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
Bluetooth Yes Yes
WiFi 802.11b/g/n 802.11/b/g
SSD 4GB on motherboard + 16GB card 16GB card
Battery 48WHr 32WHr
Camera 1.3MP 1.3MP
OS Xandros Linux Ubuntu Linux
MSRP $599 $494

 

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.

Ubuntu The Platform: Inspiron Mini Dissected
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  • Klug - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the review.

    Maybe I misread but I could not find any info about the external PSU... How fat is it?

    I currently use a M1330 and the external PSU is a pain (big, heavy, thick cable, etc).

    Netbook is nice but when used "on the road" (ie: train, meetings, etc), it needs to be carried with its PSU. If the PSU is fat, that's bad.
    Reply
  • benlen - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    I missed this my self. An is a important information an a netbook.

    I found the answer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M37j5BnERw">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M37j5BnERw
    about one minute in.
    I am happy with the type.
    They say it is 2.6 lbs with the psu so the psu should be about 0.4 lbs.
    But I still havent found a picture on the UK psu. I hope it will be a travle type where you can change the plugs/connectors

    I am by the way selling my M1330 to only have a mini 9 and a stationary
    Reply
  • strafejumper - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    i've been researching lappys for a week trying to buy my first one.

    found one i love from lenovo 15.4" but the one problem is all 15.4" lappy's that i've been looking at seem to have the exact same florescent lcd and when i went to circuit city to look at some they all looked very dim because of the vertical viewing angle.

    Then i was in a local shop and they had a macbook air and it was totally different, many times brighter and still bright even at angles. Looking for a cheaper laptop than the macbook air now that has this good an led lcd. May have to wait a while.
    Reply
  • wvh - Thursday, September 4, 2008 - link


    Looks interesting, especially the passive cooling... But as someone who works in several countries, I think they made a mistake with their peculiar keyboard layout. It's not easy to get used to all the different international layouts, laptop- vs. full-sized keyboards, model-specific multimedia- and function-keys, and having manufacturers come up with their own proprietary layout on top of that makes their product much less appealing to me.
    Reply
  • JoshuaBuss - Thursday, September 4, 2008 - link

    nice carpet, anand! :) Reply
  • alpine18 - Thursday, September 4, 2008 - link

    The dell sounds interesting, but I'll keep my eeepc 901 for now. I love this thing.
    It is great to see so many new netbooks in the market place. When they come out with a new netbook with the dual-core Atom, I'll probably buy one.

    I differ with the article author's view on battery life and use. My eee 901 has effectively replaced my full size Gateway laptop. The thing sits at home since I got my 901, little more than a glorified portable desktop. I use my 901 all day without having to recharge, take it to meetings so I can act like I am taking notes when I am actually catching up on other work.

    For me, the deal breaker for the Dell would be the battery life and 1GB memory. I have 2GB of memory in my 901 and need the 5-8 hours of battery life. If the Dell had the same battery life as the 901 and was upgradeable to 2GB, I'd seriously be thinking about getting one.


    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Thursday, September 4, 2008 - link

    Glossy Screen? Why? So I can see what's behind me better than what I'm working on? Especially for a portable computer that just might be used outside, a reflective screen is dumb.

    I know glossy screens sell better in brick and mortar stores, but people are dumb (ooh, shiny!)

    Nice to have a choice I suppose, so those who like it can get the Dell and I can get something else. But that's my point really, I'd get something else.
    Reply
  • abakshi - Thursday, September 4, 2008 - link

    Dell seems to have done better than I expected, but I'd be curious to see how you'd compare with the HP 2133 Mini-Note in terms of build quality, keyboard, screen, etc.

    I have a Mini-Note (C7 1.6 / 2GB / 120GB 7200rpm / Vista Business), and while granted, most configs are priced higher than the average netbook, the design is awesome and it's built better than any HP/Dell/etc. laptop I've ever seen. More importantly, the keyboard's light-years ahead of the EeePC and all other netbooks I've encountered thus far, and with a nice bright 1280x768 screen, it's a pleasure to work with on the go.
    Reply
  • Roy2001 - Thursday, September 4, 2008 - link

    1. Dual core Atom.
    2. Power saveing Poulsbo chipset + HD decoding feature.
    3. Smooth HD/BD movie play back.
    4. Has at least 8GB SSD built in and a SDHC slot so I can insert a cheap 32GB SD card (some day) as 2nd HD.
    5. Has mini-HDMI output.
    5. Built-in camera should be standard.
    6. 1GB RAM should be standard.
    7. 10" LCD with 1280x800 resolution.
    8. Bluetooth built in so I can use a wireless mouse/keyboard without a dongle.

    The more I can dream is touch screen, wireless USB hub, and more...
    Reply
  • Matt Campbell - Thursday, September 4, 2008 - link

    I'm really impressed with what Dell has done with the Mini, they struck a great balance with price/features and it looks fantastic. Thanks for the suggestions - the Wind, Aspire and Lenovo S10 are on my review wish list as well. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming HP 2133 Mini-Note review. Hopefully between Anand, Jarred and I we'll cover everything eventually :) Reply

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