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.


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.


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…