Dell have finally released their long awaited “EeePC killer” netbook in Australia, the Inspiron 910 (also affectionately dubbed the “Mini 9” – but that just makes me think of a cross between Mini-Me and the Crazy 88 from Kill Bill).
In the U.S. Dell is selling the Mini 9 in a few different configurations. The pricing starts at US$349 with Linux and US$449 with Windows. I configured the Mini 9 with the same specs as the top Windows version, but with Linux, and it came in at US$494. That’s US$15 more than the Windows version at US$479. Hmmm…
Unfortunately, in Australia Dell is only selling one model of the Mini 9 and it only comes with Windows.
So, how does it fair (on paper at least)? Is it really the EeePC killer as some claim? Well in regards to specifications, most of these netbooks are running the same Intel gear, so there won’t be much difference there except that Dell has apparently enabled hyper threading (remember that?). There is currently no dual-core version of the Atom available.
Time to look at specs and price. The Mini 9 more closely matches the EeePC 901, so I’m going to compare these two.
|Component||Asus EeePC 901||Dell Inspiron 910|
|CPU||Atom 1.6GHz CPU||Atom 1.6GHz CPU|
|Hard drive||4GB soldered SSD + 16GB removable SSD||Up to 16GB SSD|
|Screen||8.9″ 1024 x 600 TFT LCD, matte||8.9″ 1024 x 600 TFT LCD, glossy|
|Memory||1GB RAM DDR2-533/667 (up to 2GB)||1GB RAM DDR2-533|
|Video||Intel GMA 950 video, WSVGA||Intel GMA 950 video, WSVGA|
|Chipset||Intel 945GSE||Intel 945PM / GS|
|Battery||6-cell Li-Ion, 6600 mAh||4-cell, 5200 mAh|
|Webcam||1.3 megapixel||1.3 megapixel|
|Weight||1140g (with 6 cell battery)||1035g (with 4 cell battery)|
|Dimensions||226 x 175.3 x 22.9 mm||232 x 172 x 31.7 mm|
|Network||10/100Mb and wireless N||10/100Mb and wireless G|
|Audio||Realtek ALC6628 Hi-Def 5.1||Stereo sound|
|Ports||3 x USB 2.0 ports, VGA, Lock||3 x USB 2.0 ports, VGA, Lock|
|OS||Linux or Windows XP||Windows XP|
|Warranty||2 year global||1 year local, NBD onsite|
In terms of specs the two machines really are pretty similar. If you prefer a 1 yr onsite local warranty over a 2 yr global warranty, then the Dell might be the pick. On the other hand, if you’d prefer a longer battery life and/or wireless N, then the EeePC is still the better of the two. Oh, and if you want a white Mini 9, you’ll have to fork over an extra $25.
In the end it might come down to a few of these things, or perhaps branding. This is one edge I think Dell has over Asus – businesses trust Dell (for some reason) and therefore I think are more likely to purchase a netbook from them, rather than Asus or other computing brands.
What advantages does the EeePC have over the Dell?
It comes with Linux, whereas (in Australia at least) we still have to pay Microsoft tax for the Dell.
It has a 6 cell battery instead of 4 cell.
It has wireless N instead of wireless G.
It’s a multi-generational product, so many problems have been resolved.
I cannot see how the new Dell Mini 9 is a EeePC killer, but it’s certainly a worthwhile adversary. Either way, competition is a good thing for consumers, so hopefully next time Asus will get it right and start innovating again. A price drop should be the first place to visit.
For me, it really sucks that Dell is not selling the Mini 9 without Windows. I would gladly pay the same price and get Linux. Hell, I’d even be happy to pay a little extra. As it stands, I might have to boycott the Mini 9 and go with an EeePC with Linux instead. Now if only I could get my hands on an EeePC 1000..