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Dell Inspiron Zino HD

Dell Inspiron Zino HD

A PC to rival the Mac Mini, at last?

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Review On the face of it, Apple’s Mac Mini makes most 'small form-factor’ PCs look like a pile of junk. The Mini’s ultra-compact design also makes it ideal for use in an office or as a stylish little media centre in the living room. Evidently, Dell has taken note - hence the appearance of its Inspiron Zino range of compact PCs.

Dell Inspiron Zino HD

Splits from Atom: Dell's Inspiron Zino HD

It’s always been surprising that no Windows PC has ever really come along to challenge the Mac Mini – especially given Apple’s creeping price hikes. The Mac Mini is now far from the low-cost Mac that it was originally intended to be, with the cheapest incarnation currently priced at £510. That’s hardly a bargain given that it doesn’t include a monitor, keyboard or mouse.

We’ve seen a few compact ‘nettop’ boxes, such as Acer’s Revo, in recent months, but these have tended to use low-power Atom processors that couldn’t pass muster as a proper desktop PC. However, Dell’s Zino HD packs a more powerful desktop processor.

Dell simply describes the Inspiron Zino HD as a "mini desktop computer" but its design clearly suggests that it’s intended as a living room media centre too. Measuring 195mm square and 85mm high, it’s larger than the 163 x 163 x 50mm Mac Mini. The Zino HD isn’t quite as neatly designed as the Apple, either. The black plastic chassis looks a bit cheap when sitting alongside the silvery metallic trim of the Mac.

Even so, it’s still a darn sight smaller and better looking than most SFF PCs. The top panel adds a dash of colour – Plum Purple for our review unit, although there’s range of other colours available, including exotic delights such as "Red Swirl" and "Green Scatter", which cost an extra £30.

Dell Inspiron Zino HD

The HD models are equipped with an HDMI port

The front panel presents you with two USB 2.0 ports, memory card slot, headphone socket and optical drive, while the rear of the unit provides two further USB 2.0 ports, two eSata ports, Gigabit Ethernet, audio input and output, and both VGA and HDMI interfaces for connecting to a computer monitor or HD TV.

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