Hands on: Dell Inspiron Mini 9 review

Updated: read our full review of the Dell Inspiron Mini 9.

After much waiting, we've finally got our hands on Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 Netbook, and thankfully, first impressions show that it was well worth the wait, as the slick styling, great screen, decent battery life and 3G connectivity make it one of the better Netbooks we've seen.

The compact chassis measures 233 x 156 x 34mm (WxHxD) and weighs just 1.1kg, putting it firmly in line with the competition. During constant use on battery power, we managed to work for 224 minutes before needing to recharge.

This is a strong result, considering the small 3-cell battery. The keyboard is well-made and its smooth yet firm typing action makes it very comfortable to use. Unfortunately the width of the chassis hasn't been used to its full potential, as all keys are fairly slim and can be awkward to use if you have larger hands.

Great screen

The bright 8.9-inch screen is fantastic, and provides vibrant yet accurate colour and contrast. Its glossy Super-TFT coating adds to the effect, but of course increases reflections in bright conditions, which mobile users may not appreciate. The lid also has a glossy coating, which looks great, but is of course prone to fingerprints and scratches.

The base specification is common, and includes an Intel 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor and 1024MB of memory.

Storage is less impressive however. While many rival laptops use standard mechanical hard drives for up to 160GB of storage space, the Dell has a choice of either an 8GB or 16GB Solid State Drive (SSD). While this flash based storage provides the fastest access to your data, the speed increase is negligible for most users, who may feel that more storage space would be preferable.

While Dell sells the Mini 9 for £269, our review unit was supplied by Vodafone. As the primary provider of 3G wireless broadband access for this Netbook, Vodafone bundles the Dell for free with its 24-month contracts, with prices starting at £25 per month for a 1GB monthly data allowance. The SIM-card slots underneath the battery, so is easy to access.

A nice touch is the Dell's compact AC adapter. Its one-piece design is more like a mobile phone charger than a Netbook charger, so it's easy to carry and just as simple to connect.

While we've yet to fully put the Inspiron Mini 9 through its paces, we're so far very impressed with what Dell has delivered.

Full review coming soon, but you can check out more on the Dell at What Laptop.