Thanks for the info. I didn't have the same experience, but with products like these, there is always some variance.
For taking apart the mini 12, I actually had Dell tech support walk me through that if you can believe it. Perhaps they thought I was highly technical. All I had was a question about their guides, but they seemed to understand the process fully.
Here is the short guide...
Remove the battery. Flip the unit over and hold down the power button. Now it is statically discharged.
Loosen all of the screws on the bottom. Do not unscrew them completely.
Open the monitor as far as possible (don't force it though). Pry off the cover closest to the screen (the one that says mini). Use a broad, object to pry it... e.g. not a screwdriver, this is thin plastic.
Unscrew the keyboard and carefully move it. Remove all of the little wires from the tracks and then the cords holding them by their connector and not their wire. This includes the two closest to you near where the spacebar would be. The hardest to get off are the antenna cords. Be very careful with these as you are more likely to damage the card than the connectors by being too forceful.
Very, very carefully loosen the palmrest (the silver plastic w/the touchpad) around the edges starting from the closest to the screen (and most delicate) part. Make sure this is totally disconnected before going further as this thing is very thin plastic, reminiscent of the body of other mini-laptops from the early 2000s that were easily wrecked. A new one costs $30-$40, so it is not the end of the world, but be careful anyway.
Now you should be able to disconnect the keyboard entirely and access the hard disk. Swap it out! I would personally recommend an SLC SSD
such as the mtron, but I see this site is sponsored by runcore, so that should work fine. There is a speed difference, but the speed difference between a runcore and mtron is not as great as either compared to a slowpoke mechanical hard disk.
Putting it back together is pretty easy as long as you didn't go any further than swapping the disk. Take care when re-inserting the plugs and the thin plastic parts. Where plugs should go should be fairly obvious. It recommends you map everything... but you'd have to be pretty crazy not to figure out where things go. The cords are exactly the right length to go into the right cord and in the bottom part if you plug one thing in before the other, the other won't go in... so it is all pretty intuitive.
I have been using the mini 12 for quite a while and still am not disappointed with the product. I am a network administrator and programmer by trade, so I work with some pretty beefy computers. At work, my main desktop is a quad-xeon with 8gb of ram. I find it silly how kids talk about the mini 12 being too slow or not having enough support or whatever their complaint is. It gets up to 6 hours of use, has bluetooth, can play videos, even some streaming with boxee, and only costs $300-$400 depending on options... I mean, what do people want? I have no idea. They compare it to the other computer that they have... if I compared it to some of the servers I run, I could say hey the mini 12 can't serve 100 thin clients, but that is not its purpose.
Oh, and I agree that the dell guides are terse. My original question to dell was about what do they mean by x in their guide. The most difficult plugs are the wireless ones. I have a lot of practice with wireless plugs, so I'd recommend a first timer take great care with those. I was tempted to solder on screw-on/off connectors when I had the system open to avoid breaking the card.