Well, our reviewnetbook arrived on Friday, and we’ve been using it on and off since then; in fact, this article was written completely on the netbook! Having turned it on, we were impressed the battery came sufficiently charged to get going, although the completion of the XP install took quite some time (as always). Having got that working, we were impressed by the screen; the 8.9″ screen is nice and clear, and runs at 1024 x 600, which is just big enough; less than 1024 width causes problems on lots of websites, although the 600 height is often not enough, with many websites needed additional scrolling to read.
One thing that the Dell Mini 9 doesn’t have, which was brought out by all that additional vertical scrolling is the lack of a scroll area on the touchpad, something we are used to from larger laptops. Having said that, the addition of an external scroll mouse has removed most of the problems with the touchpad, by virtue of not using it 😉
Although the whole keyboard is less than full size, a number of the symbol keys are even smaller again, which makes them more difficult to touch type on (eg the comma key is the same size as the main keys but the period key next to it is smaller), but generally the keyboard is acceptable, especially given the size of the unit.
In terms of software installed, there’s a nice range pre-installed, including Microsoft Works and viewers for the various Office document types, Dell video chat and webcam software, McAfee (30 day license only though), and a WiFi / Bluetooth connection application. We were a little disappointed at the lack of IE7 and the 129Mb of Microsoft patches that were needed straight away, which has of course eaten further into the 8GB SSD Flash it came with.
Overall, our initial impressions are that it’s a nice, small little laptop, and very easy to use and cart around. Our only other problem; despite what thewebsite says, the device claims we are only in a GPRS area, ie no 3G, so we’ve yet to test the Mobile Broadband in anger; more updates later in the week on that.
Update: The Dell Mini 9 does have vertical scroll support in the touchpad, but only after a fresh boot; if you use standby mode, this support seems to get lost on resume, especially if an external mouse is attached, whereas it’s fine on a cold boot even with an external mouse plugged in.
Oh, and once we had connected toin a 3G area, all was sorted out, including then listing the original location as a 3G supported area.