Netbook Smackdown: Compare the Six Top Netbooks: Page 3

Posted November 17, 2008
By

James Maguire

James Maguire


(Page 3 of 4)

3) Dell Inspiron Mini 9

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Base Price: $349

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Dell Inspiron product page

Sure, you can buy the Mini 9 cheap, at the $349 base price, but since it’s a Dell the mix and match options are endless. The smart sales people at Dell know how to tempt you into tricking out this little machine: How about a CD/DVD-RW unit, or a double-sized hard drive, or more RAM? You could easily spend $650.

Again, though, as netbooks grow up they’re not necessarily about being cheap, they’re about being small plus full-featured. Or at least that’s what makers like Dell are hoping.

The Inspiron’s keys are bigger than the 9-inch Asus’s (they did this by removing the row of function keys – it’s now an alt function of keys A to L – a trade-off that won’t please everyone.) Based on how you customize it, it comes with or without a Webcam or Bluetooth. It includes a 4-cell battery, which there’s no way to upgrade; this is a lackluster option. Minor plus: the unit is completely silent because it uses a large heatsink instead of a cooling fan. But has the noise from a netbook ever been a problem?

Processor: 1.6 Ghz Intel ATOM

Screen size: 8.9 inches

Hard Drive: 8GB Solid State Drive

Memory: 512 MB

Weight: 2.3 pounds

2) MSI Wind U100

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Base Price: $379

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MSI Wind product page

The MSI Wind is a netbook for the person who wishes they had a full-size unit. Its 10-inch screen is roomy for netbook category, and its keys are only 20 percent smaller than a full-size keyboard. So not only can you more easily scan Web sites, you won’t need to really alter your typing habits. Adding to the ergonomics, it has a built-in magnifier to enlarge photos or text, and the Page Up and Page Down keys are well placed for easy use.

With a built-in Webcam and microphone, this is a highly decent little box. In fact, the Wind has a bit of a cult following. Look around the Web and you’ll find a small army of satisfied users.

It’s available with either 3- or 6-cell battery, and the Wind switches back and forth in energy saving mode to lengthen battery life.

And, the MSI Wind is available in the Love Edition (with a big heart and flowing lines etched on the case) in case you’re feeling the vibe.

Processor: 1.6 Ghz Intel ATOM

Screen size: 10 inches

Hard Drive: 120 GB

Memory: 1 GB

Weight: 2.3 pounds


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Tags: wireless, Dell, netbooks, HP, asus


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