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Dell launches Inspiron Mini 12
Unusual Atom-powered netbook
Dell has finally announced the Inspiron Mini 12 and it has more than a few unique selling points in this market segment. First of all, it's as far as we know, the only 12.1-inch Atom powered netbook in the market and this in itself will be appealing to a lot of users.
Another interesting aspect is the choice of CPU and chipset, as Dell has gone away from the Atom N270/945GMS combination in favor of either an Atom Z520 or a Z530 paired up with the SHC-US15W chipset (Poulsbo). This chipset should offer better graphics performance than the 945GMS chipset, but we'll have to wait for some real world benchmark figures to see if this really is the case.
Don't expect to find any new netbook features, though, as apart from the bigger display and unusual CPU/chipset choice, Dell seems to follow all the other "restrictions" of the platform. The Mini 12 has three USB 2.0 ports, a D-sub connector, an Ethernet jack. a memory card slot and a pair of audio jacks; that's it in terms of ports.
Dell is relying on a 1.8in Samsung hard drive for storage and the Mini 12 will come with either a 60 or 80GB drive. You only get 1GB of RAM and there is no way of upgrading this, as we reported earlier, since the CPU, chipset and memory are soldered onto a small PCB that slots into the main PCB. At least Dell seems to have integrated an HSDPA modem into the mini 12, or at least some models, although only starting sometime next year. You do, of course, also get 802.11b/g WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 as part of the package.
At 2.34mm thick and 1.23kg, the Mini 12 could become a real contender if it wasn't for the US$600 (€480/£385) price tag and the currently limited availability, as until November, the Mini 12 is exclusive to Japan. The only real downer seems to be the 3-cell battery, as it's only good for about 3h of usage. An optional 6-cell battery will be available for $79, again sometime next year.
You can find the press release here and a very good in-depth preview here