Buy a Dell notebook, get a Dell Mini for $99

In the market for a new notebook? Dell's offering the hot-hot-hot Mini for a song with the purchase of a regular laptop.

Get Dell's wee PC for just $99 when you buy a regular notebook. Dell

Today, Dell launched the much-anticipated Inspiron Mini 9 netbook (a.k.a. mini-note, ultra-note, or whatever we're calling this category). Tomorrow, you'll be able to score one for just $99 with the purchase of a Studio 15, XPS M1530, or XPS M1330 notebook. This according to Dell's own blog.

The Mini joins teeny portables like the Asus Eee PC and Acer Aspire One in offering basic computing in an ultra-light, ultra-compact package. It's available exclusively with Windows XP or Ubuntu Linux and solid-state storage (up to 16GB). CNET hasn't done a full review yet, but gadget site Crave just posted some first impressions.

A few thoughts. First, this obviously isn't an impulse-buy deal, but if you happen to be in the market for a new notebook anyway, it's almost too good to pass up. The Mini starts at $349 (not sure which model is being offering at the $99 price point, but it's a good bet it's the 4GB Ubuntu version), while Dell's Studio line starts at $649. In theory, you can get out the door for as little as $748. Not interested in the Mini? Take it straight to eBay, where you'll probably be able to sell it for close to the list price. Or give it to the kids.

Second, I honestly don't understand the appeal of this whole netbook category. Much as I like to travel light, I don't like cramped keyboards, small screens, and slow performance. That said, for 99 bucks I'm willing to forgive all that. The Mini might be perfect for those times when I just want to do some "light" computing (pun intended).

According to the Dell blog, this deal kicks off at 6 a.m. CT Friday and runs through Tuesday. Think you'll take advantage of it? Hit the comments and tell me why or why not.

Update: Sorry, folks, but it looks like you need to start with at least the $1,048 Studio model to qualify for the $99 Mini. Sigh.

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