Product: Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Netbook
Manufacturer: Dell
MSRP: $274 as configured (Varies by configuration)

Introduction
The Inspiron Mini 9 is Dell's first product to address the burgeoning netbook market. The attraction of netbooks is due to a combination of factors including portability, usability, and price. Whereas the Mini 9 was originally priced at $349, we've recently seen refurbished versions for as low as $178. With prices as affordable as that, I had to give the Mini a spin.



Unboxing & First Impressions
Being such a small device, the Inspiron Mini 9 arrives in a suitably compact box with environmentally-friendly egg crate style padding. You'll get the power adapter as well as installation software should you need it in the future. The system itself is really small. It is slightly larger than a typical hardcover book, and it weighs in at a mere 2.28 lbs.





Connectivity is good considering you get 3 USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, VGA Output, Audio Out & Microphone, as well as an integrated SD/SDHC card reader. The card reader is a good way to expand the storage capacity as SDHC cards have become quite affordable lately.

Specs
Almost all netbooks run the Intel Atom Processor N270 1.6GHz, and the Inspiron Mini 9 is no different. This particular system is configured with 1GB DDR2 memory at 533MHz, as well as a 4GB Solid State Drive. Wireless-G networking is built-in, with an option for Bluetooth if you so desire. The default screen configuration is 8.9” 1024x600, and video is handled by the lackluster Intel GMA 950 chipset. Seeing as the hardware specs aren't anything to write home about, we went with Ubuntu Linux as the operating system. The Mini is also available with XP Home for a $50 premium.

Review
The system boots Ubuntu Linux in about 50 seconds. It takes an additional 40 seconds (1:30 total) before it has connected to your wireless network. Once connected you can start your web activities, but first you need to wait an additional 7 seconds for Firefox to load your homepage (we tested with Google.com as the start page). If you haven't caught the theme here, let me be blunt. Waiting. You'll be doing a lot of it using this netbook. There is often typing lag between when you press a key and when the text appears on screen.



The keyboard is about 75% of the width of a regular sized keyboard, making rapid touch typing a truly onerous chore. If you use it a lot you can probably grow accustomed to the keyboard, nonetheless my initial impression is that typing any appreciable amount on the Mini's keyboard is a troublesome task. An added slap to the face is that my thumb tended to touch the touchpad when pressing the space button, which made the cursor jump to random places in the document.



Screen real estate at a premium when you're talking about an 8.9” screen. The resolution of 1024x600 is wide enough to view most web pages, but you'll find yourself doing a lot of scrolling to get through the content. The screen itself is very bright and crisp when viewed head on, but it looks bad when viewed from the top or side. The vertical viewing angle is very limited, and this issue is further exacerbated by the fact that the screen cannot tilt back more than about 45 degrees past vertical. What that means is that many people (depending on height and posture) will be out of the screen's sweet spot while using the Mini 9 on their lap.

Many of the drawbacks I've mentioned so far are drawbacks that apply to the netbook category as a whole. They are slow by design, and their tiny form factor causes some inconveniences. Now I'd like to concentrate on some of the positives.

Because it uses SSD storage, there are no moving parts in the Mini 9. It is silent. Battery life is also a strong point, allowing you to go for close to 4 hours before running out of juice. Its power-sipping nature allows the charging cable to be relatively small compared to the bricks necessary for full-fledged laptops. With such a compact size and low weight, I found myself using it more often than my laptop when I just wanted to go online for a bit. It would also be perfect for travel purposes to go online and plan your day or to check your e-mail.

Conclusion
The Inspiron Mini 9 is a good first product from Dell in the netbook category. Its combination of compactness and usability will appeal to many potential buyers, however as someone reading this review you should ask yourself if you're willing accept the trade-offs that come with such a diminutive form factor. Also, the imminent release of the Dell Mini 10 will no doubt have some users waiting for just a little bit longer.

