Build Quality, Oh Sweet Build Quality

Here’s where ASUS falls short and Dell succeeds: the Inspiron Mini 9 feels like it’s worth much more than you’re paying for. The Eee PC, especially the 901 is actually not all that low-cost, and while build quality has improved it's still not perfect. The problem for ASUS is that the Inspiron Mini 9, at $349, feels like a more expensive product. Consider the bar raised.

That's right, white LEDs

The equivalent on the Eee PC. The Dell looks more...Apple-like

This thing feels amazing, it’s the MacBook Air meets the Eee PC. There are $1500 notebooks that don’t feel this put together. Dell has been promising me that over the next 12 - 18 months that their products are going to get significantly better in terms of functionality, build quality and design - the Mini is the first example of just that. That's not to say that the Eee PC was bad, far from it, it's just that the Mini is better.

Eee PC (left) vs. Inspiron Mini 9 (right)

Eee PC (left) vs. Inspiron Mini 9 (right)

Stylistically the Inspiron Mini 9 borrows a lot from the Eee PC. The beveled edge on the top cover is nearly identical to that on the Eee PC 901. Even the back of the screen is nearly identical, but Dell improved upon ASUS’ design by softening one of the harder angles on the Eee PC.

Eee PC (left) vs. Inspiron Mini 9 (right)

Part of Dell’s trick to making the Inspiron Mini feel more expensive than it is has to do with materials choices on the inside. The frame around the screen and keyboard are made of the same material, and it hides fingerprints. The Eee PC on the other hand mixes two different types of coating and the area around the keyboard happens to show fingerprints/grease a little too well, regardless of whether you got the white or black version.

The Mini's hidden hinges

Dell also hid its hinges as best as it could with the Mini, while ASUS displayed them prominently on the Eee PC. Stylistically, the Inspiron Mini looks more modern, while the Eee PC is more reminiscent of the notebooks of yesteryear. Given the low price point of these devices, you expect slightly older styling, but again - Dell raised the bar with the Inspiron Mini.

ASUS' exposed hinges

Index Expansion: More than a MacBook Air


View All Comments

  • Woodchuck2000 - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    ...It's priced at £299...

    Would anyone pay $600 for one of these, and am I alone in feeling ripped-off?
  • bigben - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    I, for one, thought that was brilliant.

    I would give that guy a job...
  • Baked - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    Do a review on that too. Or better yet, get your hands on all the netbooks and do a round up comparison review! Reply
  • Gnyff - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    Nice one. Now we just need to break the cursed trend of glare screens... I like to see what's on the screen - not my self, windows, lights and other reflections. It might add a bit to the fun to be able to see the photographer on a picture like the shown - but that's the first positive thing I've found for "glare" screens :-P

    Anders (Still looking for a 17" 1900*1200 notebook with good anti-reflex coating, seems only Apple and HP are sensible those days. Who would ever have guessed ;-)
  • Sunrise089 - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    Dell has simply created two price points, one for the deal and for everyone else. For example:

    You can price a studio 15 for $699. So add a full-price mini 9 to that and you get $1048.

    With the e-value code and the $99 'promo', you get the exact same studio 15 for $999 and the mini 9 for $99 which is $1098!
  • Pjotr - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    You do not mention Bluetooth anywhere in the article. The Asus 901 has Bluetooth and it's a show stopper for me if it's missing. I need to use Bluetooth to use my unlimited surfing via my 3G mobile phone subscription. Acer One doesn't come with it. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    Bluetooth is an option on the Inspiron Mini Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    Is bullshit - we get one choice, and it has to be black, comes with XP. Fail, epic fail. Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    However for that single specification, it is a good deal (taking VAT into account) compared with the US price. Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Friday, September 5, 2008 - link

    How much free disk space is there on the 4 GB version? Just curious how much room there is for additional applications, updates, etc. Reply

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