Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My wife, the hypermedia Mom and her new Dell Mini 9

Over the holidays I bit the tech bullet and bought my wife a new netbook. Her current laptop was crumbling under the musings of a 4 year old and his wicked wild key strokes - and it was simply time to replace it.

Let me to set the stage:
We have 3 very energized boys (ages: 4yr, 2yr, 9mo). My wife is a "stay at home mom", an E.R. nurse, and a MOPS ministry leader / coordinator at our church. She is constantly on the move. During the day she and the kiddos will hit the local zoos, libraries, museums, etc. At night sometimes after everyone goes to bed she and I chat while I sling code and she works on the ministry.

All of those activities require that she be knee deep in hypermedia, or something digital. She is either teaching the kiddos about the internet, taking pictures with them and uploading them to our media server, getting her excel fix for MOPS, she does budgets, rosters, sends and receives 100's of email every day, prints media for ministry and the family, edits photos, etc...

She is a digital nomad - who roams DFW providing salve to scratched knees, defending against lost drinks and misplaced toys, crusading for ministry needs, and smiting poopie diapers; all while somehow staying connected and productive at home, church, and work. My wife is the Joan of Arc of the digital age - she is the strongest most connected woman I have ever known.

Her requirements for a computer were simple - It needed to be fast, small / highly portable, easy to use, have decent battery life, and durable. I looked at a few options but the best bang for the buck was the Dell Inspiron Mini 9.

Here's the configuration that I ended up with:
  • Inspiron 910 Intel Atom processor N270, 1.6GHz, 533Mhz512K L2 Cache
  • CHERRY RED Color with Gloss Finish
  • 1GB,DDR2,533MHZ,1 DIMM
  • 16GB Solid State Drive (mini-card Module/PATA)
  • Genuine Windows XP Home Edition (would've preferred ubuntu)
  • Wireless 802.11g Mini Card
  • Integrated 1.3M Pixel Webcam
  • 32WHr 4-cell Battery
  • Bluetooth 2.1 module via USB I/F
After a bit of coupon searching I ended up with a solid price and a sweet timbuk2 convert bag. I will be grilling her over the next few weeks about it and post a review / update. So far none of our little minions have thwarted the mini's durable exterior and she is able to type wicked fast on the mini's keyboard with one hand while holding the baby.

I have already purchased 2 goodies that I am totally looking forward to installing in her mini soon:
  • RunCore Pro 32GB Mini PCIe SSD(supposed to be 3~4 times faster on writes that the default from Dell)
  • Transcend 2gb module (she is a heavy muli-tasker and 1gb just won't cut it)

I'll bench a before and after for those who are interested.


  1. Thanks for your purchase of the Dell Mini 9 and I hope your wife (one of the REAL digital nomads, I might add) enjoys the system. Let me know if you have any issues.

    Bruceericatdell (www.digitalnomads.com)

  2. Those Dell Mini 9 *really* look sexy; I can't get over the idea of such small capacity, though.

    Isn't "lots of media" and "small disk space" a bad combination on your wife's case?

  3. I totally agree! I've been watching her use it for a few weeks now and I still cannot get past how slick it is.

    Turns out the SSD capacity was just about right (she is setting at about 8gb free with xp and office installed) - though a little slow for her taste (reason for the upgrade to the RunCore) The media is stored on a web facing NAS in our house.

    So if she is working media or watching movies locally she's good. Otherwise, if remote, she'll plug in a usb external storage device.

    I have noticed that 1gb simply is not enough for her usage, hopefully the 2gb sodimm and setting a fixed page file size will help.