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Dell Inspiron Mini 12 notebook-not-netbook

The netbook goes big-screen

Lacking a cooling fan, the Mini 12 is virtually silent in operation. Thankfully, this doesn't come at the expense of a toasted crotch - the 12 keeping its cool even after prolonged bouts of intensive use.

Costs? At the time of writing Dell, is asking £329 for the 40GB Linux Mini 12 and £379 for the 80GB Windows XP version.

Dell Inspiron Mini 12

Conservative looks

Considering that the Samsung NC10 can be picked up for only a little over the £300 mark, we're not entirely convinced that the Mini 12 is such great value. And let's not forget that Samsung's NC20 – in effect an NC10 with a 12.1in screen – is due to arrive in the not too distant. If Samsung brings that in at around the £380 mark – and it looks like it will - then the 12's appeal could flag, fast.

Dell will lighten your wallet by £19 for a solid colour other than black or white, and £35 for a patterned lid - that's Dell having a bit of a giraffe if you ask us - though at least these prices are on a par with what it charges in the US - $20 and $50, respectively. Incidentally, US buyers can opt for the 1.6GHz chip in the Linux 12 for an extra $50, but UK buyers have to make do with the 1.33GHz unit.

Verdict

Knock £80 of the price of the Linux-based Mini 12 and replace – or give the option of replacing - the HDD with an SDD and the 12 would come closer to the top of our netbook 'must have' list. As it stands, nice bit of kit though it is, we can't shake the feeling that it's just too expensive and too conservative. Nor, to be honest, will we ever be wholly convinced that a fragile – and in this case slow - HDD is the storage medium of choice for an SCC rather than a drop-it-while-running-and-no-harm-done SSD.

Still, we tip our cap to Dell for still offering a standard Linux OS when so many other SCC makers seem to be putting all their balls onto Bill Gates' green. ®

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Dell Inspiron Mini 12

Dell Inspiron Mini 12 notebook-not-netbook

Not a bad bag of tricks. The 12.1in screen is great, but as whole, the Mini 12 is a little on the staid and costly side.
Price: £379 (1.6GHz CPU, Windows XP, 80GB HDD) RRP