Dell Inspiron Mini

MSI Wind
Dell and MSI talk of their upcoming mini-notes

ASUS may have created the low-cost, mini-note category with its Eee PC 701 4G, but more and more companies are looking to jump in with their own entries. Over the past week, Dell confirmed the existence of its "Inspiron Mini" and MSI officially announced the Wind which will be available June 16.

Dell recently gave some in the media a chance to look at a pre-production Inspiron Mini that was decked out with a glossy black lid instead of the glossy red lid featured in the original press photos. The pre-production unit also had some minor difference in the keyboard lettering and Function modifiers.

Speaking of the keyboard, Dell Consumer Group Senior VP Alex Gruzen went on to discuss the missing feature that had many potential customers up in arms when the firsts images were revealed online: the lack of a top row of Function keys.

"This was a trade off so the rest of the keys could be bigger," said Gruzen. "The reason we were later to the market is we’ve been working on getting the right keyboard."

The keypad design accommodates as best as possible the best user experience for this class of products."

Maybe Dell knows something that the rest of us don't, but the lack of a top row of function keys could be a deal-breaker for some people in what looks to be an otherwise attractive machine. In its current iteration, the Function keys are eliminated due to the intrusion of the battery.

In other mini-note news, MSI is already talking about the next generation Wind. The current model, which was officially announced earlier this week, has seen rave reviews from around the web.

The 10" notebook is already quite small, weighing only 2.2 pounds in its base configuration. MSI is not content, however, and wants to launch a thinner, lighter version during the first quarter of 2009. The new version would be targeted at business customers and will use the same processor/chipset as the current Wind.

MSI is also looking at yet another variant that would be even smaller and more in line with Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). The device is expected to have a screen of 7" or smaller along with a slide-out keyboard.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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