Dell Mini Inspiron? New Asus EeePC’s? Its the keyboard, silly

So, it looks like Asus is rolling out more Eee PC’s, with bigger screens – up to 10 inches. They’ll be loading it with an Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor, and they’re promising 7.5 hours of battery life.

Now we’re talking. The Eee 701 that I own is piss poor with regards to the battery life. And the other thing that has annoyed me for a while with the Eee, is the keyboard. Its just simply too small. I try to touch type with the Eee, and its not that my fingers are fat (really, they’re comparatively thin and long), but its just difficult. The new Eee’s don’t have such an improvement.

They’re still going to be shipping with 12 or 20 gigabyte SSDs. One thing I notice with the Eee is that for critical bits of information, I definitely do not even need more than 4GB of storage.

I think I’m over the Eee. I’ll probably run OpenSolaris on it soon (I wonder if ZFS performs well on flash based storage?) and dock it with a real keyboard, mouse and monitor. And I think that’s where the Eee could shine (or where OpenSolaris could shine) – support a limited set of hardware from a few laptop manufacturers, and one might be a great success if everything “just works”.

What’s caught my fancy this week? The Dell Mini Inspiron. There are photos, and the specifications according to Slashdot (take it with a grain of salt) state:

  • Atom 1.6 GHz – just like the newer Eee’s
  • 3 USB ports – Apple better start worrying… Seems nicer than the Air, but naturally, OS X simply rocks
  • Ethernet
  • Card reader – I’ve found reading SD cards really handy
  • Mic/line-out
  • VGA port, with screen resolution at 1280×800 – winner! It sounds like this might actually be a 12″ screen, which I like

All for under-USD$500? Eee and Macbook Air killer. Of course, no mention of what kind of disk storage will be available. Frankly, I don’t care if its not flash or SSD; throw in an 80GB 4,200rpm 1.8″ drive even. SSD is a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist today for laptops (it offers next to no benefit to hard disks, in battery life or performance).

So Dell, you’ll have my business, plus the extended 3-year “everything” warranty if you come up with something like the above. Make sure the keyboard is usable. Heck, if you can fit 1280×800 on something smaller than a 12″ screen, that’d be fabulous. And don’t forget to throw in WiFi and Bluetooth. Forget an optical drive. Pack it all in with a 7 hour battery life, and you’ll be selling Mini Inspirons like there’s no tomorrow.

Heck, bring back the idea of docking stations! (I realise that a lot of young folk reading might have no idea what a docking station is, but these were fairly popular in the 90′s for laptops, to “enhance” their capabilities with parallel ports, serial ports, an optical drive, etc.) Charge us a whole bunch more for a sensible docking station. The Mini Inspiron might not be someone’s only laptop, but neither is the MacBook Air.

No mention of what OS will be on it. I don’t really care what flavour of Linux comes with it, I’m probably rooting for Ubuntu LTS, but if it comes with something crap like Xandros (aka Eee PC), its easy enough to replace it with something more sensible.

All I can say is that the next couple of months should be real fun for mini-laptop purchasers. It almost seems like you’ll end up owning several mini-laptops, keeping them in various parts of the home… after all, as we all move online, everything we need will be within a web-browser, right? :)

  • http://andygoh.net/blog/ Andy Goh

    I am glad I didn’t go and purchase the Eee900, :) Thanks for the heads up, I kinda scrolled through some news about the Mini Dell, now I’m waiting..

    Like you’ve said, I agree that SSDs are solving problems that does not exist (yet) in laptops. They’re probably for people who wants to be at the front-line in term of technology, shrug. I’m still pissed that the MBA does not offer more storage but offer something less with SSD, meh.

    Mini Dell, I wonder how hot you’ll be ;)

    By the way, we need drinks!

  • Dave

    Yikes! Having tried out the EEE 900 in Selfridges & loved it I was holding out for an EEE 901, but now there’s the Dell Mini, Acer One, EEE 1000 & MSI Wind due out soon too.

    Can’t figure out why Dell are holding back on releasing specs? Given that many potential buyers are currently gagging to buy the first “nettop” (or are they “netbooks” or “umpc’s” today?) they see, & that specs on these things won’t vary much anyway, it’s surely in Dell’s best interests to get on with disclosing some details of their product.
    Personally, I’ve ordered an external DVD drive today & just need a nettop to plug it into!

  • http://www.bytebot.net/ byte

    All, also make sure you keep track of HP’s offering, the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC:
    http://h40059.www4.hp.com/hp2133/

    A review (albeit mostly non-technical) is: http://www.kennysia.com/archives/2008/06/new_laptop.php
    Go there for the live pictures of the unit…

  • http://www.bytebot.net/ byte

    And for those following the HP offering, I replied to Kenny Sia, to ask him some questions (why do I get the feeling he will not respond? His blog is filled with mostly, crap comments!)

