After weeks of deliberation, I’ve finally ordered a netbook! It probably won’t ship by my birthday next week, but it will hopefully arrive by the end of the month– and certainly before the 21st Century Learning @ Hong Kong Conference in September. I settled on the Dell Mini10V for several reasons, including:
- Great keyboard size and feel: It’s 92% of full size, and this is critical for me since I plan to do a lot of blogging on it at conferences and other events. Most netbook keyboards I’ve tried (including my XO Laptop) have a keyboard that would fit a child’s hands and fingers but not mine.
- Unlike the HP Mini 1000, which also has a 92% of fullsize keyboard, the Dell Mini10V does NOT require a video adapter dongle (like all Mac portables do, incidentally) to plug into an external projector / display. I’ve usually managed to remember my video dongle when I use a Macbook or Macbook Pro to present, but at least twice I’ve forgotten to bring it, and that was a BIG hassle.
- The size and weight of this netbook are just fantastic. I can’t wait to travel with this in my backpack instead of my MUCH heavier Macbook Pro. I LOVE Macs as much as ever (see below) but I really dislike lugging a heavy laptop around on my back when I’m traveling. The Macbook Air IS amazing and light, but it costs $1100 more than the Dell Mini10V I ordered.
- I was able to order mine in PURPLE. 🙂
- The prospects for Mac OS X compatibility are excellent. Note I am NOT endorsing violations of Apple’s EULA for OS X here, I’m just noting “prospects” as I’ve seen them. (I’m also not saying I’ll be making my netbook into a hackintosh.)
I ordered my Dell netbook with Ubuntu pre-installed. I have no desire to work with any variant of MS Windows unless I absolutely HAVE to (as I do frequently in our “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” project) and I’m delighted Dell offers a customized version of Ubuntu. Dell provided a nice guidance page to address comparative advantages of running Ubuntu instead of Windows XP Home.
I did make four “customizations” to my Dell Mini 10V, making it cost about $100 more than the base price:
- I upgraded to the longer lasting 6 cell battery.
- I opted for the 250 GB rather than 120 GB hard drive. (For just $15 more, how could I go wrong?!)
- I added Bluetooth.
- I ordered it in purple. (An extra $40.)
I was interested to learn, amidst my searches for Linux netbook info, that a “Ubuntu Netbook Remix” distribution is available. That Linux distro, along with many others, can actually run directly from a flash drive, so it can be “test driven” before it is installed.
Long-time readers of my blog may recall that I last dabbled seriously with Windows-based computers as possible replacements for my Mac in the fall of 2006, after I joined the AT&T education advocate team and received 3 Windows-based laptops to use: A Dell and two HPs. See my August and September 2006 posts, “Instructive experiences with WinXP and a tablet PC” and “Back on the MacBook!” for that history. Those experiences did give me good chances to use and play with several distributions of Linux, and I definitely liked Ubuntu best. Linux operating systems have matured and evolved considerably in the intervening three years, and I’m eager to experience those improvements first hand. (I acknowledge I could be running Ubuntu Linux on my Mac now, as Miguel Guhlin does, but I’ve been too addicted to Mars Edit and Skitch to consider making that change if I don’t have to for hardware / legal EULA reasons.)
At the end of July this summer, I posted a summary of my thoughts regarding netbooks, 1:1 computing, and Mac tablet / jumbo iTouch rumors in the post, “Thoughts on Macs and Netbooks.” My decision to order and start using a netbook for at least SOME of my computing needs flows from several of the ideas I shared in that post. Netbooks offer today and will continue to offer an outstanding level of functionality for CCC learning at an extremely low price, and anyone interested in educational technology can’t afford to ignore them. I am contemplating the formation of an Oklahoma consortium of open source, netbook using schools similar to the one Maine educators have created, and I’ve got to get more literate and experienced myself with Linux and netbooks in order to pursue that idea seriously.
Am I abandoning the Apple platform? Of course not! I love my Macs more than ever. Just as a traveler working or living in a foreign country should try and speak at least SOME of the language of the country s/he is visiting, however, I need to become much more fluent and conversant with Linux and netbooks than I am today. As I’ve noted previously, it’s silly to ask someone to to compare operating systems when they only “truly” know one.
My netbook adventure will begin soon, and I’m enthused! No Lenovo or HP for me, however!
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