Dell’s upcoming cheap mini-notebook due out in August

It looks like Dell is releasing a few more details about the company’s upcoming cheap ultraportable laptop. But just a few. First, the computer, which may or may not be called the Inspiron Mini, will be released in August.

Second, the reason Dell is waiting until after every other computer maker on the face of the earth has already announced or released a similar device is because the company’s been busy tinkering with the keyboard. And not necessarily in a good way.

APC Magazine reports that in order to make the keys on this tiny laptop larger and easier to use, Dell decided to do away with the Fn keys altogether. Sure, most people don’t need to hit F12 very often on a daily basis. But these keys come in handy when you’re trying to provide keyboard shortcuts that do things like adjust the volume or screen brightness or turn the WiFi on and off.

Fn keys are also often used to access the BIOS setup screen when booting a computer, although it shouldn’t be hard for Dell to map that function to another key. But as APC describes it, the hardware keys for adjusting or toggling volume, brightness, standby mode, battery meter and other settings are “littered around the keyboard.”

On the bright side, the computer has a VGA port for connecting an external monitor, 3 USB ports, and a card reader.

Keep in mind, the unit APC got a look at is a pre-production model and things could still change. We also haven’t heard anything about the processor, storage capacity, RAM, operating system, or price.

  • http://www.hypertegrity.com/ Mickey Blue Eyes

    I think either Dell already has or had an ultraportable laptop or I saw a guy who time-traveled from the future. I was in a meeting where a guy a couple rows in front of me had a tiny Dell laptop. It was very small, maybe a 9″ display, laptop running Win XP. I looked on the Dell websites but couldn’t find anything with a <10″ display that wasn’t a tablet or something completely different than a laptop form factor.

  • Rich

    The older D400-series Latitudes “look” small. Was it one of these?

  • John Ruschmeyer

    It might be the old Latitude X1 (12″ widescreen display).

  • m

    you can see this clearly in the photos released last week: there is a large blue FN key bottom left, and blue combinations scattered across the keyboard. the hardware functions you mention are all on the number keys. it’s not that big a deal. and it could have its advantages: i won’t miss the stupid f1 “help” key. anyway, the only two i ever use are f2, rename, and f5, reload.

  • mostlyharmless22

    I think it’s ingenious. These keyboards have to be so small to fit the form factor and weight. I think it’s great that someone is doing something different with the keyboard rather than just shrinking it. I will wait to see how the Dell shakes out before I buy.

  • roguent

    I for one have been waiting years for this level of mobility. I can learn a silly new keyboard.

    From http://www.jackpicks.com/2008/06/sneak-peak-at-
    If this Computer comes with Ubuntu then I am sold. There are other rumors floating around that they want to be price competitively with ASUS and their $500 and less models. My friend at SMB Tech Advice has a geek breakdown of this device so I won’t reinvent the wheel. I am more excited about the possibilities of this computer as a social breakthrough. Small, portable, affordable are all aspects that will break down the socio-economic barriers limiting equal access to information. Those aspects coupled with a free open-source operating system like Ubuntu will truly level the playing field and allow for the American dream to flourish in the technological age we are just entering. Dell has forever touted themselves as a hardware vendor. I hope they put that to the test by shipping this with a Linux OS option.

  • roguent

    I for one have been waiting years for this level of mobility. I can learn a silly new keyboard.

    From http://www.jackpicks.com/2008/06/sneak-peak-at-
    If this Computer comes with Ubuntu then I am sold. There are other rumors floating around that they want to be price competitively with ASUS and their $500 and less models. My friend at SMB Tech Advice has a geek breakdown of this device so I won't reinvent the wheel. I am more excited about the possibilities of this computer as a social breakthrough. Small, portable, affordable are all aspects that will break down the socio-economic barriers limiting equal access to information. Those aspects coupled with a free open-source operating system like Ubuntu will truly level the playing field and allow for the American dream to flourish in the technological age we are just entering. Dell has forever touted themselves as a hardware vendor. I hope they put that to the test by shipping this with a Linux OS option.

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  • http://rideonmowerguide.com/ Mike mower

    I think that this notebook look pretty lovely