The notoriously chromatically-sensitive Rob Galbraith has written up a review of the screens of three top-of-their-class laptops: the unibody MacBook Pro, the Lenovo W700 and the Dell Mini 9. But it's his thoughts on the Mini 9 that are most interesting: not only does he think it has a better screen than the MacBook Pro, but he's made the machine a standard part of his photographer's bag.
To have a computer this capable, that is also small enough and light enough to slip into pretty much any camera bag, it has been a workflow-altering experience. Thanks in part to the Mini 9, I've personally switched to using the Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro for light duty gear carrying. As you can see in the photo below, the diminutive Dell slips easily into this compact, narrow photo backpack and leaves plenty of room for a carry-about camera kit (the Mini 9 is on the left side of the bag in the photo on the right). Our infatuation with the Mini 9 extends to its 8.9 inch (diagonal), 1024 x 600 pixel, LED-backlit display. For a computer that starts at about US$300 in the U.S. right now, we had modest expectations. As it turns out, the display profiles well, neutrals are reasonably neutral with minimal colour shifting in whites, grays or blacks and overall colour accuracy is very good for a laptop. Overall hue accuracy, in fact, is better than the late-2008 MacBook Pro 15 inch.Ultimately, he describes the Mini 9 as a "budget gem" for amateur photographers. I wonder if we'll see this become a whole new class of netbook in the coming months or years: the photographer or video professional's netbook. That would certainly differentiate these machines from each other. A look at the evolving laptop display [Rob Galbraith]