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We consumers can be a demanding lot. We want ever more powerful setups in ever smaller packages, and they need to cost less than previous generation products too. When we first saw the Mesh Cute, we thought it might be the answer to many people’s prayers. After all, it was a fully functional and relatively powerful desktop PC with TV tuner and Blu-ray crammed into a 300 x 300 x 165mm case, all for under £400. Unfortunately it was also heavy, noisy, slightly cheap-looking and suffered from build quality issues. Is Dell’s Inspiron Zino HD what the Cute should have been?
Not to be confused with the vanilla Inspiron Zino, which is an Atom-based desktop that doesn’t have the power to cope with some everyday tasks let alone HD video, the Zino HD is a proper desktop computer. Indeed, though CPU and GPU options are somewhat limited, you can configure one with up to 8GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive.
Getting back to the Cute VS Zino HD comparison, by looks alone the Dell is the clear winner. In fact, barring the Apple Mac mini it’s pretty much the most attractive non-Atom desktop PC we’ve laid eyes on. It measures a diminutive 197 x 197 x 85mm and weighs a mere 1.6kg. Its gentle curves, symmetry and neatly integrated white-backlit power button contribute to a machine that wouldn’t look out of place on a designer desktop or below a television costing a few grand, and it’s certainly a lot cuter than the Cute. Nor will you see any disfiguring ventilation openings (apart from the single fan at the back), as these are cleverly hidden in the slightly raised base.
As with most of Dell’s popular consumer laptop and some desktop lines, the Zino HD’s looks are also highly customisable with a veritable plethora of colour and design choices for its top. These include the piano black of our sample, blue, green, orange, pink, purple and red as well as Horizonte del Infinito, Green Scatter and Red Swirl. The latter, an organic pattern of various shades of red on a white background, is my favourite choice but there should be something for everyone. The top ‘lid’ is a doddle to replace as it comes off by simply pressing a button at the chassis’ rear and clicks easily back into place.
Unfortunately the glossy finish loves fingerprints and dust as much as ever and scratches easily, but this is less of an issue on a machine you don’t need to touch often compared to the laptops we frequently complain about. Build quality is decent though not exactly the sturdiest around, so this system will need to be treated with a little care. The interchangeable top panel flexes a little but the main chassis doesn’t suffer from obvious weaknesses.
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