Interested in the Dell Mini

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 sub-notebook computerDell has announced availability of the Inspiron Mini 9 sub-notebook computer, and I have to admit it's caught my eye. Dell didn't invent the sub-notebook form factor, but they did produce the first one that's grabbed my interest.

There are two things I like about the Mini. First, like many other sub-notebooks, it offers a Linux option. Second, unlike all the other sub-notebooks, it looks like a machine I could do business on.

Out of all the places where a sub-notebook has to make sacrifices, the one that concerns me most is the keyboard. The Mini seems like it may be the one to most closely approach the experience of a full-sized keyboard.

One thing they did to achieve this was to eliminate the row of dedicated function keys along the top. That's ok with me.

Something else they did was to relocate the quote key—and I'm much less ok with that. They pulled the quote key, normally found alongside the ENTER key, to the bottom, just right of the space bar. I'm concerned by that, enough so that I'm not sure I'd be willing to buy without trying it first.

AnandTech has a good review of the keyboard: Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Reviewed

The reduced screen size (1024x600) would be a problem for some tasks, such as development or photo processing. But you've got no business attempting those things on a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor. My primary uses for my laptop are web, email, blogging, and note taking. The Mini should be fine for that.

I think the big question for many people will be whether it's cheap enough. The base system with main memory upgraded to 1GB and storage upgraded to 8GB is priced at $409. For another $90 bucks you could buy a full-sized Inspiron 1525, and not have to compromise the display or keyboard.

It's a tough choice. If the Mini is built solidly, then I'd take it over a low-end laptop for its portability features.

Just so long as I can find the damn quote key.


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Agree about the keyboard

I'm looking for a netbook as well; something that lets me do all the usual stuff as well as check on our server farm when I'm away from my desk. And I've been uniformly turned off by the tiny keys of netbooks. For me, the weird keyboard layout is a dealkiller; I can live without dedicated function keys, but please leave the regular typing keys alone. It seems that semi-clever hardware guys try this from time to time, never with good results.

MSI Wind

Albert - check out the post to my link blog on the MSI Wind:

It looks like a standard keyboard layout, scaled down just enough to fit the sub-notebook form factor.