When I ordered my Mini-10 netbook, the scheduled ship date was May 7th and the estimated delivery (at the 3-5 business days $10 shipping charge I chose) was May 12th. Needless to say, I was looking forward to receiving the netbook, especially since I sold my Asus Eee PC netbook last weekend.
On the day it was scheduled to ship, I received an email advising that the expected delivery date May 16th! The even bigger surprise was that it actually shipped the next day. Not only that, Dell upgraded the shipping to Saturday delivery, at no extra charge to me — so it arrived even before the original expected delivery date.
I know that some people, including ones whose judgment I respect, have had problems with Dell. However, I’ve always been impressed with their quality and service.
My first step, of course, was to turn it on and accept the license agreement for the "system builder’s" version of Windows XP Home. The operating system is one place where Dell is unlike some of its competition. Dell actually provides the Windows operating system CDROM; many other manufacturers supply a recovery CD that restores the whole computer, or provide a recovery partition on the hard drive to get the same capability. But, if you want to actually do a clean installation, you need the OS CDROM. Naturally, Dell provides a CD of the necessary drivers and CD’s for the software included.
That brings us to one of the basics of the netbook. Since it’s designed to be small, light and carried along with you, a netbook does not have a CD or DVD drive built into it. Of course, you need to have one to install software from DVD’s or CD’s. I bought a Samsung external DVD burner drive, about 1/2 inch tall, from Newegg.com, so I could install software.
That’s a big difference from the Linux-based Asus Eee PC 701 that I previously owned. The Linux-based netbook had software already installed. The Windows-based netbooks have trial software installed, e.g. Norton Internet Security 2009, and sometimes Microsoft Office 2007, but you have to install most of the software you need. If it’s downloadable, that’s great. Otherwise, you’ll need an external DVD drive.
The first piece of software that I installed was Acronis True Image 2009. This let me create my own "restore image&quqot; of the basic system. Then, I proceeded to install Sunbelt VIPRE, Sunbelt Personal Firewall, WinPatrol, Microsoft Office 2007 Professional (a retail license allows the primary user to install a second copy on a portable computer, as long as he/she is the only user), Firefox, OpenOffice v3, Java (www.java.com), Notepad++, Filezilla and the CD/DVD-burning portion of the Nero Essentials program that came with the external DVD drive (I certainly didn’t need to load the video editing and burning capabilities!). At that point, it was time to do another image backup, this time with all my software and configuration choices, with Acronis True Image Home 2009. Now, if I need to restore from backup, the Mini-10 will be all ready to continue.
Finally, I spent the remainder of the week on a business trip, using my Mini-10 instead of my much larger Dell Lattitude. Where the Lattitude virtually filled my relatively small laptop bag, the Mini-10 gave me plenty of space for other things. The large keyboard of the Mini-10 (not quite the size of a normal laptop) was easy to use, even with my large hands, except that I hit the caps-lock key a few times accidentally.
With both a 10/100 Ethernet port and 802.11 b/g/n wireless capability built into the Mini-10, I was ready for whatever connection the hotel provided — as long as it provided a connection (which it did). The Mini-10 does not have an internal dialup modem, but I can get an external USB v.92 data+fax modem at NewEgg for about $24, if I decide I need one.
The week went well with the Dell Mini-10. However, I was happy to return home to my Inspiron 8600…