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back to article Dell Inspiron Mini 9 with Vodafone HSDPA

Dell may be late to the netbook party, but it's turned up with something very fashionable on its arm to make up: the Inspiron Mini 9, bulging in all the right places with HSDPA 3G mobile broadband goodness. Dell_mini_inspiron_02 Dell's Inspiron Mini 9: now with HSDPA, courtesy of Vodafone Unlike the Advent 4213 we reviewed …

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Anyone know...

...what model 3G card this uses? I merely ask, because some of their internal cards are available via their parts store.

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How do they get away with this crap?

Look, you can get the 3GB deal with Voda for just £15 a month with a free dongle, so, with the same deal at double that (£30), how the hell is that a FREE Netbook?

I make it £15 * 24 months, so the Dell is costing you £360!!!!

Just buy the thing off Dell and get the broadband that suits YOU, plus with a dongle you can put that on the end of a long USB cable for difficult reception areas......I tried an Advent 4213 and it went back as it quickly became obvious that built in 3G was not the big deal it first seems.

Kev

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Linux

@Nick Palmer

I was thinking exactly the same thing, especially with regard to *nix compatibilty...but then I saw how the Advent 4213 stacks up compared to it, and I had another think.

Tricky choice methinks.

Steven R

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UK mobile broadband

WOW mobile broadband is pretty pricey in the UK.

I'e got a 12month contract with 3 Ireland €19.99 per month ~£15 and its 10GB, HSDPA.

Although mobile broadband is definitely no substitute for a fixed line. Way too bursty, laggy and flaky to be used as a replacement.

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You can get this cheaper

The 3G card is a Dell Wireless 5530 HSPA Mini-Card

I bought one of these last week and The Reg missed the trick of buying it though the business contract. I paid £250 upfront for the device and entered a 12 month contact at £15 a month, so this is a total of £430. Not only that but the data rates are more generous than the private contracts so why bother to use them??? Check them out for yourselves.

The Ubuntu 10.4 Linux O/S is available on the Dell site should you wish to install that instead but I am not sure if that has the HSPA 3G drivers as part of it. I will try at the weekend once my external DVD turns up. The Vodafone betawine web site has beta Linux drivers on there for other Vodafone 3G cards so I am sure this one will apear soon. If not someone on the Ubuntu forums managed to get the Dell HSPA card running and was kind enough to share how to do it.

There are also a few guides out there on how to get Mac OS X running on this baby!

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@ nick (plus complaint)

No point adding an internal 3G card as if you get a Mini 9 from Dell it doesn't have the aerial built into the screen! I even asked Dell for 100 of these with the aerial in the screen (with or without HSDPA cards) but they wouldn't entertain it. Dell's exclusive deal with Vodafone prevents them selling their own kit. Madness!!

P.S. Obviously USB modems are an option. But not one I'd entertain

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Anonymous Coward

Silent?

Hmm the 4123 has a silent mode??? what on earth can be too noisey in one of these? We have a few of these in the office to support customers and quite like the device, the card is indeed a 5530 mini card in the unit.

I do like the fact that these netbooks have literally no moving parts so I imagine (providing the SSD's are reliable) that after 2 years of use the unit won't be clogged up with dust that can screw up fans and clooing as this uses passive cooling.

They do seem to be very popular for customers, and compared to other 3g modems like usb modems we don't see many calls coming in from customers with problems (mainly because the thing is set up ready to go out the box)

The lack of F11 and F12 keys comes as a shock to some people especially as F11 is the full screen option in web browsers which these small resolutions really could do with, but the user has the option of using emulation software to switch F keys round or they can use on screen keyboard in windows (not ieal when in full screen!)

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Madness.

An XP Dell Mini 9 = £300.

So the 1GB usage p.m. 3G mobile broadband element is costing either £300 over 24 months with the £25 p.m. "deal". That comes in at either £12.50 p.m. (or £130 over 12 months with the business contract that Hoops mentions, which reduces it slightly, to £10.83 p.m.).

3 and T-Mobile both do better USB dongle deals than that, and on shorter contracts than 2 years, too. And if you're already with 3, you can get 1GB p.m. for £5.

Vodafone must be throwing a fair few quid at Dell in order to offer the, er, "exclusive offer" of paying £50 - £150 more *and* being locked in for an extra six months compared to an upfront purchase from Dell and a 3G dongle deal from someone else?

Madness, non?

Furthermore, why do El Reg not make more of a point of exposing these "deals" that the networks periodically try to punt on to us, as the duds they really are?

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Why no metric for battery life using 3g?

Surely the whole point of integrated 3g is that you can use the thing where mains power and wifi are unavailable. Why does the review not give ANY indication of battery life when running over the 3g connection?

I currently use a 3g usb dongle, do these 3g integrated netbooks offer better battery performance or not?

Instead of covering the angles that might make the review a bit more useful and interesting you instead do yet another generic netbook review. Whilst in whine mode: Being that so many of these machines are using the same 1.6ghz atom processor how come there's these differences in CPU performance?

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Dell 5530 supports GPS

It's worth mentioning that the 3G chipset used in this laptop also supports GPS. But it doesn't work out of the box - you have to send a few AT commands to the modem first. If you follow the guide at the following forum, you get an NMEA compliant GPS as a serial device.

http://www.nabble.com/X301-Ericsson-Modul-f3507g-AT-Command-reference-td20152955.html

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Anonymous Coward

@Silent

AC: "Hmm the 4123 has a silent mode??? what on earth can be too noisey in one of these?"

Sometimes any noise is too noisy in a quiet enviroment - and I would like to use one to do audio newsletters. The EEE 900's screen whined until a BIOS update was provided.

AFAIK the Dell is the only Netbook that is fanless. The EEE 900 which sounds like an angry mosquito; the Acer Aspire One is less intrusive.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re. 'silent' Advent 4213

As per Register Hardware's review of the Advent 4213:

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/10/20/review_netbook_advent_4213/

The 4213's so-called 'silent' mode isn't - it just undeclocks the CPU which may or may not, depending on processor load, make the fan run more quietly.

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Unhappy

Avoid

There is no space on the motherboard. The Mini 9 runs hot like most netbooks but there is no internal fan. I've had my system board replaced twice in one month. First time the card reader died, the second time the SSD burned, literally burned. A note from the tech engineer who repaired it stated that I shouldn't run the Mini 9 plugged in for longer than two or three hours due to the overheating issue, even less if running wi-fi. As a third-party repair outfit contracted by Dell (Flextronics) he's dealt with a number of overheated Mini 9s and filed reports with Dell.

Needless to say I returned the thing disappointed.

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Coat

@W

"Furthermore, why do El Reg not make more of a point of exposing these "deals" that the networks periodically try to punt on to us, as the duds they really are?"

Because if they were honest and trashed the product, no one would send them shit to review anymore. I am surprised people think that el reg is some bastion of neutrality. They are a business after all. Not that I like it, just take what they say with a grain of salt.

salt shaker in the pocket....

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