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Dell vs. Disney; Asus vs. Nick, Oh My!

nick-edition-netbook-frontNever mind you, which netbook will your kids be carting to and from 1st grade this year? Will it be the one with SpongeBob or with Little Mermaid? This week Dell announced a new netbook designed for the 6- to 12-year-old: the Inspiron Mini Nick Edition.

The Nick Edition follows on the heels of a Disney announcement for a pink or blue encased ASUS netbook that it calls the NetPals Netbook. Both machines are honest-to-goodness entry-level netbooks, ones that any adult on a budget would be happy to own. What makes them kid-friendly are decoration, software, a custom UI, and lots of parental control software

Beneath the green and white Viacom slime on the cover of the PC lurks a Dell Inspiron Mini. A Nick widget (which wasn’t quite ready to be demonstrated) will take junior right to Nickland. There they’ll find feature games of the week, first-run Nick shows, an MP3 and more. WhyVille, a highly respected social networking site that caters to a “thinking” kid, is also featured prominently.

When it comes to speeds and feeds, both Disney/ASUS and Nick/Dell machines have similar specifications: Atom processors, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, and a built-in webcam. Both run XP. Both weigh under 3 lbs. Dell adds a Lo-Jack–a sensible addition for parents sending kids into a world where they’d forget their pants if they weren’t wearing them. Dell did not announce pricing, but expect it to be competitive with the Disney NetPal.

According to Dell, Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media, helped set the mission. Moms and dads are looking for brands they can trust, access to entertainment and education, and a protected environment.

Dell is going to miss the back to school buying spree, but when it does become available in October you’ll find the Nick Edition at Wal-Mart or on Dell.com.

Undecided whether to be in the SpongeBob/iCarly or Little Mermaid/Hannah Montana camp? Don’t worry–I’m sure it’s a matter of moments before you’ll be able to add a few other kid-themed netbooks to the menu. The injustice of it all may be that your kid gets a netbook before you do.