It’s not the newest netbook on the market but at $549 with an inbuilt and unlocked 3G modem the pint-sized Mini 9 is a pretty sweet deal...
We’re a bit tardy in reporting this find but we know that people who like their Internet ‘to go’ will forgive us, because this could be the deal you’ve been waiting for.Dick Smith
is selling remaindered stock of Dell’s now-discontinued Mini 9 netbooks with inbuilt 3G – the same model offered by Vodafone with 5GB of data for $59/month – but with the modem unlocked. The price? An appealingly low $549.
Given that the modem runs at 7.2Mbps HSDPA on both the 2100MHz and 850MHz bands, this makes the Mini 9 3G a perfect way to get wireless broadband from any of Australia’s four mobile carriers, as well as resellers who offer cut-rate deals (such as Exetel’s contract-free $20 for 1GB plan).
The Mini 9’s modem (which is a mini-card manufactured by Ericsson) doesn’t support the secondary 900MHz 3G regional network of Optus and Vodafone.
However, it does have an integrated GPS receiver, so after loading the correct drivers you can turn the Mini 9 into a GPS navigation netbook with a handy 9 inch screen.
The Dick Smith units are in fact ex-Vodafone stock and still have Vodafone stickers on the box, along with Vodafone’s mobile broadband client software preloaded. Remove this, install Dell’s own WAN Manager software and you’re good to go – and to go with any carrier’s SIM card thank to the unlocked modem.
The units run Windows XP Home Edition but can be relatively easily upgraded to Windows 7 if you follow the helpful guides at MyDellMini.com
. These include tricks to boost Windows 7’s performance and ways to cut it down to size so that it leaves plenty of spare room on the Mini 9’s 16GB solid state drive.
(The Mini 9 is one of the few netbooks with a solid state drive which means it runs delightfully cool, quiet and fast, in theory even more so due to SSD-friendly features baked into Windows 7).
The Mini 9 is also a popular netbook with the ‘Hackintosh’ crowd, and MyDellMini.com includes guides for turning the Mini 9 into a ‘MacBook Mini’ by installing Mac OS X 10.6 ‘Snow Leopard’. Just don’t grab the most recent 10.6.2 update
, which doesn’t support the Atom processor used in the Mini 9 (and almost all other netbooks).