing and this looks pretty nice. I need something to write papers at work and this fits the bill. I was going to swap out the HDD and memory for 320 GB Regular HDD and 2 GB DDR2 ram.

    Also, can Dell's bios be accessed? Also can I reformat and install Win7 without voiding warranty?
     
  2. ilkhan

    ilkhan No Title for You!

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    1: dont know how to reinstall dell's ubuntu distribution. No optical, IIRC the distro is on CD.
    2: the "HDD" is on a screwy mini-PCI card, NOT a 1.8" or 2.5" HDD form factor
    3: takes a single DDR2 SO-DIMM. 2GB is fine.

    Might suggest you wait for the mini10. it'll take a standard HDD and have a better GPU.
     
  3. Woofer00

    Woofer00 Limp Gawd

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    Mini 9 has the worst keyboard design. Rock solid keys to type on, but a real pain to make it work for you. F-keys? on the function row. F11 and F12? Dell doesn't think you'll need them. The only thing Dell could have done worse with the layout would have been to place the shift key to the right of the up arrow.
    Two Mini 9 keyboard layouts.

    That said, most of the netbooks have the capability of swapping out SSDs for HDDs without too much of a hassle. Some, like the Aspire One, make it difficult due to a different case layout (the HDD version bulges out a tiny bit more on the bottom to accommodate the added height).
    As for the RAM, the bottleneck of the netbooks isn't really the RAM at all, but the atom processor. I brought my AAO from 1gb to 1.5gb and noticed no real improvement at all. 1gb to 2gb might be more noticable, but I haven't really heard much point in the upgrade, other than the fact that it only really costs about $20-$25 if you get a good deal. Might cool temps a bit since the hdd spins up less often, but it's not the hugest problem in the world.

    I don't know much about Dell's BIOS, but I truly doubt installing a different OS voids any kind of warranty. Any OS can be installed via USB flash drive provided you have a functional backup iso of the installation discs. I used this method to triple boot xp/vista/ubuntu and retain the AAO's backup partition, although now it's all wiped for Vista. Haven't tried Win7 on it yet, although I've heard extremely good things about the netbook optimization.
     
  4. Vicinity

    Vicinity 2[H]4U

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    Thanks for the replies, guys. Maybe I'll look into an Asus Eee instead for a normal HDD and better keyboard.
     
  5. Tbolt

    Tbolt Limp Gawd

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    I just got the hp mini 1120nr, and I am pleased. One thing that really caught my eye is the keyboard. Its not a huge adjustment like some of the other smaller ones.

    I found it really easy to get a nice version of linux on it (xubuntu) but Im still having difficulty getting any windows (namely PE XP). Anyone knows a good solution let me know. I am not buying an external optical drive, because I know it can be done with USB stick( I have actually gotten almost all the way through with the install but when it reboots it tells me a file is missing/corrupt. Any help would be great.
     
  6. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    From what I've seen, the Samsung NC10 is probably the "best" netbook out there, but I would also check out the MSI Wind and the new EEE "HE" model as the right shift keys are bigger. Samsung has all of that and very good battery life. The "HE" EEE is supposed to have fantastic battery life also, but I haven't seen one out in the wild yet.
     
  7. Woofer00

    Woofer00 Limp Gawd

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    If it's a hal.dll problem, the most likely problem is a boot.ini or BIOS boot order problem that plagues almost all USB installs.

    The NC10 is definitely one of the nicest netbooks currently on the market, but it also has one of the heftier price tags around.
     
  8. Tbolt

    Tbolt Limp Gawd

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    This is indeed the problem. Any remedies? I have tried multiple methods to make the USB bootable and a few different versions of XP (Xp pro corporate sp3, performance edition [about 274mbs], and a nlited version of xp pro)

    If the problem is with the USB stick; direct me to one that is known compatible =D
     
  9. Woofer00

    Woofer00 Limp Gawd

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    It's (probably) not the USB stick. You'd fail much sooner than the hal.dll problem if it were.

