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.