    Begin:

    Kenny,

    Did you get the version with 2GB of RAM, the 6-cell LiIon battery, and well, Windows Vista?

    No mention of what the thing cost you, so it would be interesting to see the price differential for Linux vs. Windows (configuration differential too).

    Is the HP easily modifiable? I.e. can I replace the RAM myself?

    I presume there is no fan/cooling unit? The Via CPU’s are quite cool…

    Keyboard good? 92% real size? That makes a lot of sense… Most important part of the laptop. Along with the screen… WXGA, so is it really 1366×768 resolution?

    Well, if you’re interested, look forward to the Dell Mini Inspiron: http://www.bytebot.net/blog/archives/2008/06/03/dell-mini-inspiron-new-asus-eeepcs-its-the-keyboard-silly

    Kind Regards

    As an aside, Allen Pais told me about this (reminded me again, its been at the back of my head for a few weeks): http://twitter.com/bytebot/statuses/826805649
    @allenpais: HP 2133 is sensible… from what i hear, good keyboard. battery life? using hdd = smart. less ram, less battery on linux? silly

    He suggests it should be selling in Kuala Lumpur now (its June), for a measly RM2,299 (http://twitter.com/allenpais/statuses/824475921)

    Kudos

  • http://andygoh.net/blog/ Andy

    Thanks for the information.

    I came across Kenny’s post right after I see this post, HP seems to interest me more than Eee901 at the moment. But in any case, I need to get hands on to be sure.

    $2k pricetag scares me, but I realised its in RM, haha. :)

  • Jake

    I”m really excited for the Dell. They’ve had the resources to keep their prices realitivly low in the laptop market.
    I’m hoping for 16-20GB of SSD. Its great for portability, my Macbook’s hard drive died from the shock of carrying it around, if you need mass storage use an external hard drive or network it with a desktop.

  • Allen Pais

    ….HP 2133….3 cell battery, you can get about 2h15m and 6 cell 4h30m…..i suppose thats pretty descent .

    Yes, changing RAM or HDD…is pretty simple….will not take long, can be done by yourself @home.

    I did look at the _laptop_…..am quite impressed with it. I think i’ll still wait to check Dell Mini Inspiron…..before i make the purchase.

  • http://www.bytebot.net/ byte

    James, a regular commenter here, had his comment eaten up (oops!). Here’s his message:

    Hi,

    My comment got eaten it seems, it had a link to
    http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/14816 which is technical and
    answers your questions: the RAM is replaceable, it has a small fan, the
    screen is 1280×800, the keyboard is great, the touchpad not so much. The
    main complaint is the CPU isn’t that great, but there will probably an
    Atom or Nano version out fairly soon.

    Looking at my wholesaler, the top-end models are available in Australia
    now, RRP $899 buys you 1.2GHz Via w/1GB RAM, a 120GB 5400rpm HDD and
    Vista Business. Another $100 gets 1.6GHz, 2GB RAM and 160GB 5400rpm HDD.
    No sign of the Linux models on the HP Australia website either, only on
    the US site:
    http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF25a/321957-321957-64295-321838-306995-3687084.html

  • Dave

    A little more info about the Dell “mini Inspiron” at the bottom of this web page: http://www.engadget.com/page/3/

    Looks like it’ll have no Function keys & will be released by the end of summer. Hmmmmm.

  • http://andygoh.net/blog/ Andy

    There’s a detailed review for Dell’s Eee killer, http://apcmag.com/up_close_with_dells_mininote.htm

  • Dave

    Some official Dell blurb about the mini Dell (the Dell E !!!) has been released… http://www.engadget.com/2008/06/12/dell-e-and-e-slim-revealed-taking-on-eee-and-air-in-one-fell-sw/

    Due out in August, apparently. Low spec model starts from $299 ??? Competing directly against the Acer One’s price tag by the sounds of it.

  • http://genkuro.blogspot.com/ Genkuro

    Oh no…. I’ve already bought me an MSI Wind.

    Oh well, I’ll be waiting for Mini Inspiron’s release nonetheless. And if all things checkout the way I want it to work then I’ll make the switch.

  • http://www.akirasabine.blogspot.com Akirasabine

    At the moment, Lenovo s10 seems to be the most viable for me.
    By the way, is the Mini 9 out yet?
    I can’t wait to compare it with the s10 and ultimately make my purchase!

  • http://externalharddrivereviews.org/blog/ External Hard Drive Enclosure

    Using such a hdd will definitely save my data in safety :)


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