It looks like the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 has a big brother. Yesterday, Dell announced the new 12″ Intel Atom-powered Dell Inspiron Mini 12 netbook. Yes, a 12″ display is really pushing the definition of just what a netbook is (and this is the first 12″ netbook). It’s pushing it more than even the Asus N10 and its dedicated NVIDIA graphics chipset.
For the first time, faster Intel Atom CPUs are being offered: The Z520 (1.33GHz, 512KB L2) and Z530 (1.6GHz, 512KB L2), both of which may have some hardware virtualization capabilities (depending on whether they are enabled or not). Windows Vista Home Basic is the OS of choice for the initial launch model, but Ubuntu Linux and Windows XP Home will also be offered later on. Dell claims a battery life of three and a half hours.
An Intel GMA 500 chipset is listed for the graphics, with the Intel US15W chipset as the controller. This also represents a first (we believe), as it offers unified shaders and hardware vertex shaders, as well as OpenGL 2.0 and DirectX 10.1 capabilities. Included is hardware acceleration for some video formats (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC). They mention the Silverthorne Atoms and chipset that limits it to 1GB of RAM.
The hard drive is a 1.8″ Samsung 60GB SATA 4200rpm drive, with 40GB and 80GB options available later on, and it’s not easy to upgrade.
In an interview with LAPTOP Magazine, Dell senior product manager John New mentioned that Microsoft has eased up on the Windows XP Home limitations (before it was capped at a 10.2″ display).
It’ll be available starting in Japan on October 29, 2008, with a starting price of 89,800 yen (Japan) ($953 USD) which is definitely pushing the definition of what a netbook is, but this is apparently the high-end model. Another model will be available in the US later in November, with a starting price of under $600 (According to Dell) which probably means a lower capacity drive, and Ubuntu Linux.