Meet Minnie

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This is Minnie, our Dell Inspiron 910 Mini “netbook” that’s the newest addition to our computer family. As the pictures show, she’s a lot smaller than my ThinkPad X61 Tablet. She shipped with 1 GB of RAM and a 16 GB Flash hard drive. She’s running Windows XP Home, Microsoft Office 2007, Skype, a number of media players, and a few other programs. She’s got a built-in webcam and a bunch of ports and jacks around the edges.

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Like any family member, she’s not perfect. Her small keyboard’s not the greatest. The function keys are the same keys as ASDFGHJKL; and the apostrophe’s way down in the bottom row. Her speakers are a little anemic. Occasionally she’s a little pokey, which is to be expected with a netbook.

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All in all, however, my kids and I like her a lot. She weighs just over 2 pounds, measures about 9 in (23 cm) by 6.75 in (17 cm), and has at least a 3–hour battery life. She’s light, extremely portable, and boots up very quickly. I’ve remapped the keyboard slightly and also did a BIOS upgrade that added F11 and F12 functionality. I upgraded her RAM to 2 GB, which was extremely easy to do and boosted her performance a bit. She’s a sleek little machine, particularly for Internet browsing and cloud computing.

Many people are touting netbooks as possibilities for 1:1 laptop initiatives in K-12 schools. Having now used Minnie for a few weeks, I think netbooks might work pretty well in that role, particularly as their functionality improves a bit over the next year or so.

Gloria, our GPS unit, is happy to have a friend in the house…

6 Responses to “Meet Minnie”

  1. I’ve been running Ubuntu full-time on an Eee PC 900 for two months now. The keyboard still hasn’t grown on me, and if I need to get some serious typing done, I use my wife’s Macbook. Other than the keyboard, I’m OK with it being my main computer.

    The price point, combined with portability, make these things perfect for mobile laps in schools. It’ll be interesting to see if the rumors of Windows 7’s being tuned to the netbook-breed come true.

  2. I’ve been using a Dell Mini 9 for a couple of months now, configured as you have described with 1 GB Ram and 16 GB drive. I carry it just about everywhere and find it to be a great portable device.

    I haven’t tried loading MS Office on it yet. How is that working for you? I’m using Google Docs and have installed Google Gears so I can use it off-line. That gives me at least one Office-compatible option that doesn’t take up a huge footprint.

  3. Going digital with our books…
    2 levels of questions:
    1. can districts consider textbooks in digital format? (Instead of print based)
    2. what IS the definition of textbook, then it can be charged (definition of textbook meets both- http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/textbook , is there a need to have a waiver… is it in the state statue for textbook fees?

    Literally, a computer can be a textbook… 1:1? With netbooks? Kindle? Computer? Can the content be loaded ON a machine… as long as we are passing on the ‘Content’ to the parents and students

    Curriculum referring to standards and direction to teach…
    $100/year textbooks—use towards technology
    Is this where we want to go? And where we want to position ourselves?

    Does this become a Focused Strategy for K-12 education? or the direction for 21st Century Learning?

  4. We are considering the minis for 1:1 and have played with the eeepc for about a year. I too run it on Linux and find it great for most things. The down side is the screen size on mine which made it very hard to edit presentation slides.
    The new minis see.m to have solved this problem but I am still torn about the 1:1 usage of minis. I am sort of leaning toward using minis in K-5 and full size in 6-8… but there is a lot to be said about the small foorprint on a student desk.

    Our students do use a fair amount of simple media apps like photo story, voice thread etc. I would sure love to know what others think. What are the limitations of the mini in the classroom?

  5. Ande, You and I posted at the same time so now I feel compelled to comment again…
    You are asking really important questions…

    I have a new Kindle arriving this week and I can’t wait…The first thing I thought when I learned about the Kindle is how long will it be before these become the way we do textbooks…

    We have been moving away from textbook dependent teaching for several years and my staff builds resources around our State standards and many of these resources are electronic…

    So I like your question…what is a textbook?

  6. I’m vacillating between the Dell inspiron 910 and the Acer Aspire One.

    The Dell is said to have an instant on feature that could make the difference for me. I assume that’s Linux on the motherboard, perhaps with Firefox easily available as part of the instant on. If that’s the case, I’d love it. Instant on with Firefox would suit me most of the time, and I’d boot into XP on http://www.batterygoshop.co.uk/dell/dell-inspiron-910-laptop-all-8.9-inch-series–battery.htm those rare occasions that I need Windows.

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