The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 looks like what you might get if you left a notebook from Dell’s full-size Studio line of laptops in the dryer too long. But the sub-$500 Mini 9 carries a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a solid-state drive, making it a good starter machine for basic computing at a reasonable price.
Our test configuration, priced at $474, included Windows XP Home and an 8GB solid-state drive. The 8GB drive doesn’t give you much open space to work with once the operating system and the preinstalled software (which includes Microsoft Works) are accommodated. In fact, we found that our WorldBench 6 test suite demanded more space than the Inspiron Mini 9’s drive could spare.
Since we couldn’t run our benchmark tests on the Mini 9, we can’t directly compare its performance with that of competing netbooks, but in our informal evaluations it fell in line with what we’ve seen from similarly configured mini-laptops.
The Mini 9 is a solid netbook with a terrific design and a good price. It’s a good fit for kids, and it has plenty to offer anyone seeking an on-the-go system.