Bigger Than a Cell Phone, Smaller than a Netbook

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A new classification for mobile devices is starting to come into its own: “mobile internet devices” or MIDs, they’re called. Basically, they’re like super-tiny netbooks – and they were everywhere at this year’s CES. It’s sort of an odd niche, given that today’s smartphones can pretty much do everything you need them to. Still, given the recent netbook craze, both Intel and Nvidia are hoping to tap into our new urge to buy really tiny computers. So, it appears that soon, when you go shopping for your next micro PC, you might have the chance to choose between a cheap $299/399 netbook and a crazy cheap $99 MID.

Recently, Nvidia announced their plans to best Intel in the MID category by introducing devices that have 10 times the battery life of the similar Atom-based ones that Intel is putting out. The Nvidia devices will use the company’s low-power Tegra chips and will connect to both Wi-Fi and 3G networks.

For phone calls, the Nvidia MIDs will be able to use Skype but because they’re running Windows CE and not Windows Mobile, their primary use will not be to function as a cell phone replacement. Instead, the company hopes that the $99 price point will appeal to the budget-conscious shoppers looking to buy a netbook, but think even those are too expensive. (Imagine!) However, Nvidia will also offer more expensive devices too using the same platform for those that want to spend more to get more.

The new MIDs are expected to debut sometime this summer.

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