Trying a Dell Mini instead of my MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by AllieNeko, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. AllieNeko macrumors 65816

    Sep 25, 2003
    Hi, I give a lot of people in real life buying advice, and I normally lean towards Macs - but the cost is a high barrier of entry to most people. I just got a Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 yesterday... and I'm doing the unthinkable - using it instead of my MacBook Pro for a week!

    Anyways, do you think you could do this? Why or why not? This is day one, and I don't know how much I'll miss the MacBook. Not too much I suspect for daily use. YouTube doesn't play as smoothly. That's really the only downside for DAILY use (obviously I can't do my graphics and stuff for my site this week... since they're all in Adobe CS on the Mac).

    This machine is really lightweight, lasts a long time on the battery, is designed well, and you can get three for the cost of a MacBook Pro. It took some out of the box setup. It came with a horridly nasty version of Windows (7 Starter). But after a few hours to wipe the drive, get Ubuntu up and running on it and some driver issues figured out, I have a cheap computer with a really well-designed OS, convenient form factor, quiet (it's fanless), and easy to carry around...

    Do you think I'll feel the same in a week of daily use?
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Using one computer instead of another. What a novel concept. :rolleyes:
  3. Christina1971 macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2007
    "Anyways, do you think you could do this? "

    Yes. I do it now. I use a Windows machine at work at a Mac at home. I haven't noticed any tremors or memory loss yet. :) So I think I'd be fine using a Windows machine at home, too; I'd just prefer not to.

    Computers are tools. You use whatever tool works best for you. If the benefits of a Dell running Ubuntu work for you, then...there you go.

    Just to expand this discussion -- you know, I think those of us who use Macs sometimes encourage this way of thinking. Instead of perceiving computers as tools where you might prefer one tool over another (but they both can do the job), we have invested too much of our personal identity in this choice. And then that leads to people saying "could you switch to Dell for a week???" as if that would be a true hardship. Of course I could. Truth is, I personally could probably go without a computer entirely for a week, too.

    I could never imagine someone saying "I drive a Toyota...but I'm planning to switch to a Chevy for a week. Do you think you can do this this?" That's because we understand that though there may be differences of preference, a car is basically a car.

    So, while I understand Miles' eye-rolling comment above (though it was snarky) maybe we in the Mac community are partially to blame for this.
  4. AllieNeko thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 25, 2003
    LOL@ both of you but look a little closer. A Dell *mini* - this is not some high end system decked out with everything my MBP has. This is, basically, a children's toy (the price is even about the same as a Nintendo DSi + like 5 or 6 games to make it actually playable...).

    It's not a Windows 7 Home Premium powerhouse decked out with all the bells and whistles. It came with Windows 7 Starter, which you can't even change the desktop background on! Ubuntu is much nicer...

    This is more a question of how much computer do you really *need* to get your day to day life done? Obviously, no video editing here. No high-level graphic design. But... what else am I really missing out on? That I do daily?

    So far, the only thing I've found is choppy YouTube performance (HTML5 + WebM should help that a lot in the coming months)... seriously. Choppy YouTube is it. Ubuntu even has some great painting software for more play things with my Wacom tablet, and everything just kinda works out of the box other than wireless (that was a bit annoying as it offered me two drivers, the first one I tried worked but caused crashes). Even my Alltel 3G card, which was a pain to get working on my Mac and has issues... just kinda works in Ubuntu. No software, no fiddling. Just plug it in and click new 3G connection. It even knew it was an Alltel card, everything.

    Which brings me back to - I love my Mac. But when I travel, the Dell is coming with me. Even more relevant - I *need* my Mac for some of the work I do (though not by any means every day). But how many people do we say (I do it too) "you should get a Mac" to really get any benefit from a Mac?
  5. daze macrumors 6502


    Mar 11, 2006
    San Jose, California
    I own a MacBook Pro 15" Core i7 w/4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and a Acer 1810TZ (Timeline Series) 11.6" Core2Duo 1.4GHz w/4GB RAM, Windows 7 Home Premium. The truth is, for what I do, the majority of it is using Firefox/Chrome, some emulation software for Commodore/Atari, iTunes, and watching high def videos. Both computers work just fine for this, and there is no choppiness on YouTube which is because the Acer doesn't use the ultra slow Atom processor.

    So while all the above works, I do worry a little about getting viruses -- but not all that much because I tend to know what web sites I go to and don't download untrusted software. However, when my wife is using the Acer, I do worry about getting virus infections from websites! Come to think of it, she misses not having access to our iPhoto library on the PC -- but I can live without it -- we were thinking of switching to Flickr but that would take ages to upload our 30GB of Photos and tagging everything. Apart from that, everything else is more or less equal on the Mac/PC -- relatively speaking and without considering inherent OS and seemingly subjective differences.

    I don't consider using a Mac as a form of prestige or as holier-than-thou factor. But I suspect many people do.
  6. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    I switched from a MacBook (Late 06) to an Asus EEE PC netbook. The netbook was cheap (less than $400). Its smaller and lighter than the MB and has an LED display. That is about it for advantages. The MB had a much bigger screen, the 1024X600 of the netbook is just too small. The keys are too close together, even for a 92% keyboard, and I make more typing mistakes because of this. Windows 7 itself is nice (I have Home Premium) but the display driver keeps resetting itself. Battery life is no better than the MB. The hardware feels cheaper. All in all, its OK as a traveling companion but I would rather have my MB for everyday use. Too bad I sold it. :(
  7. Christina1971 macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2007

    Okay, so it's a Dell *mini*. I don't know if it's all that outrageous to state that yes, for basic, everyday tasks, a basic, everyday computer is functional. Lots of people have known this for a while, which is why netbooks have a market.

