Dell joins the fray

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
Bluetooth Yes Yes
Network 10/100Mb and wireless N 10/100Mb and wireless G
Card reader MMC/SD 4-in-1
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
Price AU$590+ AU$599

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..


3 thoughts on “Dell joins the fray

  1. was a little underwhelmed by the dell 🙁

    thankfully i didn’t hold out and lashed out a few weeks ago on a very nice little acer aspire one.

    a big big plus on the dell (but not in aussie land) is ubuntu. ubuntu on my acer aint perfect (but its improving with new kernels and hacks)

    if you are happy to use the appliance style linux on the eee and aspire one, its a mute point (but i like to break things)

    it took a good 4+ months for a good ubuntu port to come to my eee 701, having everything working on the dell would be a big plus.

    also the keyboard on the eee sux compared to the not-to-bad acer.

    the next big hold out will be for the lenovo mini which should have an express card (not that i can afford 3g).

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