Dell says “me too!”, launches the Inspiron Mini 9 netbook

Dellinspironmini9After months of speculation and leaks, it’s official. Dell is set to announce their netbook entry, the Inspiron Mini 9, this morning and the starting price for a version with Ubuntu 8.04 will be had for $349, although that option isn’t available quite yet. Today in the U.S., Japan and selected countries in Europe, you can order a base Mini 9 with Windows XP Home for $399 and options can shoot the cost up to over $450 or more. Not exactly the $299 price tag everyone was hoping for, but not at the top end for this market either.

Let’s see what you get for your $399… and yes, this will sound familiar to those following the current netbook market:

  • Obsidian Black color; Alpine White is another $25
  • 9" x 6.7" x 0.6 to 1.2"
  • 8.9-inch glossy display at 1024×600 resolution
  • 1.6 GHz Intel Atom
  • Integrated 802.11g included while Bluetooth 2.1 adds $20
  • 4-cell battery, 32 W/hr
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 3 USB ports, VGA out, Ethernet jack, card reader
  • 8 GB solid state drive (16 GB adds $40)
  • Integrated 1.3-megapixel webcam
  • MS Works

So far, the difference between the Mini 9 and others seems to be an extra battery cell and Works. ;) Actually, it’s nice to see a 4-cell battery. My estimate would be around three-hours of battery life with normal usage. But I’m wondering about that solid state drive: who makes it and how fast is it? I wasn’t happy with the Windows XP performance on my SSD-based Acer netbook because the data transfer rates were just too slow for me. If Dell is going out the door with Windows XP systems, I have to believe that they’ll perform at a decent speed which means faster SSD. The Direct2Dell blog says that the Mini 9 has a starting weight of 2.28-pounds which is lighter than many others in this space, but when I hear "starting weight", I immediately wonder if the battery is included in that number.

These systems won’t be shipping until September 18th, but can be ordered now. That’s the day of the Mobilize conference in San Francisco that James and I are attending, so maybe we should order one and have a special delivery. I’d like to see how the device behaves… but then again, is there that much different?

One thing that is different (and expected): you will get 2 GB of free storage with I’m seeing that more as a marketing bit than anything else. Anyone with or without a netbook can get 1 GB of free storage there today. Actually, there is another difference. Purchase a Studio 15, XPS M1530 or XPS M1330 by 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9th and you can add a Mini 9 for $99. Now, that’s something different!

Try as I might, when I configure a Mini 9 system on the U.S. Dell site, I can only get the price down to $429, not $399. Probably a glitch or could be related to my not having coffee yet this morning.


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