    Maybe the misperception was starting from the idea that a Dell *mini* was going to offer a dramatically different operating experience on basic, everyday tasks. Did you think it was going to catch on fire or something? That it wouldn't be able to browse the web or send emails? That you wouldn't be able to type a simple word document? That you don't spend all day, every day, doing high-end video production?

    You sound like you know a lot about computers (if you're able to switch operating systems) so of course you can get a Dell to do what you need it to do. You'll also be able to diagnose problems that come up, or come up with decent workarounds.

    Since I'm not an Apple evangelist, the idea of switching to a Dell *mini* is not all that crazy to me. If that size and form factor and battery life and processing power works for you, then yay.

    I like Macs a lot. That's why I'm on this board. If someone were to ask me why I like Macs, I could give them some opinions. But I'm not silly enough to think that my Mac has some kind of magical powers. It's just easier for me to use.
  8. rlav macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2009
    I have never used windows 7 starter, but I would have atleast given it a try before deleted it. At least the home premium version has some features that OS X is missing that are very nice. (areo snap for 1) Also you have to remember the way that technology is advancing that dell mini probably has better specs than a mid to high range desktop 3 years ago, which many people on this forum use daily. (OS X & windows) OS X is great but it is more of a preference than a necessity.
  9. Baycon macrumors member

    May 10, 2010
    If by "daily" stuff you mean surfing forums / youtube low-def / social medias / IMs ...sure. You can do all that on an iphone/droid too.

    However, if you are replacing a macbook pro...then the real issue comes from you not having purchased the right computer for your needs.

    If you like mac, and you need a low-powered machine, go with a mac mini. If you need portability, go with a Macbook. When you go with the MBP, it means you need the power for graphic / design / video / sound softwares. People who buy core i7 machines with 8gb of ram only to go on facebook and youtube make me a sad way :/

    Over here, I have my desktop work machine (iMac i5), my work laptop (new MBP 15" i7) and I also have a dell mini10v. Sure, the mini10v was nice and cheap...but it ends there. I'd rather photoshop on my iBook g4 than on that.
  10. macrumorsMaster macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2008
    Then you should've got a Mini 10V: you could've had the best of both worlds, MAC OS X when you travel as well!
  11. AllieNeko thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 25, 2003
    I'm not suggesting that everyone could use one of these little guys instead of their normal computers. Just that a lot of people could. I know I couldn't, I'm just trying to get through a week as an experiment to see what happens - if I can make it a week. After that, this is for going out on the town for the day when I just want web access that's better than my phone.

    To baycon, yes I mean "surfing forums / youtube low-def / social medias / IMs" - and yes, you can do it all on a phone to. But the experience on a computer, even a netbook, is much better.
  12. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    I have a Dell Mini 10v with Mac OS X installed. In my opinion, it's great for travel and fine for surfing. For simple tasks, it's light weight and battery life (with the 6-cell battery) are fantastic.

    If, on the other hand, I had to live with Windows or Ubuntu on it, I think the story would be very different. However, ever since I got my iPad, my 10v and my MacBook has just been collecting lots of dust.
  13. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Mar 20, 2004
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    My experience with Dell hardware has been both extensive and terrible. This is independent of any issues with Windows. I can see the value of a netbook, but personally I would not trust my money to Dell.
  14. AllieNeko thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 25, 2003
    The netbook is on it's way back to Amazon both for excessive freezing, even in Windows (heck the Windows installer froze completely on the first try to reinstall Windows!); and for a tiny spot/blemish in the glossy surface of the screen that I had just thought was a bit of dirt - until I went to clean it off!
  15. Nanpd macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2006
    I bought an Acer netbook during spring 2009 and I've been very happy with it. I have Microsoft Office on it and use it mainly for word processing and making Powerpoints. I use my 15' G4 Powerbook at home for iTunes and iPhoto. When I first bought the PB, I put a dent in the cover and then bought a 12'' iBook G4 from the refurb store as a beater laptop. I never could get used to the 15" as anything but a really nice looking desktop. It was simply too big to haul around all day. The iBook is my favorite and the one I use most often, but I still don't like hauling it around either--hence the netbook.
  16. dal20402 macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2006
    Sure, I could, but my productivity would go way down without my 24" external monitor and fast SSD. Not to mention I wouldn't be able to see my photos as I'm well and truly locked in to the iPhoto/Aperture world.

    Strangely enough, I just did a week-long Windows 7 experiment, although running on the same MacBook Pro I use normally. I cut it short after three days as it became clear that 1) I could do it, but 2) it was a painful adjustment for no particular benefit.

    The most remarkable difference between the platforms, IMO, is the superior attention to detail that Mac developers tend to display. I'm fine with either OS, but I'm about 8x happier with typical Mac software.
  17. jetblk328i macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2010
    I also have a dell mini. Works well at basic stuff like email, light web browsing, etc. but I would not want to edit movies or pictures on this.

    Also, If you plan on installing software from CD, get that external cd drive ready. :(
  18. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

    Oct 19, 2009
    Cedar City, Utah
    Got rid of mine because it hurt my eyes after a long period of time. OSX was nice on it, but not as nice as say a 13" Macbook.

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