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Emboldened by the success of low-cost, ultra portable laptops, Dell [NASDAQ: DELL] has finally entered the market with a basic laptop for the developing world. According to the official Dell blog, this machine is "positioned... as the perfect device for the next billion internet users," and while hard specifications haven't been released, it looks from press photos to feature a sub-10-inch screen and a bright red case. In most other ways, it appears to be what Michael Dell called in his blog a "mini Inspiron."

The new "mini Inspiron" will likely make use of the new low-power, low-cost chipsets from Intel and VIA, much like competitors Acer and Hewlett-Packard, who have also recently announced their plans to enter the sub-notebook market. More than 3.6 million of the tiny low-cost machines will be sold this year, most for prices under $500. Asus, the market leader, plans to sell at least two million of its Eee PCs in the first two quarters of 2008.

Speaking to the Associated Press about the burgeoning demand for small, cheap laptop processors, Intel Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini said, "I've not seen energy like this from our customers in a long, long time." Mr. Otellini also speculated that future sub-notebooks could rely increasingly on Linux operating systems, saying, "Vista has a larger memory footprint, a larger graphics requirement and a higher price point. This is all about low-cost computing," he said. No word from Dell on which operating system it will choose for its device.