Author:
Mike Adams
2/24/2009

Continuing with our look at netbooks this week, the next one I am taking a look at is the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. Just like the Acer Aspire One, there are several different models of the Mini 9 (check out http://www.dell.com/ucdavis to “build your own” with your academic discount) and the one that the TechHub sells is the 8GB SSD Alpine White version. And just like the Acer Aspire One, let’s take a look at the overall system specs of this Dell Mini 9.

System Specs:

  • Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor w/ 512k L2 Cache
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM (1 DIMM)
  • 8.9” Widescreen WSVGA TLLCD
  • 8GB Solid State Drive (mini-card Module/PATA)
  • Intel GMA 950 (64MB shared video memory)
  • Screen resolution: 1024 x 600
  • Genuine Windows XP Home Edition
  • Integrated 0.3MP Webcam
  • VGA Port
  • Wireless b/g card
  • 3 USB 2.0 Ports
  • Built-in Ethernet 10/100 Base T
  • 4-cell battery

Notice, the specs look very, very similar to the Acer Aspire One, but there is one VERY nice thing about the Dell Mini 9. It comes with an 8GB SSD (Solid State Drive). Because of this, there are NO moving parts. The big deal about this is that the drive itself is less fragile than a regular hard drive, and not subject to as much data degradation like a regular hard drive. Also, since there are no moving parts, the unit itself is much quieter than a machine with a standard hard drive. On top of that, things load much faster since a SSD doesn’t have a hard drive arm constantly swinging back and forth trying to find where it has placed data, and then loading it. The TechHub’s Dell Mini 9 boot up, start to finish, in only 50 seconds. When was the last time your computer booted up that quickly?

So, while I love this technology, it is expensive. The rest of the machinery inside is almost identical to Acer Aspire One. It is a bit lighter, and includes a 4-cell battery (with which you will get about a little over 3 hours of use with before needing to recharge). Oddly enough, the keyboard button size (which is too small for me still, but as always…what do you expect) is almost the same size as the Acer’s, but they have condensed the keyboard down further to accommodate the battery. So instead of having an individual row of F-buttons, they are now FN key functions combined with your A, S, D, etc buttons. Call me picky, but I like the individual row of F-buttons Acer offers.

I guess that’s really all I have to say about the Dell Mini 9. It is fantastic for exactly what it is, pick it up and go, something that boots up fast for presentations on the fly, or even something to quickly boot up and check movie times. I absolutely love the SSD present in this netbook vs the regular hard drive found in the Acer. I can’t wait for this technology to drop in price. As it stands though, I would actually tip my hat to the Acer still, mostly because of the lower price point and more storage room…

Pros:

  • I love SSD technology (after reading this review, I am sure everyone can tell that by now)
  • Integrated web cam
  • Small, very compact and lightweight (even more so than the Acer)
  • Decent battery life

Cons:

  • Even though it has decent battery life, it feels like there should be a little more for a 4-cell battery
  • Lack of individual F-buttons
  • Only 8GB of storage
  • A bit pricier than the comparable Acer Aspire One (then again, the Dell includes SSD, a more expensive tech)
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