The Good More configurable than other Netbooks; good battery life; XP and Linux OS options.
The Bad Some awkward keyboard compromises; no SSD options larger than 16GB.
The Bottom Line Dell's entry into the Netbook market means it's time to take these low-cost, low-power PCs seriously. The Inspiron Mini 9 is an excellent example of the form, if not radically different from the competition.
Dell Inspiron Mini 9
Editors' note: We have revised the rating of this product to reflect the changing competitive Netbook landscape.
We've known for some time that Dell was working on a Netbook-style laptop--the same kind of small, low-power, inexpensive system made popular by Asus and the Eee PC line. And even though there are not many surprises in the new Inspiron Mini 9, it's still an excellent example of the form, without any of the deal-breakers (older CPU, not enough storage space, hard-to-use touch pad) that have kept other Netbooks from being more universally useful.
While component-wise, the Mini 9 is similar to other recent Netbooks, such as the Eee PC 901 and the Acer Aspire One (which all use Intel's Atom CPU), in typical Dell fashion, there are more customization options than we've seen other Netbooks.
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Dell Inspiron Mini 10 bridges the gap
Dell's first netbook to feature a 16:9, 10.1-inch display, the Inspiron Mini 10 should be slightly less fiddly than the Mini 9, but more portable than the Mini 12
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