Rob Galbraith: Dell Mini Inspiron 9 a “budget gem” for amateur photographers

2803_dell_and_streetwalker_preview.jpg

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]

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5 Responses to Rob Galbraith: Dell Mini Inspiron 9 a “budget gem” for amateur photographers

  1. devophill says:

    Ah, remember when computers were more differentiated by what you did with them? Beyond “creative types use Macs”, I mean. Atri STs were popular with musicians, I recall. (Maybe this premise is breaking down, ‘coz I can’t think of another specialized type of computer… Somebody, take the ball! Run with it!)

  2. Anonymous says:

    I can’t calibrate my Samsung NC10 – the vertical screen resolution is too small for my EyeOne to work propery. So that leaves any good photography use out…

  3. Kurt says:

    You are right about newer netbooks being a better fit. I have an Asus Aspire One: 8.9″ screen, 160GB hard disk.

  4. strider_mt2k says:

    I love my Mini 9!

    I’ve made a few special modifications of my own of course, but you should see my numbers on the Kessel Run!

  5. airshowfan says:

    I took my 700-series EEE PC on a photoshoot once. Indeed, it practically disappears inside a bag that also contains two large SLRs, two telephoto lenses, two wide zooms, and assorted accessories. I thought the EEE PC would allow me to stop juggling memory cards, and might let me edit and upload some pictures before I got home to my bigger computer… but I found the EEE PC to be almost unusable in my workflow. First of all, it didn’t have enough storage space for one day’s worth of pictures. Even worse, the tiny screen (7″, 800×480) was only slightly better than the camera LCD for looking at pictures (You can’t really tell whether you have sharp focus when seeing a picture at that low resolution), and even the simplest photo-editing tasks were also next to impossible (The menus and buttons in Photoshop and Gimp don’t fit on the screen… AND the screen levels are too bright, causing me to over-ride the histogram and end up with pictures coming out too dark). So the EEE PC ended up just dumping my pictures from the memory card to an external HD, and that was it.

    That is the curse of being an early adopter, though. Newer netbooks probably have screens that are good enough for photo editing, and they can fit one day’s worth of pictures in internal storage. (But now I’m waiting until most of them have 3G modems before I get another one. That Sony one looks like a winner, but I’ll wait a little longer to make sure).

    I do enjoy using my EEE PC on trips, though. Just not for photography stuff.

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