Netbook Madness Game 7: Dell Inspiron Mini 9 vs. MSI Wind U120
Yesterday’s game, between the ASUS EeePC S101 and the Samsung NC20, was pretty exciting: There was back and forth action all day. Although the NC20 took an early lead yesterday afternoon, the S101 dominated late, racking up 27,886 votes to the NC20′s 14,138. Apparently, these are two very popular netbooks. Today, we have the MSI Wind U120 facing off against the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. Like its predecessor, the U100, the U120 also has an Intel Atom processor, 160GB hard drive, and 1 GB of RAM. However, its low price of $379–now, even cheaper–was very attractive, as was its updated chassis. The U120′s keyboard is plenty roomy, but we were disappointed with its stiff mouse buttons. Also included is MSI’s EasyFace Manager software, which lets users log in with just their faces. Unlike the U100, though, the U120 is not upgradeable, which is a bummer. Also, its six-cell battery lasted just 4:28, which is about 45 minutes less than the U100, and 1:12 minutes less than the six-cell average for netbooks. While it has a smaller 9-inch screen, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 has a lot going for it. Even though it came out several months before the U120, it too, has a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom processor and 1GB of RAM. It’s also one of the lightest netbooks on the market, weighing just 3.2 pounds. Like Dell’s other mini-notebook offerings, the Mini 9 has a classy look. However, unlike its larger bretheren, the keyboard, while comfortable to type on, has a few awkwardly placed keys. The Mini 9 that we reviewed had Dell’s version of Ubuntu Linux installed, which we found more attractive and useful than Eee PC’s Xandros and Acer’s Linpus Linux Lite. Coupled with a 4GB SSD, this unit initially cost $399, but now costs just $274–and that’s with a larger 8GB SSD. For the Linux-phobic, a Mini 9 with Windows XP, 1GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD will set you back $374. Dell also offers integrated mobile broadband through AT&T for an additional $125. The Mini 9′s 4-cell battery lasted 3 hours and 12 minutes, about half an hour longer than the average for netbooks with batteries that are less than six cells in size. So which will it be? The U120 and its larger screen and battery, or the Mini 9 and its excellent portability, low cost, and Linux OS? Update (3/27): And it’s the Dell Inspiron Mini 9! Stay tuned for today’s matchup between the Acer Aspire One AOD150 and the Asus N10J-A2.