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Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Netbook on Vodafone review

Andy Vandervell

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

In the continuing quest to find The Ultimate Netbook, all we've really discovered is exactly how disparate everyone's needs and desires really are. Everyone still loves the idea of a netbook, but agreeing on what that constitutes is nigh on impossible. This is, of course, absolutely fine. One size fits all rarely works in technology and the netbook is as good an example of this as any. If, for instance, you're after something to be your primary notebook the latest MSI Wind (MSI Wind U100-291UK), with its six-cell battery, large hard drive and comfortable keyboard, is just about perfect. If, however, you're after the best battery life and portability possible, something like the Eee PC 901 continues to be king.

Things have only got more complicated now that Dell, a company with at least some experience in computing, has entered the fray. It is selling its netbook, the Inspiron Mini 9, for £279 and £299 in Linux and Windows flavours respectively but it has also teamed up with long time partner Vodafone to offer it with integrated HSDPA for free on its much celebrated mobile Internet tariffs. This is big news because, although we've already seen netbooks sold on contract with HSDPA modems, this is the first to have it integrated into the machine.

At its heart the Mini 9 is very much in the mould of the Eee PC 901, as opposed to the MSI Wind, Eee PC 1000H or Asus' latest offering, the Eee PC S101. It is small - very small in fact - thanks to an 8.9in screen with the ever present 1,024 x 600 resolution and as such is only marginally wider and deeper than the very first netbook, the Eee PC 701. It's light too, but not quite sub-1kg. On our scales it measured 1.08kg which, when combined with its slim and compact frame, puts it among the most portable netbooks available.

It's also, in our opinion, one of the best looking and reassuringly put together ones, too. We've never had a problem with the sturdiness of Eee PCs, but plenty of people aren't so keen on the styling and if you're one of them then the Inspiron Mini 9 should prove a good tonic. Like many notebooks these days it has a slightly wedge-shaped design, with the whole machine narrowing to a slim and comfortably curved front edge. This is reflected throughout the machine, with every edge slightly tapered to ensure there are no sharp edges anywhere. Combined with the subtly curvaceous lid this lends the Mini 9 a pleasing feel that makes it comfortable to handle and carry around.

Visually, it's uncomplicated but attractive. On the lid is a smooth black plastic finish that transitions to silver on the inside, surrounding the screen and bezel, both of which are finished in matte black. This might not be all that adventurous, but given Dell's penchant for coloured lids and arty designs - as seen on the Studio 15 - we fully expect more choice to come in the future. In the meantime, however, our only complaint would be the usual fingerprint issues generated by that glossy lid.

mrjohnp

October 14, 2008, 9:51 am

We can buy 3G/GSM phones that can surf the Interent and make normal calls these days. But can we buy netbooks/notebooks that do the same thing i.e. work as normal phones (not via Skype, Net2Phone, CallServe etc) as well as the Internet Surfing?


This WOULD be the netbook to rival all others.


I am surprised Vodaphone / Dell didn't try this.


A netbook with small BlueTooth ear/mic piece would be a Christmas stocking filler for sure.


Perhaps companies do have this but are waiting for the suitable 'up-grade' time to come along.

nickpimenta

October 17, 2008, 4:51 am

I would like to say thanks for the very useful review of this netbook/contract deal. I have just been down to my local vodafone shop and signed up for the 㿅/m contract with 1gb download allowance. Its such a well made netbook, cute yet sophisticated in apperance. This is true mobile web browing, no more strugling viewing web pages on a mobile phone screen. So far speeds have been excelent with most pages loading in 2-3 seconds or less. I would recommend this netbook, especially with the mobile internet contract to get the most use out of it.

peter2888

October 18, 2008, 9:16 pm

I think Dell Inspiron Mini 9 must be better than EEEPC, due to it support 3.5G, it's essential element for netbook and even notebook.

Ben

November 3, 2008, 5:25 pm

I'm not convinced as to the value of these contracts, yet - the networks should be offering far greater subsidy than they are. I personally think it'd be better to buy the Dell separately and then get mobile broadband on terms that suit you.





Commercial details aside, it's a fantastic combination technically. Vodafone stores should have them on display for people to play with (take note Vodafone Canterbury... your age-old demo handsets aren't fooling anybody) and should be pushing them aggressively.

basicasic

November 3, 2008, 6:26 pm

Looks like the netbook I've been waiting for except the battery life is a deal breaker. 1.5 - 2.0 hrs with the HSDPA enabled is frankly dreadful. A netbook that is light and practical and easy to carry with you anywhere .... as long as its no more than 2hrs away from the mains just doesnt cut it. These things should have 5hrs battery life minimum. I want one with enough juice so I can use it on the road all day without fear of a flat battery.

mrjohnp

November 3, 2008, 7:32 pm

These days its possible to use phone (3G and Smartphones) to make GSM calls, GPS and Internet surf.


Are there netbook PC computers that can do the same thing. i.e. you put the 3G sim card in it and it can be your GSM phone, GPS and surf unit all in one. Like a smart phone (only bigger)


How difficult is it to change the situation around?


I am looking at GSM phones lines now, not Skype. net2Phone/ CallServe etc

dc-k

March 6, 2009, 9:14 pm

I've been using mine for a couple of months now, I get a little over 3 hours use with the standard battery and reasonable use of the 3g connection. I also have the extended battery which I haven't managed to run out yet (well over five hours and I'd guess about seven is the limit). I really like it, I travel a lot and the small size and small mains adapter are perfect for my needs.





I've upgraded the memory to 2 gig ram which really helped and the SSD to 32 gig which has made it much more usable for a full blown MS Office 2007 suite including groove which I need when I'm travelling.





The HSDPA adapter also has a built in GPS receiver that isn't mentioned in any of the documentation. This is rather odd as I'd have thought this was a real selling point.

William 3

March 14, 2009, 10:35 pm

I need something to use purely for internet browsing (basically facebook and email), storing music and storing photos. These mini notebooks appear to be ideal. Are they?!





I was looking at the Dell version because I have used Dell before and been satisfied with the product. Any advice would be appreciated.

batteryland

April 7, 2009, 7:20 am

It likes that ASUS Eee PC, enough for internet browsing (basically facebook and email), storing music and storing photos.


If need a replacement Dell Inspiron Mini 9 battery, look here for more details:


http://www.laptopbatteryweb.co...





Battery Brand :Dell


P/N# :Inspiron Mini 9


Battery Type :Li-ion


Voltage :14.8V


Capacity :4400 mAh


Color :Black

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