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Netbooks & Alternatives

A while back I mentioned that Radio Shack had an interesting promotion on a netbook and debated at what price I'd find such a device buyable, and I also recently mentioned seeing the Alphasmart Neo. My friend Diego dropped me a note that a cheaper alternative to the Neo is the Dana that he has seen as low as $30 on eBay. Haven't tried it, but $30...interesting.

Following the post about the netbook, my friend Chris mentioned that he had seen then on the Dell site for under $300 refurbished. Got me thinking, why not try one? Not sure it's the best use of money, but it had me interested and why not pursue it? So I'm the proud owner of a white Dell Mini 9, comes loaded with XP Home on a 16G solid state drive. It's lightweight (of course), keyboard is usable but takes some getting used to due to the reduced keyboard size (and doesn't have dedicated F-keys, have to use FN-key to get F-key behavior). It's got wifi, and connected right up at home, no problem. I haven't really tested battery life, but seems to be good easily for a couple hours, probably more with wifi off. No DVD, so you have to load other software from network or USB, but I'm not expecting to load much stuff on here.

Couple things I've thought about since having it. One is that it's perfect for small children. It's fairly inexpensive, it runs a modern OS, fits their size, only one cable needed - to recharge. The machine has a webcam, and for really small children they can use the Dell software to use the facial tracking to add glasses, hats, backgrounds, a nice way to learn to point and click. Another is that its's perfect for a "couch" computer. How often do you see something on TV and want to look it up? Perfect for that. I'm also thinking it might just stay in my truck, so when I go for coffee or whatever I can type a few notes and if there's free wifi, do most anything else I need.

We'll see how much I use it long term, but it's not stupid. Lots of people don't need any more computer than this.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Steve Jones on 21 January 2009

You've got me interested as well. I'm trying to decide if I can actually use one of these, and if it's worth carrying around. There are places I'd use it, and it might be nice to travel with if I don't need a full machine for working.

Looking forward to some updates to see if this works well for you.

Posted by Andy Warren on 21 January 2009

I've got a reminder set for a couple months out.

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