Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Reviewed: Refining the Netbook Marketby Anand Lal Shimpi on September 4, 2008 12:00 AM EST
- Posted in
Pricing and Availability
Dell is taking orders of the Inspiron Mini 9 models today. Like the Eee PC you can order the Mini with either Windows XP or Linux; the XP models will be shipping within the next 15 days, while the Linux versions will take closer to 30 days to make it out.
All Inspiron Mini 9 models have the same Intel Atom N270 processor (1.6GHz), 945G chipset, 802.11b/g WiFi, 512MB DDR2-533, 10/100 Ethernet, VGA out, SD/SDHC/MMC/MS card reader and 8.9” 1024 x 600 display.
The base Inspiron Mini 9 will set you back $349, that configuration comes with Ubuntu loaded on a 4GB MLC SSD. You can upgrade to an 8GB or 16GB SSD for $35 or $75 respectively.
If you want 1GB of DDR2 instead of 512MB, the upgrade costs $25. there are two camera options: a 0.3 MP and 1.2 MP version, the upgrades are $10 and $25 respectively.
If you want XP, tack another $40 onto the price. Dell will be offering a $399 XP promo for quite some time with an 8GB SSD, it's actually a bargain if you value Windows XP.
With a lower base price than the ASUS Eee PC 901, the Mini looks more attractive but you get more with the Eee PC. Let's see what happens once we tack on some upgrades:
|ASUS Eee PC 901||Dell Inspiron Mini|
|CPU||Intel Atom N270||Intel Atom N270|
|Chipset||Intel 945G||Intel 945G|
|Memory||1GB DDR2-533||1GB DDR2-533|
|SSD||4GB on motherboard + 16GB card||16GB card|
|OS||Xandros Linux||Ubuntu Linux|
If you configure the Inspiron Mini as close as possible to the Eee PC 901 you end up with a system that's got around a $100 advantage on paper. Now you can find 901s for closer to $560, and obviously with the 901 you get a bigger battery and 802.11n support, neither of which are options on the Mini, bringing me to my next point: if you buy a Mini, keep it bare.
The Inspiron Mini 9 isn't designed to be just like ASUS' Eee PC 901, Dell made some tradeoffs for very specific reasons. You don't have as large of a SSD on the Mini because Dell views this system as always being connected to the Internet. Your documents, pictures and perhaps even music will all be stored online (or on your iPod), so there's no need for mass storage on the Mini. I tend to agree with Dell's viewpoint here; in using the Mini I never once felt like I was running out of space, but I believe I was using it the way it was intended to be used - alongside other computers, not as my only machine.
You're fighting a losing battle if you're trying to outfit the Mini to be more than it is, honestly I'd give it a gig of RAM and a web cam and be done with it. If you want more functionality, performance or storage I'd suggest either looking at the Eee PC or a larger notebook. Netbooks like the Mini are very specific in their usefulness, start getting too ambitious and you're better off with a different device, otherwise you'll end up quite frustrated with your purchase.