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Summary:

As we noted last month, Dell is starting to target “digital nomads” heavily as a market. Today’s launch of the Inspiron Mini 9 shows a product aimed squarely at that market: an inexpensive, light, slick little machine optimized for on-the-go connectivity rather than heavy work.

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Details - Mozilla Firefox (Build 2008070206)As we noted last month, Dell is starting to target “digital nomads” heavily as a market. Today’s launch of the Inspiron Mini 9 shows a product aimed squarely at that market: an inexpensive, light, slick little machine optimized for on-the-go connectivity rather than heavy work.

The Mini 9 is available for order immediately, at a base price of $349 (though I suspect most interested web workers would go for options that put it in the four to five hundred dollar range). At that price, it’s practically an impulse buy (and I’ll admit to feeling impulsive myself – it might make a good tester for IE8 rendering, if you need an excuse). For that price, you get what appears to be a reasonably capable machine, though there are clearly compromises.

$349 gets you a box with an 8.9 inch 1024×600 display, an Intel Atom CPU, 512MB of RAM, and a 4GB solid state hard drive. 802.11g is standard, as is the black case – you pay extra for white, or for Bluetooth connectivity. The base price includes Ubuntu as the operating system, and this version is showing as ready for pre-order but not for ship. If you go up to $399, you get Windows XP and immediate availability, as well as an 8GB solid state drive. The top end of customization is 1GB of RAM and a 16GB SSD. The box weighs in at about 2 1/2 pounds, again depending on options.

In a move that should resonate with web workers, Dell has done a deal with online storage favorite Box.net – The Dell comes with 2GB of storage, and custom plans if you need more. That’s double the storage of the normal free Box.net account, and the 10 and 25GB plans are priced much lower than Box’s standard pricing as well.

Dell certainly isn’t the only one promoting small, easily connected boxes for the mobile worker. Nor is this by any means a computer you’d use to do offline work. But given their reach, it might end up being a “second device” for a great many web workers.

  1. Hi,
    What are your connections with Dell?
    Did you get the opportunity to test their laptop? For how long?
    Please, let us know.
    Mike D

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  2. wondering: In this case, I’m writing strictly from information that Dell has made public, either through press releases or their product site.

    As a general rule, if we’ve had hands-on time with a product, we will explicitly mention that. And we will not keep the product – the most we will do is use a temporary loaner.

    So, while I’d be happy to have the opportunity to play with the new Dell, that opportunity hasn’t come up yet.

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  3. I don’t think the Windows versions are available yet either. My info from my Dell rep is that all of these will begin shipping on 9/16 but you can pre-order now.

    The key for these IMO is the keyboard. The ASUS EeePC is nice, but the keyboard renders it unusable for any serious work.

    Washington Post gives it high marks.

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  4. It’s great that Dell is offering a normal version of Linux rather than a customized one. Acer offers a simplistic Linux that may be fine for a child but not for someone with even a moderate amount of technical savvy. HP offers SUSE but their netbook class machines are so expensive that really don’t fall into the Netbook category. One big thing to look for with SSDs is the write speed. Cheapo SSDs are brutally slow. I agree about the keyboard, from what I’ve read Asus is the worst in this regard (along with the XO). Many netbooks make poor compromises
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13554_3-10026782-33.html
    but the Dell models sound good. We’ll have to wait for hands-on reviews of course.

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  5. how is this different from the eeepc, the new asus, or the lowend hp subnotebook?

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  6. I feel like I need one of these, but I can’t figure out why. Aside from being able to better type on a plane, the rest of the benefits of these (above and beyond a normal laptop) seem pretty marginal. But like I said, I feel like I need one. Impulse buy indeed.

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  7. Wildgift: It seems it’s pretty much the same as the machines you mentioned (is have an eeePc 901); but the difference is – this is a Dell.

    Will be a lot easier to convince ‘corporate purchasing’ to buy this than an Asus or Acer, I suspect…

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  8. I just noticed this system the other day when I started shopping for an inspiron. I don’t think I would be able to do all of my web work related things on there, but it would surely be great for keeping up on email, blogs, and articles while out and about (of course, I have my iPhone for that already). It’s great to see they have a system out like this now, though, and I’ll be interested to see how it does!

    Jake
    NoteScribe: Premier Note Taking Software

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