Monday, October 06, 2008

The Mini 9 from Vodafone

So as I've mentioned before Dell's new netbook, the Inspiron mini 9, is going to be available for free with an 18 month mobile broadband contract on Vodafone here in the UK.

The launch date is the 13th of October, but the netbooks have already started to arrive at Vodafone's offices in Newbury. Disappointingly it looks like the rumours were correct, and I won't be able to just install a WWAN card in the off-the-shelf mini 9 which I picked up a couple of weeks ago.

Netbooks causing a stir at the Vodafone offices...
Posted to Flickr by jonmulholland.

Perhaps I should grab another from Vodafone, and then install Mac OSX on my current mini 9?

The mini 9 running OSX

Tempting, but I'd really like to see how integrated the WWAN is into Windows before signing up for an 18 month contract. Or, thinking about it, whether anyone can get Vodafone's card to work under OSX if it comes to that. One of the things that seriously put me off the HSDPA USB dongle I had on loan from 3 was the hassle involved in actually using it...

Update: Dean Bubley has a cost analysis of Vodafone's offer, comparing it against an off-the-shelf mini direct from Dell with a 3G dongle. To cut a long story short it's more expensive, which at least to me, isn't exactly unexpected. You're paying, or at least being charged, for the extra convenience of having things built-in rather than having to carry around extra "stuff". Essentially you're paying an early-adopter premium.

I must admit I'm still very disappointed that I was unable to specify a vanilla 3G module when I bought my mini 9 directly from Dell. To be honest I wouldn't even mind having to post-purchase a WWAN card from Dell's co-marketing partner, in this case Vodafone, and slot it into my mini myself. However if the off-the-shelf mini's really are lacking the internal antenna infrastructure needed to support the card, that's probably a non-starter. Oh well...