Dell launches Inspiron Mini 9 netbook
Dell has joined the netbook boom and is currently taking orders for its Inspiron Mini 9. However the company is already warning of delays, stating on its web site - "Please note that it may take up to 15 days for you to receive your Mini 9." At £299 the Mini 9 is not as low in price as rumours had suggested it would be. This includes a £20 delivery charge and is for the currently available configuration which includes a 16GB SSD – 4 to 16GB may be the future possible options – and loaded with Microsoft Windows XP Home SP3. Although the product page includes the familiar Dell phrases "depending on configuration" and "Choose this starter package, or from one of our recommendations below." the only options currently available are to extend the 1 year collect and return warranty to 2 years at a total cost of £328. While Dell does not make it clear, the Mini 9 will be available in a "few weeks" loaded with Ubuntu 8.04 Linux at £269 all in.
The Mini 9 is a mid-sized netbook, measuring 23 cm x 17 cm x 3 cm, with an 8.9in. 1024 x 600 pixel display and weighing 1.035 kg. Current netbooks offer display sizes ranging from 7 and 8.9 inches to 10.1 or 10.2 inches. Unusually, rather than the lower cost, matt diffusive surface, the Mini 9 display has a glossy anti-reflection surface. Like most machines in the netbook class the keyboard is too cramped for full, ten finger touch typing.
Internally the hardware is relatively high specification with an Intel Atom Processor – 1.6GHz, 512KB L2 Cache, 533MHz FSB – Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 950, Intel 965PM / GM Express chipset and 1 GB of DDR2 SDRAM. On-board power is supplied by a 4-cell 32 Watt-Hour Li-Ion battery. According to informed estimates this may allow between 3 and 4 hours of run time. There's an integrated 1.3Mpixel webcam and a single loudspeaker for audio playback. While the spec. page lists 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 as options, both appear to be built-in.
External connectivity includes 3 USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 LAN – RJ45, a 15pin VGA connector, a line out and mic in audio jacks, a 3-in-1 media card reader slot and the power connector.
Compared to its competitors, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is perhaps closest to the Acer Aspire One A150L, with Windows XP and a 120GB hard disk for £299. Or the Aspire One A150L with an 8GB SSD and Linux at £220. Asus, who kicked off the netbook boom, offer the Eee PC 901 with Windows XP and 12 GB flash at £299. Prices quoted for the non-Dell products are representative street prices.