    The hal.dll problem occurs because the MBR rewrite during the windows install process tends to forget about any pre-existing partitions on the drive, and makes mistakes in the boot.ini as it does so. You might be able to get by just fixing the partition references in your boot.ini if you have a boot disk or by just re-installing windows onto the existing failed partition, but there are no guarantees. Try aspireoneuser forums or eeeuser forums, they're pretty solid for info on how to deal with the vast majority of problems that crop up (it's nice that netbooks all rely on the same essential hardware).

    As a side note, this is one of many reason why many prefer to install linux after windows than windows after linux. Linux devs are much smarter when it comes to multi-boot systems and straightening out partition issues. On my AAO I had xp installed first, then put linux on it without any issues. Decided to replace xp with vista, and had hell to deal with. I pulled my personal linux files off /home and wiped the system clean, then made sure to place Vista before Linux on the physical drive, and everything played nice.

    Oh, and don't use the MS bootloader. It's a piece of crap. Use GRUB and you'll be able to hibernate your windows OS without any issues. If you use the MS bootloader, the hibernated drives won't be fully accessible from linux since they're still locked. Workaround exist, but in the long run GRUB is better.
     
  10. Tbolt

    Tbolt Limp Gawd

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    Awesome info, thanks alot Woofer. I imagine my problem arose because I had put xubuntu on it the day I bought it (instead of the silly ubuntu version they give you: MI or something) and that worked great, but I got greedy and wanted to run steam so I went for windows. of course I ran into hell and now im back to just xubuntu. Ill figure it out though.
     
  11. Somnambulator

    Somnambulator Gawd

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    Dell mini10 is Atom Z-based, ie 1GB RAM MAX no matter what. it's also got a slower Atom at base price. it's a shrunken and updated Mini 12, not a better Mini 9.
     
  12. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    I have a feeling that the 1GB limit is something that Intel is starting to place on netbooks with new chipset limitations :rolleyes:

    I've seen this not only on the Dell, but also with the new MSI U120 Wind.
     
  13. Woofer00

    Woofer00 Limp Gawd

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    MS limited the extended XP distribution for netbooks to systems with only 1gb of ram, hence the plethora of systems that retail with only 1gb, but can be upgraded to more. Other limitations include a screen size of (i think) 14" and a single core processor.

    Note that this is only a licensing limit, so the majority netbooks (including the AAO, N10, mini9, wind, eepc) can be upgrade to 1.5gb or up to 2 gb of ram, though the performance increase is negligible on the platform. Some have a single sodimm slot, others have one stick soldered and one sodimm slot, and very few, like the mini 10, have only soldered ram.

    Dell will offer 2gb models of the mini 10 in the future, so hope isn't entirely lost, though you can be sure there'll be a nice premium to be paid for it.
     
  14. shoopdewoop1

    shoopdewoop1 Limp Gawd

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    Yeah, I can vouch for sure you won't be upping the RAM by that much. It seems netbook designers were anti-mods. Aside from replacing the wireless card and adding 512 of RAM to get 1.5 GB, I haven't been able to mod jack on mine.
     
  15. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    Well, from what I've heard the newer Poulsbo chipset designed for Atom had a 1GB RAM max put in place by Intel. The Mini 12 uses it.

    That was just from reading an article on the internet though. Not saying that it was true or not because I haven't researched Poulsbo other than in passing.
     
  16. Ockie

    Ockie *** Self Proclaimed Storage King ***

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    I love the Mini9. I use mine daily. I have no complaints about the unit. What you also want to check out is the Mini12, it's super slim and looks really nice, it's also a good balance of size ratio.
     
  17. alcuin

    alcuin Limp Gawd

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    The mini12 is a nice machine; bigger keyboard than the 9. The 9's advantages are its video chipset if you're intrested in hackintoshing, and its 4cell battery compared to the mini12's 3 cell battery. Supposedly Dell will be coming out with a 6cell for the mini12, but I haven't heard much about that lately.
     
  18. alcuin

    alcuin Limp Gawd

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    The current Mini10 is 1gb ram, soldered and non-upgradable. Dell will be selling a 2gb version in the future.
    http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2009/02/dell-cripples-m.html
     
  19. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    Mini 12 is also 1GB RAM max FWIW.
     
  20. Parja

    Parja [H]ardForum Junkie

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    If you're willing to spend the money for the Mini 12, I'd take a look at the Asus N10J.
     
