Dell’s the First With A Sub-$300 10-Inch Netbook

By  |  Monday, May 11, 2009 at 4:08 pm

dellmini10vDell doesn’t make the cheapest of netbooks, so I never guessed it would first to make a 10-inch model for under $300, but the proof is in the company’s May 2009 PDF catalog, hawking the Mini 10v for $299.

Apparently the news was leaked earlier than Dell anticipated, but it’s real. One user in Denmark has already pre-ordered the new model. The 10v uses an Intel Atom N70 processor, standard for netbooks, instead of the Z520 and Z530 processors used in the original Mini 10. As a result, it’s $100 cheaper.

You can find smaller netbooks, such as Dell’s Mini 9 and Asus’ 8.9-inch Eee PC, for under $300, but from what I can tell by looking at all the major netbook makers, Dell is the first to offer a 10-inch screen at this price. ZDNet, which sees the move as the beginning of a trend, believes cheaper, full-fledged ultrathin laptops from HP, Acer and MSI are the motivation.

I’ve got my own theory: Netbooks were an underdog to begin with, selling at rock-bottom prices because of their small screens and meager specs. It follows that most of their expansion has been upwards towards standard laptops, with bigger screens, better batteries and more powerful processors. Dell’s development moves in the opposite direction, using decidedly average technology to create a netbook that’s dirt-cheap, but far from cutting-edge.

In a sense, Dell’s mimicking the typical PC growth cycle. As new models hit the market, the old technology sticks around in cheaper models. It’s just fascinating with netbooks because the prices are so low to begin with.

This is a trend that I’d like to continue. Having more options at the high-end is great, but netbooks’ real appeal remains in ever more capable PCs at the floor of the price spectrum.

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