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.
Post Your CommentPlease log in or sign up to comment.
View All Comments
jrinco11 - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - linkfor those interested in how it is w/XP, I wrote a bit about it here http://www.jrin.net/2008_09_25/dell-inspiron-mini-...">http://www.jrin.net/2008_09_25/dell-inspiron-mini-...
in my opinion, it matches the acer aspire one except for it's better battery life and webcam (in low light), but the keyboard layout kinda sucks
goobersnotch - Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - linkI got my inspiron mini yesterday. 16 gig ssd version. it had 1 gig of ram but i swapped in a 1 gig ram stick (should've ordered 512 megs and saved $25). with webcam and bluetooth it came to $430 after an employee discount coupon.
my thoughts? i love the system. it is a lot faster than the acer aspire one that i played around with at circuit city (but granted that was the low end 4 gig ssd linux version). it takes 20 seconds to boot up and comes out of sleep mode in 3-4 seconds. the acer takes 30 seconds to come out of sleep mode (and on linux no less).
The keyboard? well due to the strange way i type, typing letters on my left hand is flawless, words that primarily rest on the left side i type fast and without typoes. right hand side on the other hand is a disaster. i have trouble getting used to anything that requires the right pinky other than the enter key. and i have trouble hitting the o and p keys. i hate where the ' key as well, as i have to pause and consciously find it in order to use it.
however i feel like i can get used to it. after all, i'm not using this thing for anything other than web browsing, including working on docs in google docs. the hard drive space is a nonfactor, i still have 11 gigs out of 16 free and i don't see myself using much more since any local docs/images/music/etc that i download i am putting on a 16 gig sd card and most of my important docs are online on my box.net storage acct and in google docs. and my email is done in gmail because its way more convenient than using a local email client.
no 3g? well I didn't want to pay $50 a month for slow internet anywhere, anyway. there's tons of wireless hotspots in austin.
I would also recommend that anyone who gets a mini to put 2 gigs of ram in there, as it seems to considerably help in the # of apps you can run, or browser windows you can open.
Overall, i love this system and dont regret paying extra for it when i could have gotten a cheaper, but inferior, acer aspire or asus eeepc.
goobersnotch - Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - linkwhoops, in the first sentence, meant to say that i swapped a 2 gig ram stick in. it was only $46 from crucial.com
DeadpanScience - Saturday, September 13, 2008 - linkI't looks really nice. 8.9 inch screen, LED backlighting, convertible tablet mode, all for $699. Plus none of the reviews from laptop mag/umpcportal have really gone in-depth with their reviews. Give me some numbers please!
J Beck - Sunday, September 7, 2008 - linkNice review, well done!! As others suggested, you ought to look at the Acer Aspire One. I have the Atom processor, XP, 120GB HDD, 1GB "150" model, for the same $349. It is killer. The only limitation is battery life as I have the 3 cell version and get only about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. But, I rarely use it "unplugged" anyway and a 6 cell battery is available. It lacks built-in Bluetooth, but a tiny Kensington Bluetooth usb dongle took care of that and with 3 usb ports, no worries.
I can touch type very easily with no adjustment or learning curve and I am 6' with fairly large hands. The keys are all in the right places (it has regular punctuation and "F" keys and with great key sizes (especially the right hand "enter" and "shift" keys being larger as with full size keyboards). The touchpad has this amazing function. In addition to scrolling (along the right edge of the touchpad), you can zoom using touch strokes like the iPhone and Mac Air.
The 120GB drive makes this really usable for the long run. I can't imagine 4GB, 8GB or even 16GB. My iTunes library alone would almost use any of those that. The screen is a backlit LED screen and it is super at the same resolution as the Dell. The build is as good as my newly acquired Dell XPS M1330.
I thought this was going to be a toy or for really occasional use as this review sort of suggests the netbook category "must be". But, when I started using it, I found I can put everything I do on it and virtually carry my office anywhere around my house, my office or, for that matter around the world. The 120GB (with 2 memory card slots to boot!!) allows me to do that and not worry about a connection to the web or the security issues of "Cloud computing".
kenbx84 - Friday, September 12, 2008 - linkSorry but this review is all wrong on prices. EEE PC 901 is now $499 with more bells and whistles and the EEE PC 1000H is $449 now with a lot better specs.
ed21x - Sunday, September 7, 2008 - linkWith the Dell, you don't have a 1.3 mp camera, bluetooth, upgradeable SSD, or 6 cell battery that comes standard on the Asus. Once you upgrade all those options on the Dell, the prices come out to about the same. Add in $50, and you can step up to a 10'' screen and larger keyboard (Asus 1000H) which is a much better deal, and makes more sense, as that extra inch really makes the keyboard feel like a fullsize. I think comparing the prices of a low-spec'ed Dell to a full-spec'ed Asus is definitely biasing against the Asus.
Igor37 - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - linked21x wrote: "With the Dell, you don't have a 1.3 mp camera, bluetooth, upgradeable SSD, or 6 cell battery that comes standard on the Asus. Once you upgrade all those options on the Dell, the prices come out to about the same."
Personally, I like having the option, since I don't need Bluetooth or the camera, and could care less about upgrading the RAM or having a larger battery.
Pixy - Friday, September 5, 2008 - linkDespite the recent improvement I still like the design of the HP Mini-Note.
I am still waiting for the Netbook market to mature before I casting aside my Sony SZ. Hopefully the internal hardware will improve enough for a fanless version which produces little heat to come out soon. Two things I hate most about laptops: heat and noise!
I wonder whether Nvidia could have an advantage here because of their CUDA concept. Basically, it would create a Netbook with superb graphics capabilities and is able to run simple program, which is what the average consumer needs anyway.
Intel and VIA, hurry up with the new chips. AMD... keep trying... and hopefully you can surprise me.
weihlmus - Friday, September 5, 2008 - linkdell already tried the fanless approach on the latitude X1 and for all the whole system was only using 10W or so (no battery) according to my power meter it still got feindishly hot after a few hours use - theres nothing worse than trying to type on a small format laptop with sweaty fingers!
also when reviewing netbooks can you compare the power adapters? its one think having a 1 kilo netbook but then having the best part of a kilo of power adapter and leads to carry around is another... sureley the atom laptops can run from a wall wart not a standard 60W laptop power pack?!