The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is the result of two trends converging. The first shift sees HSDPA support integrated into laptops so that users can insert a SIM and get connected. Ultra-portable mini laptops are popular at the moment and while they may be short on flashy features, they are attractively cheap.
Vodafone is offering a netbook, complete with SIM, on a monthly tariff so that customers can instantly purchase a computer that is web connected.
The Inspiron Mini 9 has a large 8.9-inch screen across diagonal corners and has a resolution of 1024x600 pixels. The screen is just big enough for web browsing, though we would have liked a few more pixels.
The keyboard is great for typing on as long as you don’t have particularly large hands. It is well constructed, solid, and great for writing emails and documents. Dell has thought cleverly about the need to provide good-sized keys and has done away with the Fn key row. Instead, Fn keys are embedded into the asdf row and Fn combinations appear in the number row.
The Inspiron Mini 9 runs the Windows XP Home Edition. In theory you can install the same type of software you would normally have on your main computer, such as a word processor, image editor and music manager. In practice this may not be possible, as there is just 8GB of built-in storage. Incidentally, the non-Vodafone Windows XP version has 16GB of storage.
Once Windows has been installed, there is not much room for further data or applications. With a couple of USB ports and an SD card slot on offer you can more than double the available storage, just don’t expect a facsimile of your main computer. There is also a VGA out port, an Ethernet connector, headphones and microphone jacks.
Getting online is simple. You can do all the usual things, such as browse the internet and check your email. There is also Wi-Fi, so you can connect to the web over your home network to conserve your data allowance. A webcam is also included, making video-conferencing possible.
If we have one grumble it is that the shiny screen made viewing the Inspiron Mini 9 a bit painful on sunny days. Also, this is clearly not a pocket-it-and-go device. That said, it is superbly built and very capable.
The Inspiron Mini has a super screen, excellent keyboard, HSDPA data connections and a webcam.
The device is short on internal memory.
As an out-of-the-box connected netbook this is your only choice at the moment.
Display: Full colour
Resolution: 1024x600 pixels
Camera: 1.3 megapixels
Video recording/playback/streaming: Yes/yes/yes
Video calling: Yes
Audio playback: MP3, WMA
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB
Internal memory: 8GB solid state drive, 1GB RAM
Memory card slot: SD
Internet browser: HTML
Email client: POP3, IMAP4
Games: FreeCell, Hearts, Minesweeper, Pinball, Solitaire,
Spider Solitaire, and a selection of internet games
Data speed: HSDPA
Frequency: Quad-band GSM