Living with the Dell Mini

“Honey, can I have one”  I said to my sweetie in my firm, yet begging voice,  when the Dell Mini was available.  I was looking at the eeePC, but it was too flimsy for me (my latitude has a missing “4” key. I was able to put $250 in Amex points to it, so it was a good investment.

If you are a salesperson who needs to use Salesforce.com or SugarCRM on the road, then a Dell Mini will be a godsend. It’s small enough to avoid the “coach seat crush” and fit nicely on your plane’s tray table, and it has a very good battery life.

I went Windows. Much as I like Linux, (most of my servers are Linux), I chose to go with XP  because this is a work machine, and I don’t have to worry about working with my work applications.

The keyboard is nice sized. I had a bit of trouble touch-typing with it because some of the keys are smaller and placed in unique areas, but after a couple of weeks usage, I’m hitting the apostrophe key with my thumb,  and think I can type the longest of messages without adding an additional keyboard. When I do feel like  stretching out, I can always add a keyboard.

The Dell Mini is not without drawbacks, or rather the bloatware that we use every day isn’t optimal for the Mini. The memory and drive space on the Mini are limited through dell at 16 gigs of SD Drive space, and 1 gig of RAM.  Drive compression is on by default, something you’ll notice if you’re running Outlook. Good thing that Dell didn’t put Vista on this thing.

Dell ships the mini with a cdrom install disk, and the suggested way to do the restore is with a USB CD drive. They really should have put that stuff on a bootable USB drive.

This is the first time since EVDO modems that I can say a piece of technology is going to improve how a salesperson works.

I think a whole cottage industry could be built around making thinner and specialized apps for the Mini. I’d love to see a lightweight Outlook compatible app that worked on the desktop. Maybe with Google Gears or something 🙂

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