Dell's New Inspiron Mini 9 Netbook Debuts Early

The tech industry just can't seem to keep any secrets anymore. Conspiracy theorists will tell you that is exactly how companies like it, as it builds up plenty of viral buzz before a hotly-anticipated product is ever officially unveiled. The latest product to prove the rumor mill right is Dell's entry into the netbook market, the Inspiron Mini 9. (Of course, it did show up a day earlier than was predicted. )

The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is a 1.07x1.25x6.77-inch (HxWxD) netbook with a starting weight of 2.28 pounds, and a glossy 8.9-inch LED display with a native resolution of 1024x600. Pricing starts at $399 ($439 minus $40 "instant savings") for the basic configuration, which includes:

  • Processor: Intel Atom Processor N270 (1.6GHz/533Mhz FSB/512K cache)
  • Memory: 512MB2 DDR2 at 533MHz
  • HDD: 8GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Graphics: Intel GMA 950
  • Operating system: Windows XP Home Edition
  • Wireless: 802.11g
  • Battery: 32WHr, 4-cell
  • Webcam: Integrated 0.3 megapixel webcam
  • Ports: Three USB 2.0, one 10/100 Mbps Ethernet RJ45, one 15-pin VGA, one audio line-in and one audio-line out, one 3-in-1 media card reader
  • Warranty: One year limited warranty and mail-in service

 Credit: Dell
The system's color is what Dell calls "Obsidian Black," and getting a unit in "Alpine White" costs an additional $25. Other upgrade options are 1GB of 533MHz DDR memory for $25, a 16GB SSD for $40, integrated Bluetooth 2.1 for $20, and an integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam for $10. Adding all of these options would bring the price up to $519 ($559 minus $40 "instant savings"). Dell also offers a number of extended warranty, accident and theft protection, priority phone support, and on-site support options as well.

Dell is also taking pre-orders for the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 running Ubuntu instead of Windows XP. The $349 base Ubuntu config is identical to the base Windows XP configuration listed above, except for that the Ubuntu base config comes with a 4GB SSD. (With an 8GB SSD, the Ubuntu version's price comes up to $384.)

On Dell's blog, Jay Pinkert, Director of Marketing Programs & Communications for Dell, announced that for a limited time (from September 5 at 6 a.m. Central time to September 9 at 6 a.m. Central time) in the U.S. only, you can purchase an Inspiron Mini 9 "for only $99 with the purchase of a Studio 15, XPS M1530 or XPS M1330 laptop."

As to how Dell is marketing the Inspiron Mini 9, here is a snippet from today's press release:

"This small, easy-to-carry device stands ready to connect teens, tweens, travelers and 'Tweeters' to their online world be it surfing the Web, chatting with friends, blogging, streaming content, uploading photos or enjoying favorite online videos, music and games... The Inspiron Mini is an affordable Internet companion that can be fine-tuned to fit users' specific needs and deeds."

Dell is also marketing the Inspiron Mini 9 as coming with a virtual tether to the cloud: Dell states that it "has teamed up with to offer exclusive web-based file storage, access and sharing to Inspiron Mini users, including a free Basic plan with 2GB of remote storage space, expandable to 25GB." Users can upgrade to 10GB for $59.99 per year or 25GB for $99.99 per year. Unfortunately, there is no real deal here that we can see as this is the exact same offer and price structure that offers to non-"exclusive" customers.

The folks over at CNET got their hands on a unit and appear to find it well suited for basic online tasks. They were still getting used to the cramped keyboard, but were surprised at how loud the speakers could get. In their anecdotal use, they were seeing three to four hours of battery life and a relatively quick boot up time. We plan on getting a unit in house here at HotHardware and putting it through the paces. Check back soon!