New Parent Tip: Travel light with a netbook

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Netbook If you are a gadget geek and Internet fiend like me, you never leave home without some type of Web device. While my iPhone is an excellent, on-the-go device that meets most of my communication, entertainment and surfing needs, it is still a challenge, and sometimes impossible,  to complete certain tasks that require heavy computation, keyboarding or editing. For example, processing loads of work e-mail; authoring documents; downloading, editing and sharing content from still and video cameras; and, lastly, writing to my blog are all tasks I find unsuitable on any Smartphone.

Whereas the iPhone is underpowered for such activities, my work laptop—a Lenovo ThinkPad T500—is absolutely overkill for personal travel. Why? It weighs over 10 pounds fully-loaded with extended batteries and power adapter. Ten pounds weighing me down while whisking through airports and Jetways with Owen in tow is not a good look.

That’s why a few weeks before Owen was born, I purchased a used Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook off eBay. The image below shows how the 3 devices compare in overall size and display real estate.

iPhone 3GS vs. Dell Inspiron Mini 9 vs. Lenovo ThinkPad T500

Once the Mini 9 arrived, I upgraded it to 2GB of memory and replaced the Windows XP Home Premium installation with Windows 7 Ultimate. It runs great and while the 8.9”, 1024×600 display and Lilliputian keyboard both take some adjustment, it is a much sleeker travel companion than the 15.4”, 1680×1050 display and full keyboard on the ThinkPad.

The Mini’s major advantages are its svelte dimensions, back saving 2.28 pounds, and zero moving parts. The absence of fans and spinning drives allows it to run completely silently. The iPhone display is 3.5”, 480×320, and its main advantage over the other two—besides being a phone—are it fits in my pocket, has a longer battery life, turns on immediately and puts my information and media at my fingertips in seconds.

While the Mini 9 has been discontinued, I find the MyDellMini fan site to be the most informative for existing owners and potential buyers of any of Dell’s netbooks. I recommend picking up the Mini 9 used on Craigslist or eBay as the newer models cannot be upgraded beyond 1GB memory.

I leave you with a photo demonstrating the space saving advantage of the Mini 9 vs. the T500. Drop me a comment if you have any questions.

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 vs. Lenovo ThinkPad T500