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This alpine white Dell Mini 10 was a present from Intel.

I’m using my awesome Asus Eee PC 1000HA as a benchmark. Yes, I’ve cut out an Apple-shaped logo out of black duct tape and stuck it on for kicks.


First impressions of the Dell Mini 10:

  • Oh, the default appearance settings for Windows XP are ugly. Let’s fix that ASAP.
  • This Dell Dock, a custom ObjectDock for organizing shortcuts, is cool.
  • The 1.33Ghz Atom Z520 processor feels sluggish (my Asus has the 1.60Ghz N270).
  • Bonus points for the sleek clamshell design.
  • It has the same ports, with the exception of the HDMI in place of VGA.

Other observations:

  1. The netbook has a smaller screen angle. My Asus can flatten out like a book.
  2. The ElanTech Smartpad is great. Shortcuts can be enabled for two and three finger taps, swipes, and pinches. The “cover gesture” is my favorite–plant your hand over the trackpad to minimize all open windows. The left and right bottom corners of the trackpad are clickable.
  3. The keyboard seems nearly full-size. But it’s not as snappy.
  4. The Dell Mini 10 is noticeably lighter and feels more compact.

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Unfortunately, I love my all-white ASUS because it has more battery life. So I am passing the Dell Mini 10 off to my little brother. I’m going to need to buy an HDMI to VGA adapter…hm.

The emergence of netbooks follows a couple of trends in computing and hardware…Before, slim and portable laptops were often sold at a premium and packed with expensive features. But with the release of smaller, lower-energy and lower-cost processors like Intel’s Atom chip, manufacturers have been able to construct tighter and cheaper packages that can be focused on a smaller list of tasks [and] with more services offered through the Internet “cloud,” a growing number of consumers are content to just browse, use social networking sites, e-mail and consume their favorite media on their laptop. [via SF Gate]

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{Left: The box. Right: Asus Eee PC 1000HA next to my old Motorola RAZR}

{Left: A friend’s 8.9″ Asus Eee PC 901. Right: My Asus Eee PC 1000HA.}
{Middle: KidRobot Munny, a DIY customizable vinyl doll.}

Ordered my white Asus Eee PC 1000HA off of Amazon for $429.99 in early November (now $419.99, or $389.99 in black) and have been using it ever since. Netbooks specifications are nearly indistinguishable, so I spent two long months weighing the options. I chose the Asus Eee PC 1000HA because of these factors, ranked in order of importance:

  1. Minumum 10″ screen. Tiny screens mean tiny keyboards. 
  2. Long Battery Life. As a lower quality laptop, it might as well have one clear advantage. 6-cells were not available for 10″ netbooks, and the ones that did were priced well over $450.  The 10″ Samsung NC10 was my second choice,  since it averaged 6-7 hours in battery life tests and has Bluetooth, but it was $500 at the time. 
  3. Costs under $450 with Windows XP. No other brands offered a 10″ 6-cell battery at $430. Wasn’t ready to dive into a whole new OS with Linux, which was always packaged with SSD anyway, but was alright with an upped price for Windows XP.
  4. Minimum 80Gb HDD. Solid state hard drives are still pricey and I can do without. I wanted at least an extra 80Gb to cover the multimedia file overflow from my primary laptop.
  5. Not ugly. Preferably white or silver. HP Minis still have the best build aesthetics, but are weak on battery life.

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Asus Eee PC 1000HA Full Specifications:

  • Operating system: Windows XP Home
  • Internal memory: 160GB 5400 RPM Hard Drive (Seagate 5400.4)
  • RAM: 1 GB DDR2 (667MHz)
  • Processor: 1.6 GHz Intel Atom
  • Screen: 10 inches, 1024 x 600 pixels, LED backlight
  • Peripheral connectivity: Three USB 2.0
  • External video: One VGA
  • Networking: 54g Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), 10/100Mbps Fast Ethernet
  • External audio: One headphone and one microphone port
  • Memory expansion: Slot for MMC/SD/SDHC cards
  • Webcamera: Yes, 1.3 megapixels
  • Battery: 6 cells (6600 mAh), up to 7 hours
  • Weight: 3 lbs 2.5 oz, 3 lbs 11 oz with AC adapter
  • Dimensions: 10.5 × 7.5 × 1.5 inches
  • Other: Kensington lock slot, 10Gb online storage from ASUS, one year warranty


{Pictured: 8.9″ Eee PC 901 stacked on top of a 10″ Eee PC 1000HA.}
{In the foreground is my new phone, the Sony Ericsson W350.}

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Pros: Extremely fast to boot up and shut down (5-10 seconds) and I get 4-5 hours on a full charge with medium brightness and Wi-Fi. Plastic casing feels surprisingly solid. Great multi-touch trackpad. Non-glossy screen. Wireless range and signal pickup are superb. Connects to my 32″ LCD HDTV with no problems. 

The buttons are underneath the trackpad and not on the sides, as you’ll find on many other netbooks. The keyboard is 92% full size, so it’s cramped but easy to adjust to. Pressing Ctrl-/+ (normally minimizes font sizes) resizes whole webpage, images and all! Four buttons above the keyboard are programmable. Brightness/volume/display controls are accessible via Fn+Function keys, just like on my PowerBook’s keyboard, as are power management and wireless connection options. The charger is white and appropriately light.

Cons: The “Pearl White” colorway means a sickening toothpaste/Barbie-doll pearly. Momentary gag reflex upon unboxing, which has passed. Pearl is nice and shiny, but matte white would have been better. Speakers are terrible, but that hardly matters with external audio. No optical drive (duh). No Bluetooth, but this was quickly remedied by purchasing a bluetooth dongle with software for ~$4 off of eBay. The capslock doesn’t have a light. Mac OSX > Windows XP (at least it’s not Vista!)

Bottom Line: A durable, decently powerful, internet friendly, and portable netbook to have on eight hour runs to campus and work. It’s very straightforward to use and only demands one recharge per day. “Easy. Excellent. Exciting.” [Read in-depth reviews @ SlashGear & NotebookReview.]

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Windows XP’s interface made me feel traitorous, I mean, weird. Accessing applications via the Mac dock is much more intuitive than using the accursed Windows taskbar or desktop icons. Scrolling with two fingers on the multi-touchpad gave me the idea to Mac-ify the appearance of my netbook. To make myself a bit more comfortable on a foreign Windows OS, I:

  1. Changed wallpaper to a Mac OSX Tiger Aqua.
  2. Installed Mac mouse pointers.
  3. Removed extraneous desktop icons. 
  4. Installed Safari, iTunes, and Firefox for Windows.
  5. Hid and replaced the Windows taskbar with the ObjectBar.
  6. Simulated the Mac dock with RKLauncher, and customized with icons from the ObjectDock gallery. Shortcuts to Control Panel, Games, My Documents, Programs, etc. 
  7. Downloaded Shock Aero 3D to mimics the task-switching effects of Exposé and Shock 4Way 3D to mimic the virtual desktops of Spaces. There’s no real clone of Mac Exposé, unfortunately – aw, I miss fn+F9/F11-ing.

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Apparently Asus makes 10-cell battery for the Eee PC and am tempted to get it when this 6-cell batterydies. That’s like what, 7-9 hours of battery life on a single charge? I could deal with it looking like a hammerhead netbook. Sharks are cool.

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