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Dell Inspiron Laptops: Shrinking Down to Size

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The success of the ASUS PC 7" has many computer manufacturers scrambling to keep up with demand. While the initial wave of these diminutive devises, from such manufacturers as ASUS, Acer, and MSI, caught on like wildfire, it left some established manufacturers in the lurch. Many see these new laptops as the Volkswagon Beetles of small computers. Not since the hobbyist computers of the 1980s and 1990s has a computer been so customizable.

Dell has noticed this market segment and acted. With the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (more formally, the Inspiron 910), it has dipped its toe into this market niche. Like the other designs, it is an Intel Atom driven computer with 1 GB of RA and an Intel 950 series graphical chip set. The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 comes with options for spinning platter and shockproof solid state drives, and has several other options in place for operating systems, ranging from Linux distributions tailored for its specific hardware mix to Windows XP Home edition.

While the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 will not win any awards for power computing, you must remember it was not designed to. This is why the Mini 9 was folded into the Inspiron line, rather than the Latitude line. It is a low-end consumer laptop made from the lowest price commodity parts. It is geared for people who need to handle light office work, surf the web, check emails, and maybe play a YouTube video or two. The Intel Atom CPU has options for 'low power' mode, which drops its effective clock rate to 1.2 GHz from 1.8 GHz.

Where the Dell Inspiron fails to shine is accessibility. Unlike the ASUS 901, little of the laptop's internal hardware is user accessible. The 901 allows the user to swap out the RAM and the hard disk drive - the two most common changes - without partially disassembling the computer, the Dell requires you to pretty much take it apart, which is a bit daunting for a casual computer user. On the other hand, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 does have the best keyboard in this product category, and it has the most customizable properties at point of purchase of any laptop on the market. Dell also wins praise for overall sturdiness and quality of components - the microcard reader is much easier to use than the one on the EeePC.

In conclusion, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 enjoys passing marks for users who want a netbook, but also want Dell's general level of customer support and customization. If you aren't into modding your netbooks, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is a great buy, capable out of the box and nearly ideal for a second laptop, or a "take it to school' notebook computer.

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