Hands on: Dell Inspiron Mini 9 review

Dingly Dell
Dingly Dell

Update: read our full Dell Inspiron Mini 9 review.

Dell finally gave its much talked about netbook, the Inspiron Mini 9, a public airing in Monaco today and TechRadar were there to get a hands-on look.

The first thing you notice about the machine is its size. With a 9-inch screen, the whole thing is pretty much weightless. Close it and it will easily slip into a handbag, manbag, or any other sort of bag that laptops usually don't go in.

The version that we tried out was using Unbuntu as its operating system. Start-up took around a minute, and the whole interface was easy to use.

Big icons

Icons are big, and those who have had no experience with this Linux system – which has been overhauled for this model – will easily find what they are looking for.

Unless what they are looking for is 3G. This is a bit of a sticking point with the computer. Unless you buy – or should we say obtain – it as part of an exclusive mobile phone contract via Vodafone, you will not get a 3G modem as part of the package. The minimum contract for this is 24 months.

If you buy it straight from your Dell stockist, then you will have to make do with plain old Wi-Fi.

Logging on to the internet via the Wi-Fi connection, however, was a breeze, if a tad sluggish. But this is something you have to expect with a computer of such a small stature.

Touchpad gripe

The touchpad is also a little hard to get to grips with. The version we used saw the mouse pointer go in every direction but the right one. This calmed down, once we got to grips with the sensitivity, but it does not bode well for the clunky fingered out there.

The hard drive is a 16GB SSD, which in this day and age is simply not enough for the music and picture hoarders.

The look of the Mini Inspiron 9 is a tad plasticky. There's a not-very appealing plastic rim around the screen, and the top has been finished off in gloss, while the bottom has a dull matt look.

Not a laptop replacement

TechRadar spoke to the Head of Dell's marketing in Europe about the diminutive machine, and he was quick to note that it isn't a laptop killer.

"The Inspiron 9 is not a laptop replacement. It has been built for a 30-minute on-the-go email, social network experience that you may have at your local cafe."

Which is fine, considering the actual battery life of the thing is a decent four hours.

The Inspiron Mini will certainly hold its own in a rather crowded netbook marketplace.

With Dell hinting to us that it may well be marketed as part of a laptop bundle in the run up to Christmas, this could well be a big seller in the market.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.