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Netbooks and Mini-Laptops

They're little and we love 'em. But which ones are best?

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Dell Inspiron Mini 9

Dell Inspiron Mini 9

This is the SCC so many buyer have been waiting for - and they still are, in the case of the Linux version, which is expected to arrive in the coming weeks. You can have the XP version now.

The Dell proved not to be as cheap as the rumour-mill had suggested, there's no hard drive option and it has an idiosyncratic function-key free keyboard, but on the plus side the Mini 9 ticks all the right SCC specification boxes and is the easiest machine for hardware hackers to get into.

And there's no fan on board, so it'll always be quiet. Though since other Atom-based SCCs have fans, it'll likely get hot in extended use.

The Linux version will offer the customary simplified UI, but underneath sits Ubuntu, one of the most popular Linux distros, and so the 9's likely to be better served for software and add-on hardware than less well-known Linux variants like the Eee's Xandros and Aspire One's Linpus.

Reg Pick of the Range Mini 9 with Windows XP and 16GB SSD
More Info The Mini 9 on Dell's site

HP Compaq 2133 Mini-Note

HP 2133 Mini-Note

HP's 2133 is a small computer but it's not so cheap, partly because HP put Windows Vista on it. That means it also has oodles of memory, but that's because Vista needs 2GB - Linux SCCs will happily run in 512MB generally as smoothly as XP in a gigabyte and Vista in 2GB, so don't assume more memory is necessarily more desirable - it all depends on the OS.

The good news is that SuSE Linux is now an option, offered on a machine with 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive. You can spec the 2133 up with a 160GB hard drive, and with Bluetooth 2.0.

Back to the hardware: the screen is the star here. It's 8.9in but has a 1280 x 768 resolution. That said, for some folk it's too high, forcing you to squint - fortunately HP appears to offer an optional 8.9in, 1024 x 600 display. The HP is also one of the few SCCs based on VIA's 1.2GHz C7-M processor. That's about equivalent to Intel's 900MHz Celeron M, in turn only a little less speedy than the 1.6GHz Atom. Like memory, not all CPU speeds are equal.

Nor is SCC pricing: HP's pitching the 2133 as a premium product, and wants £360 for the basic model, rising to £430 if you want Vista instead of Linux.

Reg Pick of the Range HP Compaq 2133 Mini-Note PC KX872AA Linux, 120GB HDD
More Info HP's 2133 Page

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