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Dell Inspiron Mini 9 3G – Review

Connectivity and Storage

The Mini 9 has the usual notebook connectivity options, WiFi b/g and 10/100 Ethernet, along with Bluetooth v2.0, 3 USB ports and a memory card. The USB ports are far enough apart that they can all be used at once with the exception of the port next to the VGA port. If a VGA cable is being used, the only things that will fit in the USB port would be a cable as the screws on the VGA cable crowd it a bit. There’s also a 3.5mm stereo headphone and a microphone input.

The onboard SSD is fine for everyday kinds of things and after installing Windows XP there’s about 10.5Gb left from the empty 14.3Gb. The Mini 9’s are easily upgradeable too. To be honest you probably won’t be storing much on the Mini 9, if nothing else simply from a security point-of-view in case you leave it in Starbucks. It also comes with a account which you can use to store any stuff you need to access all the time. There’s also an SD card slot that reads MMC and Memory sticks as well as SDHC cards. Unfortunately the Dell doesn’t have the dual SD card slots that the Acer Aspire One does which allows you to extend the storage and retain the card slot.

dellmini9 leftside

The Bluetooth uses a WIDCOMM stack and it worked very well, I managed to pair the Mini 9 to a Bluetooth keyboard, stereo headset and an iMac all without any troubles. I used the headset with Skype and could move around the room and chat with no problems and I transferred files easily between the Mac and the Dell.

The Mini 9 Bluetooth stack supports the Audio (stereo and headset), Imaging, Printer, PIM Sync, File Transfer, Item Transfer, Dialup Networking, Network Access and Serial Port profiles. Only one profile could be used at a time though so no keyboard and headset simultaneously for example.

dellmini9 sim

The Mini 9’s connectivity pièce-de-resistance is the built-in HSDPA mobile broadband card accessible by removing the battery. There’s a hidden SIM slot in there as well. The Vodafone connection software is easy to use and helps with the usual upload and download speeds, volumes of data used and signal strength. You can also send and receive SMS directly using the software. The HSDPA worked very well driving around even at speeds of 80km/h and I rarely had less than 3 bars of signal strength. I was even able to Skype with video at those speeds and before you ask, no I wasn’t driving.

Another great feature is that you don’t need any external equipment to use VoIP on the Mini 9, it has a built-in 1.3Mpixel webcam and a good quality hidden microphone. The webcam was the usual quality but handled indoor and outdoor conditions well and has the obligatory LED indicator to tell you when it’s on. The speakers were fine for VoIP but I didn’t use them much for music or video as they’re quite tinny and annoy after a while. They’re in a great spot though, directly under the screen. The Mini 9 comes with Dell video calling software pre-installed and a webcam application for making avatars and silly effects. I highly recommend the webcam/mic if it’s a choice in your locality.

dellmini9 mic

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  • Thanks for the clear, informative review. No jargon and great real-world trials of how a mini PC would actually be used.

  • No problems Ted, that's exactly what I set out to do.
    Cheers for noticing! :)

  • Great review, thanks! I'm considering one of these myself and yours is the most useful review I've read. Very helpful in deciding on the options for this little guy. BTW, I am a Dell employee, at corp. HQ in Round Rock. Thanks for your comments!

    • Heh, nice one Scott. And a pretty cool product by the sounds of it. :)

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