dellmini.jpgThe new laptop-type of computers are called netbooks. They are tiny and highly portable. They look just like laptops but lack some of the major features found in most laptops.

dellmini.jpgI recently watched a QVC presentation of a new type of Dell computer. It was called the Dell Inspiron Mini Netbook. The Dell representative and show host talked about how tiny the computer is. At 9-1/8"W x 6-7/8"D x 1-1/8"H, it can fit inside an average-sized pocketbook. They boasted how lightweight this handheld computer is.... just 2.28 lbs with battery. They touted its wireless capabilities, its durability, and its four hours of battery power. But never, during the six minute presentation did they mention that the hard drive was only 16 GB in size. With most of today's computers coming with hard drives in excess of 120 GB that is a pretty important fact to gloss over.

The size of the hard drive does not necessarily make this computer a bad choice. It's just that everyone should understand exactly what they are getting when they opt for one of these new computers that are being called "netbooks".

Last year a company called ASUS produced a new type of portable computer which was aimed at the low-end market. They called this the EeePC. It had a 7" screen and ran Linux. Because of its ultimate portability, these little PCs really caught on. However, purchasers of these first models quickly found that they were incompatible with their printers, camera, and other digital devices. So Dell, Acer, and MSI responded with similar small PCs that run Windows XP. This makes them more compatible with peripheral devices. ASUS, of course, followed with a eeePC that runs Windows XP.

However, just because they are running Windows XP, don't think that they are as capable as regular laptop or desktop computers. They are really more like mini-Internet devices rather than full-fledged laptops. The Dell and most other netbooks use an Intel Atom processor. This is a processor that was made for very small portable devices like cell phones, so don't expect to do multi-tasking on a netbook. They are really made to do just one thing at a time. That is okay, as long as you don't expect to use it like you use your desktop computer.

To get back to the size of the hard drive, the Dell Mini Netbook has only a 16GB hard drive. That is enough to store a few files, some email, and a few pictures. The reason that the hard drive is so small is that it is a fairly new type of drive called an SSD for Solid-State Drive. With no moving parts, these storage devices may actually last longer than traditional hard drives and they will almost certainly be available in larger capacities in the future. But right now, they are of limited size. The largest one that I've seen is 32GB, which really can't compete with our traditional hard drives many of which are now in excess of 500GB. Certainly the lack of storage can be supplemented by online storage solutions, but this may not be a good solution for everyone.

I am anxious to try one of these new netbooks and you may be too. Just be sure to realize that this is small portable computer is a mini in capabilities as well as a mini in size. It will be perfect for email and quick tasks, but which won't yet replace your laptop or desktop computer.

I praise Dell for coming out with what looks to be a great little netbook. Only I have to complaint for Dell. On their website and in their brochures, Dell calls this the Inspiron Mini 9. Inspiron is the name of one of their major lines of laptop computers and I really feel that a computer that is so different should not have been lumped into the Inspiron line, giving people the impression that it is as capable as the other Inspirons. I also have to take QVC to task for not explaining the capabilities of this netbook so that everyone would understand exactly what they are getting. The new netbooks are low-cost and highly portable. They will be perfect for people who travel, but don't want to drag along a heavy laptop. They may even make a great second computer at home. Just don't expect too much.