Have been thinking about a netbook for a while, and ended up getting a Dell Mini 9 a few days ago.   It’s a really amazing piece of hardware in a tiny package.

I ended up getting the Linux model with 32GB SDD drive, 1GB of RAM, and the Timbuk2 carrying case.  I ran Linux on it for a day or so, and then loaded Windows XP.  The eventual use for this system will be light email and web browsing, and using Coastal Explorer on my sailboat and elsewhere to plan trips.

I also added a 16GB SD card for some additional storage for charts and other data.  Even after reloading it with XP, loading all of my favorite programs and files, and then Coastal Explorer and all of my local maps, I still have ~20GB free on the main SDD drive.  I haven’t moved anything to the SD card yet.

The keyboard is quite small, but that was expected.  There are some odd key placements to accomodate the small keyboard size, but they’re workable.  The mouse touchpad is really nice.  It’s molded into the body and has a scroll area on the right hand side.

The screen is really nice – extremely easy to see and clearer than I thought it’d be.

Performance wise it’s pretty good.  I expected a bit slower response and performance because of the Atom CPU, and that is the case.  Opening multiple applications with existing things running can result in some slowness or choppiness.  It’s completely workable, however.

The system gets warm when you’re using it, which is expected from other reviews.  The battery lasts a long time even with wireless on.  So far I’ve had it up and running for just shy of 4 hours on one battery charge while doing a decent amount of surfing and such.

The best part of the whole system is how fast it resumes from hibernation/sleep, and how silent and small the whole package is.  Typically, it will resume and find the wireless network in less than 10 seconds, usually faster.  Very nice for casual use when needed, and it can be closed and placed somewhere when you’re done.  Very convenient.

Overall, I’m really happy with it and I predict it will be used for a lot of surfing and boat related work given it’s size, convenience, and battery life.  More details when I get Coastal Explorer setup with my Bluetooth interface on the boat.


  1. I have used Coastal Explorer a lot, even the new version, on the Dell Mini 9. Obviously, the biggest thing that’s an issue is the screen size, but I knew that going in. Versus a 13″ or larger laptop screen, its much smaller.CPU and RAM wise I’ve not noticed any big issues. Again, it’s a lower power system, so if you expect to be able to drag objects around on the map a bunch, or do video, it’s going to slow down.On the plus side, I have the SSD version, so it’s completely quiet, and runs for almost 4 hours on one charge. That’s helpful for being on the sailboat. It also boots really fast, and is super portable so I can take it anywhere on the boat. Since it doesn’t have any moving parts, I’m also less worried about it failing. Hope this helps!

  2. Please let me know how the experiment went with the atom chip running coastal explorerI am in Mexico now and my old laptop has blown up. There is a Lenovo here with the same chipset and I am desperate to find a replacement!Mark

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