Dell Inspiron Mini 9 with Vodafone HSDPA
The best netbook with integrated 3G goodness
Review Dell may be late to the netbook party, but it's turned up with something very fashionable on its arm to make up: the Inspiron Mini 9, bulging in all the right places with HSDPA 3G mobile broadband goodness.
Dell's Inspiron Mini 9: now with HSDPA, courtesy of Vodafone
Unlike the Advent 4213 we reviewed recently, which also comes with HSDPA and into which you can slip any old 3G-enabled SIM card and surf away, the situation with the Mini 9 is a little more complicated. Although you can order one direct from Dell for £269 for the Linux version or £299 for the Windows XP flavour, neither comes equipped with 3G.
If mobile internet is what you're after, then your only option is to get one from Vodafone. On the plus side, the carrier will give you the Small, Cheap Computer for free. In exchange, however, you'll have to promised to cough up at least £25 a month for the next two years, which works out at £600 minimum for the 1GB-a-month deal. If you need to transfer 3GB a month then the £30-a-month commitment will cost you an additional £120 over the life of the contract.
While the price seems reasonable if you need a mobile broadband connection, the contract does seem a little on the lengthy side - two years is a long time in the life of a laptop.
Apart from baked in 3G, the Vodafone-branded Mini 9's spec isn't all that surprising. It's powered by a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor and 1GB of DDR 2 memory. The screen stretches to 8.9 inches and packs in a standard 1024 x 600 pixels. Dell has gone down the solid-state route when it comes to storage, opting for an 8GB SSD.
The best-looking SCC yet?
Completing the list on the wireless front, there's both Bluetooth and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi for your cableless communication needs. You'll find the usual three USB ports on offer - two on the left, one on the right - plus VGA, SD/Memory Stick slot, wired Ethernet plus 3.5mm headphone and microphone sockets.
"Furthermore, why do El Reg not make more of a point of exposing these "deals" that the networks periodically try to punt on to us, as the duds they really are?"
Because if they were honest and trashed the product, no one would send them shit to review anymore. I am surprised people think that el reg is some bastion of neutrality. They are a business after all. Not that I like it, just take what they say with a grain of salt.
salt shaker in the pocket....
There is no space on the motherboard. The Mini 9 runs hot like most netbooks but there is no internal fan. I've had my system board replaced twice in one month. First time the card reader died, the second time the SSD burned, literally burned. A note from the tech engineer who repaired it stated that I shouldn't run the Mini 9 plugged in for longer than two or three hours due to the overheating issue, even less if running wi-fi. As a third-party repair outfit contracted by Dell (Flextronics) he's dealt with a number of overheated Mini 9s and filed reports with Dell.
Needless to say I returned the thing disappointed.
Re. 'silent' Advent 4213
As per Register Hardware's review of the Advent 4213:
The 4213's so-called 'silent' mode isn't - it just undeclocks the CPU which may or may not, depending on processor load, make the fan run more quietly.
AC: "Hmm the 4123 has a silent mode??? what on earth can be too noisey in one of these?"
Sometimes any noise is too noisy in a quiet enviroment - and I would like to use one to do audio newsletters. The EEE 900's screen whined until a BIOS update was provided.
AFAIK the Dell is the only Netbook that is fanless. The EEE 900 which sounds like an angry mosquito; the Acer Aspire One is less intrusive.
Why no metric for battery life using 3g?
Surely the whole point of integrated 3g is that you can use the thing where mains power and wifi are unavailable. Why does the review not give ANY indication of battery life when running over the 3g connection?
I currently use a 3g usb dongle, do these 3g integrated netbooks offer better battery performance or not?
Instead of covering the angles that might make the review a bit more useful and interesting you instead do yet another generic netbook review. Whilst in whine mode: Being that so many of these machines are using the same 1.6ghz atom processor how come there's these differences in CPU performance?