Mac Netbook Adventures #hackintosh

 We've been needing a small laptop for use in the college ministry – a way to do data entry on campus and not be dependent on my laptop (which I use to preach) or having students bring their own computers. A netbook seemed like the perfect solution – small, long battery, etc. The only problem was that I really wanted a Mac.

I know several people who have hacked OS X onto a variety of systems so I started a bit of research. I discovered that the Dell Mini 10v is really easy to make into a Hackintosh. Last Thursday night I sat down with a 16gb USB drive, a LEGAL copy of Mac OS X Snow Leopard, and NetbookBootMaker. I followed the Gizmodo guide for installation and everything went flawlessly. 

Here's the basic details:

Total cost: $343.75 unless you need to buy a flash drive. Not too shabby for a nice little OS X laptop.

Performance has been really good for web browsing, simple word processing, etc. I will say that it doesn't play web video all that well (tested in Windows and it's equally bad). The battery life has been crazy. With active usage I'm seeing 8+ hours of battery and mixed use (surfing and letting it sit and play music) the battery lasted over 9 hours. I do want to upgrade the RAM to 2gb, but haven't gotten around to it. I'm also really spoiled by Apple trackpads – the 10v trackpad is horrible. I also wish the screen had a slightly higher resolution 1024×600 is a bit too few pixels (not a bigger screen, just more resolution).

I'm really bummed that Apple isn't offering a real netbook option. I've got an iPhone and I've got a MacBookPro. After spending the weekend using the HackBook exclusively I think Steve Jobs is wrong when he says that the iPad is the perfect device to fit between the smartphone and the laptop. The iPad fits really well into the bigger screen/eBook/video player/web surfing category, but it doesn't keep me from needing to carry my laptop around. I think there is a second gap that is filled by really small, inexpensive netbooks. I see a real need for the 10" netbook that costs under $500. The $300 netbook isn't quite good enough, there is clearly a step between the 10v and a MacBook that could be filled (slightly faster, improved graphics, more RAM). This is the PERFECT spot for an Apple netbook.

Here are some things I've done over the past several days that can't be done on an iPad:

  • answer email using a real keyboard, mouse and mail client
  • tweak a graphic using Fireworks
  • screen share to another computer
  • use BackToMyMac to share files from my MBP from a coffee shop
  • quickly switch back and forth between a google spreadsheet, a PDF file, and my email
  • use ProPresenter – it actually is decent for still background images and lyrics

Share your thoughts about netbooks.