Dell Inspiron Mini 12 Officially the Biggest Netbook on the BlockS

A truly bizarre day to announce a new notebook, Dell's Inspiron Mini 12 is officially the most gargantuan netbook on the block. I wasn't exactly blown away by it when I scoped it briefly a couple months ago, but Laptop was sufficiently impressed in its more in-depth hands on to compare it to the MacBook Air and Voodoo Envy—but you know, 0.2 inches thicker, more ports and you know, a thousand dollars cheaper at only $599.

Dell Inspiron Mini 12 Officially the Biggest Netbook on the BlockS

Under the hood, it's a standard netbook kit—1.6GHz Atom (though the more energy efficient next-gen one that lets it live for up to three hours on a 3-cell battery), smallish 40, 60 or 80GB hard drive, not a whole lotta RAM—though you've got a full-sized keyboard and 1280x800 12-inch screen. Unfortunately, it's only available with Vista at launch (which, also oddly, is only in Japan initially). Since Vista historically runs like garbage on these things, holding out through the late November debut here for the XP and Ubuntu variants coming by year's end would probably be more prudent.

Dell Inspiron Mini 12 Officially the Biggest Netbook on the BlockS

That said, the Mini 12 is definitely an interesting little experiment from Dell—a mutant mashup of netbook and notebook that might hit some heretofore undiscovered sweet spot, or simply look verrry attractive to some given the current economic climate. Update: Full press release below—apparently it's a Twitter machine too:

Slim, Stylish and Well-Connected: Introducing the Dell Inspiron Mini 12

* New Addition to the Dell Inspiron Mini Line Expands Personalization Options
* Available First in Japan Through Bic Camera, Kojima and Sofmap Stores
* Includes Windows Vista Home Basic, Webcam and Bluetooth

ROUND ROCK, Texas—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Dell today introduced the Inspiron™ Mini 12, a small, easy-to-carry Internet companion that you can fine tune to fit your specific needs and deeds. Like its counterpart the Inspiron Mini 9, the Mini 12 is ideal for teens, tweens, travelers and “Tweeters” to surf the Web1, chat with friends, blog, stream content, upload photos or enjoy online videos, music and games.

The Inspiron Mini 12 is available initially only in Japan through Bic Camera, Kojima and Sofmap stores and other retail outlets. It will launch online globally by late November with configurations starting under $600 (U.S.). Ubuntu and Windows XP® operating systems also will be available before the end of the year.

The News:

* With a starting weight of only 2.72 lbs.1 and only 0.92 in. thick1, current standard features on the Inspiron Mini 12 include:
o Windows Vista® Home Basic, built-in webcam, 1GB of RAM and a choice of 60 GB or 80 GB hard drive1, providing ample capacity for mobile applications, content creation and storage.
o Built-in Bluetooth® and 802.11b/g wireless.
o A sharp 12.1-inch WXGA display, offering wider viewing angles and exceptional brightness.
* Dell provides a variety of service offerings and add-on options to help ensure devices are easy to use and maintain optimal performance, including:
o Dell Support Center: Quickly access Dell service and support from an icon on your desktop that provides automated fixes, software upgrades and tools to help keep your system up-to-date and running efficiently.
o DellConnect™ Remote Assistance1: Dell experts help diagnose and solve PC problems via an Internet connection (available only on Windows-based systems).

If you are on Twitter and would like to join the conversation about the Inspiron Mini 12, follow www.twitter.com/hashtags, type your comment and end your tweet with #mini12.

[BusinessWire, Laptop]