With Intel's new 1.6GHz Atom N270 CPU, specifically designed for low-power Netbooks, you're not going to find the same level of performance you'd get from even an inexpensive Core 2 Duo laptop. Still, the Intel Atom processor performed about as expected, closely matching the Asus Eee PC 901 and MSI Wind in our iTunes performance test.
In anecdotal testing, we found the Mini 9 to be highly usable for Web surfing, e-mailing, and even playing music files (its speakers were surprisingly loud, if predictably thin-sounding). The combo of Intel's Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, and Windows XP found in almost every current Netbook works well for basic tasks, as long as you keep expectations modest and don't mind occasional slowdown if you try and open too many browser windows at once.
The Mini 9 ran for 3 hours and 21 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included 4-cell battery. That's second only to the 6-cell battery in the Asus Eee PC 901, and easily beats the Asus Aspire One and MSI Wind.
Dell includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system, with mail-in service. Upgrading to a two-year plan will cost an extra $128. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base and driver downloads.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Find out more about how we test laptops.
Dell Inspiron Mini 9
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 64MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; STEC 16GB SSD.
Acer Aspire One
Linpus Linux Lite v1.0.2.E; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Mobile Intel 945GME Express; 8GB solid-state drive.
Asus Eee PC 901
Windows XP Home Edition SP2; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 12GB Phison solid-state drive.
MSI Wind U100-002LA
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945 Express; 80GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.
Sylvania G Netbook
Linux; 1.2GHz VIA C7-M; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; VIA UniChrome Pro IGP; 30GB hard disk drive.