Most of the new netbooks announced today are of the 10-inch variety. While the netbook concept may have started off with the smaller form factors with 7- to 9-inch screens, it seems that OEMs and/or consumers have decided that bigger is better.
As if we needed any further evidence that 9-inch netbooks were on their way out, earlier this month Dell discontinued the Mini 9, the PC maker’s first netbook. In its place, Dell introduced the Mini 10v, a lower-cost version of the Mini 10 but without high-end options such as the higher-resolution display and TV tuner. What the Mini 10v gave up in options, however, it gained in compatibility and mod-friendliness.
The Dell Mini 9 was popular amongst the Hackintosh crowd – those who load Mac OS X onto their PCs originally built for Windows or Linux – thanks its hardware compatibility with Leopard. Those who installed Mac OS X on their Mini 9s found near perfect hardware functionality with networking, audio and even webcam.
With the Mini 9 now no longer available, attention shifts to the Mini 10v, which adopts the Intel GMA 950 graphics critical for OS X compatibility (the regular Mini 10 and Mini 12 use the GMA 500, which does not work with OS X). Furthermore, the Mini 10v features a DIMM slot that will support an aftermarket memory upgrade to 2GB – something also not available on the Mini 10 or Mini 12. Getting at the DIMM slot requires disassembling most of the netbook, but it’s possible.
Early efforts at installing OS X on the Mini 10v have proved somewhat successful. Networking and video work fine, but audio and webcam are still spotty. The Mini 10v’s 1024 x 576 LCD is sometimes not enough to display a full menu (the Mini 9 was 1024 x 600), forcing users to tab through menus and hit enter blindly.
Perhaps with more time, the Dell Mini modders will be able to make the Mini 10v work with OS X as well as the netbook it replaces.