Dell blurs netbook-laptop lines

Dell launched its latest Inspiron Mini, which looks a lot like a laptop. Welcome to the inevitable blurring of the netbook-notebook PC lines.

Dell launched its latest Inspiron Mini, which looks a lot like a laptop. Welco

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me to the inevitable blurring of the netbook-notebook PC lines.

Netbook sales have been the hot topic on any earnings conference call tied to the PC ecosystem. Microsoft noted that it wasn't sure how netbooks would impact margins. The software giant did not that netbooks are flying off the shelves and representing almost all the growth in the PC industry. Intel noted the same trends.

Now here comes Dell with its Inspiron Mini 12 (Techmeme, Dell blog). It's not quite a netbook--it has Vista and the usual hard drive--but it's cheap at $600 or so. The Mini 12 debuts in Japan for some odd reason, but it'll come to the U.S. later with other options--XP and Ubuntu--that'll knock the price down. But the big kicker is that the Mini 12 has a 12-inch screen. In other words, it's basically a laptop.  Gizmodo makes the MacBook Air connection.

I'll leave the reviews to others, but I smell some terminology mashups ahead. Give it a few months and every laptop that connects to the Internet, is sort of small and costs about $600 or so will be dubbed a netbook.

It's fascinating how new categories and terms can go to 0 to meaningless in record time in the tech sector.

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