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Dell Inspiron Mini 12 muscles in on notebook turf

The relatively large screen of Dell's Inspiron Mini 12 takes it into the uncharted territory between mini-laptops and notebooks
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1 of 5 Toby Wolpe/ZDNet

Dell's hybrid netbook-notebook, the Inspiron Mini 12 — just released in Japan — is set to reach the UK in November, offering buyers a halfway house between mini-laptops and larger portables.

Like the Inspiron Mini 9, the Mini 12 is powered by Intel's Atom, a CPU choice that helps justify Dell's designation of the machine as a netbook.

However, the Mini 12's 12.1-inch, WXGA 1,280-by-800-pixel screen is significantly larger than 10.2-inch or smaller displays usually found on netbooks, giving the new Inspiron the look of a full notebook.

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2 of 5 Toby Wolpe/ZDNet

Rather than using the solid-state flash drives common to many netbooks, the Mini 12 is available with a 60GB or 80GB hard drive.

This use of a platter drive is a characteristic that the Mini 12 shares with HP's 2133 Mini-Note PC. Also like the HP netbook, the Mini 12 runs Windows Vista Home Basic.

According to Dell, the Mini 12 will also be available with the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution and Microsoft XP later this year.

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3 of 5 Toby Wolpe/ZDNet

Having largely stopped providing XP to PC makers, Microsoft is understood to be limiting the operating system's use to laptops with restricted specifications, such as screens of less than 10.2 inches.

The Dell netbook's 12.1-inch screen would seem to breach that restriction, so the Mini 12's initial appearance with Vista could be the result of a concession that will ultimately allow the machine to appear with XP later.

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4 of 5 Toby Wolpe/ZDNet

Weighing in at 1.2kg, the Mini 12 is less than one-inch — 0.9 inches — thick at its narrowest point.

That depth is only slightly greater than that of the MacBook Air, which measures 0.76 inches.

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5 of 5 Toby Wolpe/ZDNet

Other features of the Dell machine are 1GB of memory, built-in Bluetooth and 802.11b/g wireless.

The company is quoting a price of less than $600 (£387) for the machine on the US market.

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