Image Gallery

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    2besure Ben's cred: 3
    Posted 12:56 pm PST 02/12/09

    i think this is good for my kids.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    maxpain123 Ben's cred: 5
    Posted 1:03 pm PST 02/12/09

    shoulda get one w/ expressgate

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    david00 Ben's cred: 7
    Posted 1:20 pm PST 02/12/09

    well wait until the end of february and take a look at the new dell mini 10. edge to edge screen and keyboard. unfortunately it's not just a replacement for the 9 as it has alot more under the hood and will definitely push the price up alot.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    markcohn28 Ben's cred: 1
    Posted 1:43 pm PST 02/12/09

    I had the opportunity to use the Dell Mini 9 and it was slow but only with Ubuntu on it. After I put XP Pro on it, the lag time disappeared. It was also much quicker on booting up and powering down.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    techsupport Ben's cred: 784
    Posted 1:54 pm PST 02/12/09

    get a runcore drive if you got an SSD netbook. They come for the Asus and the mini and get rid of the lag issues. The 16GB starts at around $70 and 64GB is $200.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    just_a_guy Ben's cred: 44
    Posted 2:38 pm PST 02/12/09

    "I don't know *why* dell can't slim down the bezel frame on their notebook screens. That's a solid 2" of screen space that is going unused. Plus it just looks hideous. "

    1. It doesn't look that bad.

    2. You need the "buffer room" for the ports and for the keyboard.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    DavidVanPatten Ben's cred: 23
    Posted 3:49 pm PST 02/12/09

    Save 15%
    on any Dell Outlet Inspironâ„¢ Mini Laptop!
    Enter Coupon¹ Code at Checkout:
    One for you
    NDJDF36?1J$V12
    One for a friend
    FLCJV6118TBN94
    Expires 2/18. Online only.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    zestyedge Ben's cred: 1
    Posted 5:11 pm PST 02/12/09

    Macbook Air - That is the dumbest comparison you could have come up with. $1800 mac /vs/ $300 pc. They're not even in the same category.

    After the initial hype, the Air has nearly disappeared.

    The EEE is a way better comparison, and one I've actually made. The 10" EEEs are pretty slick, and you can bump them up to 2 gigs of memory for cheap. I love mine.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    natea24 Ben's cred: 8
    Posted 5:35 pm PST 02/12/09

    Netbooks are NOT laptops. They should not be compared. People expect too much out of netbooks. They are good for travel and for the computer novice. They cannot compare to laptops or desktops. They are good for what they were made for. Having said that, I will wait until they are around $200 fully loaded to actually purchase one.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    omegalow Ben's cred: 3
    Posted 7:29 pm PST 02/13/09

    they look nifty. fun to play with and there not just a novelty but not quite a computer. In that retrospect, if u have a DS, put dslinux on it and its nearly the same thing as a netbook(if u can use terminal).

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    RKLE Ben's cred: 950
    Posted 8:35 pm PST 02/17/09

    these are being discontinued it looks like.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    calstyleee Ben's cred: 2
    Posted 8:16 am PDT 03/22/09

    typing lag? that is rediculous

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    RKLE Ben's cred: 950
    Posted 12:49 pm PDT 03/22/09

    I see this are going out, nobody wants a small computer.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    muff_diver Ben's cred: 22
    Posted 7:39 am PDT 03/23/09

    RKLE wrote:
    I see this are going out, nobody wants a small computer.


    LEARN ENGLISH.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    nuisance Ben's cred: 1037
    Posted 8:02 am PDT 03/23/09

    Removed by forum Administrator

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    muff_diver Ben's cred: 22
    Posted 1:00 pm PDT 03/23/09

    Like I said: it's acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition if you're white trash, have a low I.Q., or are simply bacon challenged.

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    nuisance Ben's cred: 1037
    Posted 1:36 pm PDT 03/23/09

    Removed by forum Administrator

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    Anonymous Ben's cred: 1677690
    Posted 2:37 pm PDT 03/23/09

    Removed by forum Administrator

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    nuisance Ben's cred: 1037
    Posted 2:51 pm PDT 03/23/09

    Removed by forum Administrator

  • Was this useful?
    Voting ...
    0 0
    Anonymous Ben's cred: 1677690
    Posted 4:23 pm PDT 03/23/09

    Removed by forum Administrator

Already a member? Sign in below.

Forgot Password?
Sign in with Facebook

Registration takes seconds! Once registered youll have members only access to:

  • Deal Alert email notifications
  • Giveaways for the hottest products
  • Newsletter for events and holiday promotions
  • Deal comments and discussions
  • The best deal community, ever
or
X Close

The best deals, product reviews, and giveaway announcements emailed directly to you!

Sign up now for the Ben's Bargains newsletter!

Email address is not valid

X Close

Thanks! You can also register an account with us to be eligible for Giveaway Entries, Deal Alerts, and Comments.