Dell documents reveal 12-inch netbook

— 6:00 AM on October 16, 2008

This summer, Dell arrived late to the netbook scene with a "me too" product: the Inspiron Mini 9, which would look like any other 8.9" netbook if it weren't for an innovative keyboard and stylish exterior. Well, the Texan PC maker could be about to break some new ground with its next stab at the concept.

Engadget has uncovered evidence that Dell is cooking up an Inspiron Mini 12. According to documents that are still up on Dell's website, the Mini 12 (or Inspiron 1210) will feature an Intel Atom Z520 or Z530 processor, 1GB of memory, some type of hard disk drive, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Windows Vista and—wait for it—a 12.1" display with a 1280x800 resolution.

Right now, even the priciest netbooks from Asus, Acer, and MSI have 10" displays with 1024x600 resolutions. This 12.1" specimen could mix portability, low cost, and lower power usage with screen real estate that's on the same level as full-sized notebooks. Heck, even the display in Apple's new $1,299 aluminum MacBook has a 1280x800 res. Also, as we've seen with the Asus Eee PC 1000H, the use of a mechanical hard drive can make a netbook feel much more like a "real" laptop.

A possible shot of the Inspiron Mini 12 we grabbed from Dell's service manual. Source: Dell.

That leaves the question of how much Dell will charge for the thing (assuming it actually comes out, of course). The Mini 9's $349 price tag suggests Dell doesn't kid itself about what users are prepared to spend for netbooks, and since the company offers full-sized laptops for $499, it could have no choice but to price the Mini 12 at least somewhere below $500. That would put the machine in the same price range as Asus' Eee PC 1000H and other 10" netbooks.

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