Whether you call them Netbooks, Sub-notebooks or Internet companions, the new class of lightweight, small format, portable computers that sit somewhere between a PDA and a fully fledged notebook appear to be more than just a passing fad. Dell has now officially released its first entry into this space - the Inspiron Mini 9. Powered by a 1.6GHz Intel® Atom Processor® N270, the 2.28 lbs unit measures 9.13" x 6.77" x 1.25"H and features an 8.9-inch (1024x600) glossy LED display, over four hours battery life, plus Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a webcam built-in.

The Mini 9 will be available in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB solid state drive (SSD) configurations and two different colors – Obsidian Black or Alpine White. The version running Windows XP Home is available now starting at USD$399 and a version running Ubuntu 8.04 with a custom Dell interface is expected soon for USD$349.

A deal between Dell and Box.net means customers also get free access to 2GB of web-based storage space which can be expanded to 25GB.

Readers in the U.S., Japan and some parts of Europe can get their hands on the Mini 9 now, with other locations to follow on a "country-by-country basis".

See Dell for full specs.