  21. Vicinity

    Vicinity 2[H]4U

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    Yeah, I saw that thing. Apparently it can play COD4 fine, I'm not sure if I'd dish out the money to play games on that small screen. Plus, I don't need any MORE distractions in class.... :p

    I found the Asus 1002HA on Newegg, it looks pretty nice and its thin, almost perfect for me. Anyone heard anything bad about it? If not, I might just order one tomorrow.
     
  22. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    Looks nice...I still don't like the shift key unless they moved it on that model. The HE model has the hybrid storage and the battery lasts somewhat longer than the others.
     
  23. Zardoz

    Zardoz 2[H]4U

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    The mini 9 is really nice IMO, as most have sead the keyboard is a pain and the biggest complaint that everyone has. the 2GB memory is a limit of the intel chipset used, but on a small netbook you dont need to much more then that. one factor is that this does use a SSD for the drive. yeah it's a PCIe SSD but that did not matter that much. as for reloading it's easy to use any USB optical drive or USB key to use to repload the system. I use a USB key to reload myself.

    all and all I realy like my mini9 I would give it about an 8 out of 10


    btw it runs Windows 7 beta flawless.
     
  24. Parja

    Parja [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Seems like quite a hefty premium for a bit of brushed aluminum. The specs aren't all that great and the battery life kinda sucks.
     
  25. Vicinity

    Vicinity 2[H]4U

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    I mainly want it because its thin and flat, unlike other netbooks that have that massive bulge on the bottom from the battery.
     
  26. ilkhan

    ilkhan No Title for You!

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    lol
    My mini9 ran just fine with 2GB of ram installed.
     
  27. dr.stevil

    dr.stevil [H]ardForum Junkie

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    love my mini9... use it all the time. The keyboard was my biggest complaint, but after using it for the past month or so, it's actually not that bad. For the most part, I can type fine on it.

    As others have said, you cannot use a standard HDD in it which isn't a deal breaker, but it does make things difficult. I ended up just mapping a network drive to run software from, and use a usb drive for anything that I'll need on the go. SD cards work well for this too.

    All in all, I'm very happy with it but sometimes wish the screen was a little larger, or atleast able to display a larger resolution than 1024x600

    if you get one, I wouldn't really worry about upgrading the memory. I upgraded to 2gb from a 1gb stick, and it was probably a waste of money. I haven't noticed windows using anywhere near 1gb yet
     
  28. onetheless

    onetheless n00b

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    As others have said my only real complaint is the keyboard layout:(. I have XP Home on my mini 9 w/ 8gb SSD and an upgraded 2gb of ram. I plan on spending the money to getting a larger SSD, possibly a 32gb as I am interested in dual booting and having more software installed on the hard drive. Otherwise, I'll either be putting a lighter version of XP on or possibly a linux distribution. I'm also looking into doing some other mods, people have posted some good guides on the forums at mydellmini.com

    I'd reccomend the mini to any of my friends, especially where I paid less than $250 and it fits in my backpack without taking too much space weight.
     
  29. grizzed

    grizzed Limp Gawd

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    I've got the mini 9 8GM SSD, 1GB RAM and ubuntu. I've only had one problem. The battery died on me and wouldn't hold a charge. I called dell about it on tues and had the replacement by wed afternoon.

    My biggest complaint about netbooks is people who don't know what they are buying. The keyboard is cramped ... no kidding the whole netbook is smaller than my g15 keyboard. The screen isn't too small ... no kidding you bought a 9 inch screen!. The processor isn't powerful enough to play this that or the other game .... no ki... forget it -go get a 19 inch gaming laptop so I can hear you complain about how heavy it is.
     
  30. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    ^^^ yeah, I agree. I personally ended up getting a used IBM X60 or a Dell D420 for around $300-400 off of Ebay. Older Core Duo or slow Core 2 Duo, but small size, decent battery, and great for surfing (same 945 graphic chipset also).

    I don't mind the netbooks, but the larger resolution on a 12" screen seals the deal for me. Especially when the weight is comparable.
     
