Angry Robot

Meet Junior, My New Hackintosh Dell Mini 10v

Yes, it works. The guide is good. A couple things I ran into: if your Mini has trouble waking from sleep, reboot it, press F2 to get into the BIOS settings and make sure “USB BIOS Legacy Support” is disabled. More details here. I also ran into problems with the bluetooth – it was causing the system to hang when looking for WiFi access points after waking from sleep. I’ve disabled it until I can find a solution. And the shitty trackpad is indeed shitty. The updated driver mentioned on Gizmodo fixes its jumpiness, but your real saviour is the handy “Trackpad” system preference that NetbookInstaller threw in there, which lets you tap to click, two finger scroll, etc. Also, I had problems with bluetooth/wifi until I updated to 10.6.1 (but AVOID 10.6.2 as of this writing – see below!)

I’ve been a user of Mac notebooks for many, many years. I have fond memories of many of them (not so much the Mac Portable thatwas a hand-me-down from my grandmother). Perhaps my favourite was the 12” PowerBook – light, small, yet a powerful computer in its day; I cut a film on that thing. I love my current 15” MacBook Pro, but the 5.x pounds is a lot more to carry around than you might think (I’d make a terrible soldier).

Apple simply won’t sell you something in the Netbook category (which we might call small, cheap subnotebooks, generally $300 – $500). The closest you will get is the MacBook Air, which at $1600 is too much. We wants it, but still.

Your $300 at certainly doesn’t buy you an Air equivalent. Its power might be impressive if you travel back in time to 2004. The 1.6 gHz single core Atom proc chokes on HD video, and 1 gig of RAM isn’t a whole lot these days. The keyboard is 90% of a real keyboard, the trackpad is poor, the 10” pushes the limits of usability, you’ll be out in the cold when it comes to tech support – and you have to look at a Dell logo below your screen. Sheesh.

But for the bulk of one’s computing, for surfing, email, writing, some web design, this thing is perfectly capable. And it is SMALL. I can carry it and my SLR with no problem. (That’s the arts-nerd equivalent of armed to the teeth.) Six hours of battery is nothing to argue with, either. It’s a hell of a lot of computer for not a lot of scratch. You should get one. The pics on the innernette don’t often express the size well, so here’s a snap I took:


A parting thought. As I said, the 10” screen is a challenge. It’s not insurmountable, but you kind of have to have only one thing happening on screen at a time, you try to minimize app chrome, etc. In short, I can see that if Apple was looking into netbooks, they would have wanted to make fundamental changes to the way the OS works. A modified iPhone OS X would almost be the way to go. So I wonder if the rumoured Apple tablet had its roots in netbooks. Let’s just hope they don’t do that software keyboard shit again.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there’s a big thing going down about whether 10.6.2, the latest version of Snow Leopard, works on Atom-based netbooks like the 10v. Sounds like if you use software update to install it, you’ll be screwed, but there “are possible fixes”: I’m not personally in a huge rush – 10.6.2 doesn’t make your computer turn into a unicorn or anything.