Enraged by Quentin stealing a march on me in the gadget wars with his Mac Mini 9, I resolved to restore my shattered dignity. I bought a Dell Mini 9 on eBay (the cheap one with 8GB SSD and 1G Ram), a 2GB RAM chip and a RunCore 64GB SSD. This is more expensive than a standard SSD, but one’s paying extra for its killer feature — a USB interface.
And now I have an absolutely delicious little machine which runs Leopard like a native.
It’s an eerie experience running an Apple OS on non-Apple hardware. As Leopard launched on the Dell I was suddenly reminded that I’ve owned a version of virtually every Apple machine there has ever been — starting with an Apple II in the late 1970s. But this is the first time I’ve seen the apple logo launch on a machine that the company hasn’t made.
In terms of performance, the Dell is pretty good. The screen is ok. Anything that requires disk access tends to run faster than on my MacBook Air, but processes that are compute-intensive run slower. So this is not a machine for video editing, say. But then, neither is the Air.
The great thing about the Dell, apart from the psychic satisfaction it offers, is the form factor. It’s a nicely made piece of kit. And it fits easily into a camera bag, so it will go more places with me.
I’ve used a lot of NetBooks since the ASUS 701 first launched, and I love the concept. But until now, using a NetBook meant that one always had to accept some compromises either in terms of functionality or ergonomics. The Dell Mini 9 running Leopard means much fewer compromises.