We saw it back in August at a press event in New York, and now it’s finally here – Dell’s new Mac Mini competitor, the diminutive Zino HD, hit the ground running with a number of configurations starting at just $229. Hit the read link for the full details.
**At the moment, Dell’s website is pushing Windows 7 Home Premium as the base OS choice for the Zino HD, when in reality it’s supposed to be, surprisingly, Windows Vista Home Basic. If you want to get a Zino, buy it now, before they change it.**
The new Inspiron Zino HD is Dell’s latest attempt to capitalize on the small desktop market – a trend we’ve covered before. It’s not their first effort — that…honor…belongs to the Studio Hybrid, but it’s really looking to be their best effort yet. Measuring just 7.75 inches on a side, it’s barely bigger than a Mac Mini, but it’s way cheaper and much more configurable.
|Processor||AMD Athlon Single and Dual-core CPUs, AMD Athlon Neo Dual-core CPU|
|Memory||Base: 1GB DDR2 SDRAM — Maximum: 8GB DDR2 SDRAM|
|Storage||Base: 160GB SATA @ 7200 RPM; 1TB HDD available|
|Optical drive||Base: none; Blu-ray combo drive available|
|Graphics||Base: ATI Radeon HD3200 (integrated); ATI Radeon HD4330 512MB available|
|Audio||Integrated HD audio|
|Networking||Base: Gigabit Ethernet; wireless optional|
|Media card reader||4-in-1 card reader|
|Inputs||4 x USB2.0 (2 front, 2 rear), 2 x eSATA, VGA, HDMI, headphone, mic, audio out|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate (64-bit)|
|Dimensions||3.5 x 4.88 x 4.88 inches (HxWxD)|
|Power supply||65W for integrated graphics, 75W for discrete graphics (both external)|
|Warranty||One year limited hardware|
|Personalization||Nine different colored lids available for $10 – $30 extra|
The base price of the Zino’s lowest-end configuration is $229, which pushes it down into nettop territory. Given the specs on that configuration, it’s probably a really good value: the Athlon 2650e should give significantly better performance than the Atom N270, and the Radeon HD3200 will definitely give better performance than Intel’s integrated GMA950 graphics system.
Dell is obviously intending this for use as an HTPC as well – just look at the name – and a TV tuner, wireless keyboard and mouse are all optional upgrades to the base unit. Moreover, the Zino HD has HDMI out, making it perfect for attaching to modern HD displays. Even the Radeon HD3200 should have no trouble decoding most HD video streams; the lowest processor is a bit weak, though. Given how cheap it is, and the fact that a dual-core upgrade is only $60, it’s probably a no brainer for most people to make the jump up to better performance.
The Zino HD is also part of Dell’s attempt in recent years, starting all the way back with the first Inspiron 9100 and XPS laptops, to allow users to customize their computers, letting them reflect personal styles or room design. The base unit comes entirely in black, and various tops are available to change the look of the unit – the cover snaps into place with a release button in the back for easy removal. Nine designs are available; six are solid colors with a gradient effect and three are patterned. The solid colors are a reasonable $10 extra cost, while the patterns are $30 – which, frankly, is a bit silly. It doesn’t cost Dell $20 more to manufacture those lids.
In all, though, the Inspiron Zino HD looks to be an exciting entrant to the ultra-small form factor desktop market. If the build quality and performance are as good as its price and looks, it seems like the Zino might be the holiday’s new thing to get. As this market segment is comprised of pretty much just the Zino HD and the Mac Mini, Dell has a fight ahead of them to convince consumers that their unit is the one to buy; with price, configurability and accessories on their side, however, they stand a reasonable chance of doing just that.
We’ll be getting the new Zino HDs in very soon – be sure to stop back and catch our full review.