Dell Inspiron Mini 12 netbook official

The Dell Inspiron Mini 12 netbook has been officially announced, after the company tacitly confirmed the 12.1-inch budget ultraportable last Thursday.  Rather than use the same 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU as its smaller Inspiron Mini 9 sibling, the Mini 12 has a choice of either a 1.3GHz Atom Z520 or 1.6GHz Atom Z530 processor, together with 1GB of RAM and up to 80GB hard-drive.  It weighs from 2.72-pounds and measures just 0.92-inches thick, and will have a starting price of under $600.

Both Bluetooth and WiFi b/g are integrated, and the standard OS is Windows Vista.  Versions of the Dell Inspiron Mini 12 running Ubuntu and Windows XP will be available before the end of the year.  The battery, as standard, is a 3-cell pack rated for up to 3hrs; a 6-cell version – with a claimed runtime of up to 6hrs – is available for $79.  Unfortunately there's no integrated 3G, nor does the Mini 12 have the necessary internal antennas or, from the sound of it, the WWAN modem itself; that will have to wait until early 2009.

LaptopMag and APC Mag have both spent some hands-on time with the Inspiron Mini 12, and come away generally impressed.  Each see it as punching above its weight, with Laptop Mag even comparing it to the MacBook Air and, in connectivity and price at least, scoring a few good hits.  APC expect some critique of the OS and the limited RAM – how long, do you think, before we see the first hacks lifting that limit? – but nonetheless see it as finding plenty of buyers.

Unfortunately, those buyers will have to be in Japan, at least initially.  Dell expect the Inspiron Mini 12 netbook to go on sale in the US in late November.