The kind folks at Dell recently gave me a new Mini to try out. Here are my notes.
1. It’s inexpensive, light, small, and fun to use. I call it my “coffee shop computer”- it’s good for traveling, it’s good for surfing the web, writing docs and sending emails from Starbucks. It’s good for very basic programs- Mozilla, Skype, etc, it’s not designed for something heavy like Photoshop. It all depends on what your needs are. I use it as an on-the-go alternative to my main computer, not a replacement for it. The small keyboard I found a bit fiddly at first, but I soon got used to it. Now I’m fine with it. I like it A LOT more than I thought I was going to. I own four computers- it turns out this is the one I now use the most, without question.
2. Before this came along, my main workhorse was a Mac laptop. I toted that everywhere. Now I just leave it my office. Macs are great computers, don’t get me wrong, but they’re expensive and with the exception of the Macbook Air, a lot heavier to lug around than the Mini. Because of the price, the prospect of losing a Mac on the road is a lot more daunting than losing a Mini. Last month when I flew to Amsterdam I just took the Dell Mini along with me- I left the Mac behind- and got on just fine.
3. Of all the computers I’ve ever owned, this by far has gotten the most attention from random members of the public. People come over to me all the time when I’m out and about, amazed that a proper computer could be so small. It gets the most attention from women- they like that a computer could fit in their handbag. They like the prospect of not having to lug something larger and heavier around with them.
4. As Dell is a client of mine, I find it encouraging that they could come up with something that credibly competes with Macbook Air on its own terms, rather than just making a cheaper, less elegant version of the latter. Before I got the Mini, I was thinking of buying a Macbook Air. I no longer am.
5. From what I know about the iPhone and the Blackberry [i.e. quite a bit, but nothing too extreme], I’d much rather surf the web with the Mini, than with a phone. Sure, the Mini doesn’t fit into my jeans pocket like a phone can, but it does fit easily inside my denim jacket’s inside pocket. That’s not a bad compromise.
6. A lot of the time I simply don’t feel like schlepping my backpack around. I have this much smaller bag that I use most of the time, just big enough to carry around some pens, a small notebook and blank business cards to draw cartoons on. The Mini is small enough to fit into that, which I’m REALLY pleased about.
7. All in all, I’m very happy with it. I think Dell might have a wee hit on their hands with this one. Good news.
8. I was under no obligation from Dell to blog about the computer. They didn’t ask me too, nor did they even drop any subtle hints my way. I certainly wasn’t planning on blogging about it, but I mentioned on my Twitter feed a few times that I had a new Mini, and a lot of people started asking me questions. In order to answer them properly, I decided a blog post was in order.
9. Would I buy one myself with my own money, had Dell not be so generous? Sure. Having used it for just over a month, I now can’t imagine not having it around. Rock on.