  31. ronin510

    ronin510 n00b

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    I recently just picked a dell mini 9 up from the dell outlet -16GB SSD/512MB RAM/webcam/bluetooth, $245 shipped. It's mainly being used for Mac OS X. If you're at all interested in such a thing, this netbook's got the best support for it and an active community (mydellmini.com).

    If you just want to run XP (or Windows 7), you'll find similar performance with all the other netbooks. The battery life is a less than others, 3-3.5 hours depending on use. 16GB for XP is fine, with an option of using a built in SDHC card reader for added storage.

    The stock SSD cards are a bit slow on write speeds. You'll usually find 70MBps read / 15 MBps write for the 8GBs and up (the 4GB version is sloooow). There are available 3rd party SSD upgrades that go as high as 64 GB with 70 MBps read/ 40 MBps write, but they're on the pricey side (Runcore 32GB/$119, 64GB/$219).

    The best feature with this netbook that I can think of, aside from the OS X support, is it is completely silent. There are no fans or moving drives. The build quality feels a lot better than the other netbooks I've compared it to. The screen is beautiful, if you don't mind glossy. Some of the matte-screened netbooks look washed out and fuzzy with their "anti-glare" feature.

    The footprint is very small and fits in the small pocket of my backpack.
     
  32. Somnambulator

    Somnambulator Gawd

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    after trying a bunch of netbooks, i bit on a one day mini 9 sale. completely ubuntu stock w/ 8GB SSD. i planned to sell it if i didnt like it.

    WOW. nothing else i touched can compare. it has the build quality of the Eee. no other netbook's touchpad can compare, it's simply amazingly responsive. the screen is good. it's completely silent and get's mildly warm at worst. not sure about others but i'm getting 5+ hrs battery life with the standard 4cell battery. the keyboard could be a little better. having to hold Fn to type a backslash is painful when you work IT. also the double and single quote key is on the bottom row next to left arrow. the unit appears smaller than the Acer One i had directly next to it (Mini's touchpad was waaaay better)

    i'd recommend the Mini 9 to everyone who wants a 9" SSD netbook. after some of them hands on in and blindly buying this without any experience, i really lucked out. it's a better Eee PC for a cheaper price.

    btw i think mine might have an updated keyboard. i saw pics of other's 9's on mydellmini last night and mine has a longer space bar and some other keys are located differently. i really like the keyboard's layout (even the F-keys) except for the backslash and quotes as mentioned.

    i really cant explain how high the build quailty is. ive used a LOT of Dells and have had mixed results with their laptops. ive had great experience and some lesser ones with them and was fully prepared to sell this Mini if i didnt like and i was almost instantly won over. It far exceded my expectations. i cant recommend it enough...Dell should be paying me!

    also, i gave it to my boss for a while and he really liked it. so much so that we might purchase 30, 60, or 90 of them for next year's school year instead of standard 15.4 laptops.

    the 9 is better than the 10 by a lot, and i dont see a big benefit in the Mini 12, either. i think a 10 or 12" Mini 9 would be awesome but the 10 is a Mini 12 and the 12 uses the Atom Z series that sucks balls with 1GB integrated RAM.

    almost forgot to mention that i put XP Pro on my Mini almost immidiately. the stock ubuntu that comes with it was actually very usuable and well laid out for Joe PC User. ive used ubuntu before and this version was suited perfectly for a netbook. However i bought it for work and play and @ work i need XP Pro. even with 512MB RAM this thing is incredibly snappy...but i bought a $20 2GB stick anyway. i think it'll be overkill but who gives a shit for 20 bucks.
     
  33. aggiestudd07

    aggiestudd07 Gawd

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    I have had the 1000HE for a week and a half now. Battery life is at least 7 hours, emphasis on the at least. Multitouch touchpad is also amazing. I havent seen that on any laptop other that macbooks.

    1000HE FTW!!!
     
  34. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj [H]ard as it Gets

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    That would definitely be on my short list of netbooks. For me, I grabbed a Dell D420 for $300 off ebay. I figured a Core 2 processor with the 945 graphics would be better than the Atom with the 945 graphics. It's like a Mini 12, except upgradeable.

    9 cell battery for $40 gives me over 5 hours of battery life. For me it seemed like the better way to go over a netbook. I only had a 10" EEE (and a 7" EEE too for that matter).