Not every computer with an Atom CPU is a netbook – or is it?
Dell has officially pulled back the curtain on the Inspiron Mini 12, a light weight and relatively cheap 12 inch notebook. It looks almost exactly like the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, which has a 9 inch screen. But the Mini 12 is bigger, has a higher resolution display, a full sized keyboard (with function keys), and a different version of the Intel Atom CPU which uses less energy thus providing longer battery life.
The Inspiron Mini 12 is also a bit more expensive, with prices starting at $599, while you can pick up an Inspiron Mini 9 for $349.
Here’s a semi-complete rundown of the specs:
- CPU: 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z520 or 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 procesor
- Display: 12.1 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel
- RAM: 1GB
- Storage: 60GB or 80GB, 4200RPM
- Operating system:Windows Vista Home Basic at launch, Windows XP and Ubuntu coming soon
- Connectivity: 802.11b/g WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet
- Expansion: 3 USB ports, headphone and mic jacks, built in mic, 3-in-1 card reader
- Battery: 3 cell (estimated 3 hour battery life) with an optional 6 cell battery to be available later for $79
- Dimensions: 11.77″ x 9.02″ x .92″ ~ 1.09″
- Weight: 2.72 pounds
Overall the Inspiron Mini 12 is a thin and light computer that should be able to handle your basic computer tasks like web browsing and editing documents. It’s a bit more underpowered than most 12 inch notebooks you’d find, but it’s a bit bulky by netbook standards. Sure, it weighs less than an Eee PC 1000H, but it’s a few inches larger which makes it just a tiny bit more awkward to throw in your bag.
And that leads to the obvious question: is the Dell Inspiron Mini 12 a netbook, or just a light weight notebook? There’s no question that this machine was inspired by the notebook trend. It’s priced like a high end netbook, and on the insides it has a lot in common with a netbook. But if we start to call 12 inch notebooks netbooks, are we dilluting the term?
A lot of web sites today are describing the Inspiron Mini 12 as a device that stretches the definition of a netbook. I’d say the Asus Eee PC S101 is a device that stretches that description. The S101 is virtually identical to the Eee PC 1000H on the inside, and it’s smaller than the 1000H not larger. But it happens to be ridiculously expensive by netbook standards. The Inspiron Mini 12, on the other hand breaks what I consider one of the defining characteristics of a netbook: it must have a 10.2 inch or smaller screen.
But maybe I’m being too rigid. So I turn to you, and ask… is the Inspiron Mini 12 a netbook?
There are other annoying things about the Inspiron Mini 12. There’s no easy access panel on the back of the computer for upgrading the RAM or hard drive. And even if you do pry the case apart and find the RAM, there’s no point in upgrading it, since as APC Magazine points out, the chipset only supports up to 1GB of RAM – the amount the computer ships with. But somehow that doesn’t prevent this from being one slick looking notebook. Maybe even a subnotebook. I just can’t decide whether it’s really a netbook.