You may have seen pictures of the 9 decked out in red and white, but currently the only colour available in the UK is black. However, it's a super swish piano black finish that looks fantastic. You'll need to ensure you've got a cloth handy at all times to keep it looking spotless as it's prone to picking up greasy finger marks.
Cleverly designed keyboard - if you don't use Function keys
The lid slides down behind the main body of the machine when you open it up - similar to many netbooks - and there's the usual 0.3-megapixel webcam sat a top the screen.
Despite its small footprint, Dell has clearly spent some time trying to cram in as large a keyboard as possible. Perhaps the most noticeable result of this approach is the complete lack of function keys along the top of the keyboard. This means the rest of the keys can be much taller, providing a larger strike area and cutting down on mistypes. If you still can't live without your Fn-based shortcuts, F1-F10 have been relegated to the second row - simply press Fn then A-;. If you need F11 or F12, though, you're out of luck.
The usual SCC ports, on the left...
The touchpad is small but responsive, filling the remaining vertical space between the keyboard and bottom edge, bar two small left- and right-click buttons. Unlike many machines with dedicated volume, wireless and ambient temperature buttons, the Dell is distinctly minimalist in comparison. The power button sits alone above the keyboard and everything else is relegated to a secondary function of an existing key on the top row.
When it comes to performance, the Mini 9 is a bit of a mixed bag. It only just missed on the top spot for CPU performance running PC Mark05 and it was almost as good for memory. Hard drive results were shocking, in comparison, with its solid-state drive unable to keep up with the spinning platters offered by the competition.
...and the right
It had no trouble chomping through our Gimp Gaussian Blur test, managing to chew through it in a mere 5.1 seconds putting it second only to the aforementioned Advent 4213.
"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?