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Dell Mini 12  (Source: Dell)
Dell Mini 12 will come to America in November

With the current state of the global economy, computer makers are throwing their marketing and development dollars where the consumers are currently shopping -- the netbook category. The wealth of new netbook systems coming to market as we build to the holiday season is impressive.

One of the most interesting new netbooks is the Dell Inspiron Mini 12. The Mini 12 is the big brother to the smaller Mini 9 that Dell introduced officially in September 2008. The main and obvious difference between the two Dell netbooks is the screen size.

The Mini 12 has a 12.1-inch 1280 x 800 WXGA display promising wider viewing angles and good brightness. Other features of the system include 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a built-in webcam, 1GB of RAM, 60GB or 80GB HDD (on the Japanese model) and Windows Vista for the OS. Dell says battery life is up to 3 hours and 32 minutes. Dell's Japanese site lists the CPU in the machine as the Intel Atom Z520.

Dell says that hard drive capacities will vary by country so odds are a higher capacity version will come to America when the late November launch date rolls around. The starting price for the rig in the U.S. will be under $600. Dell says that the Mini 12 weighs 2.27 pounds and is 0.92-inches thick. Some may eye those specifications and think about the MacBook Air.

According to Laptop Magazine, the Mini 12 is only slightly thicker than the Air. Laptop figures the slightly porkier profile is well offset by the additional USB ports it allows along with a few other features. The keyboard is said to feel like the one used on the Mini 9 with an added row of dedicated function keys at the top.

The Mini 12 may not be as thin as the Air and doesn't wear the hip Apple logo on its lid, but the savings of around $1,000 will tempt more than a few netbook shoppers that have lusted after a super thin machine. Just don’t expect to get the same level of performance the Air would offer with its full-fledged CPU and NVIDIA graphics.





"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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