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Dell Inspiron Zino HD - Dell Inspiron Zino HD

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


At the Zino HD’s front we have a tray-loading slimline Blu-ray drive, though the base model comes with a DVD-Rewriter (the former is a £140 upgrade). While many high-end ‘designer’ machines opt for slot-loading drives instead, Dell’s choice here offers more flexibility - slot-loading drives can’t handle mini or odd-shaped CDs - less chance for dust to get in and is cheaper, thus keeping the overall cost down.

As far as connectivity goes, the Zino HD offers nearly everything you could want. At the front are a headphone socket, two USB ports and a memory card reader. The back houses another two plain USB ports and two combined eSATA/USB ports, which is a great touch for those who want fast access to multiple external storage devices before USB 3.0 becomes standard and a rare find on any desktop machine.

There’s a Gigabit Ethernet port and the classic pink and green microphone and lineout sockets, though no analogue or dedicated digital audio outputs for surround sound. Finally for video we have VGA and HDMI. Though it’s a bit confusing that Dell only mentions 2.1/stereo audio output on its website, fear not as this just refers to the analogue outputs and HDMI carries full 5.1 surround sound.

In use the Zino HD emits an audible but unobtrusive hum, and gets warm though not hot to the touch. Overall it makes for a great user experience. Its external power brick is large but can be easily hidden away, and we’re glad Dell has chosen to go this route - as to include the PSU in the Zino itself would have led to an unfortunate increase in size.

Speaking of user experience, the included wireless mouse and keyboard are surprisingly good. It’s the same set that Dell has been bundling with its premium desktop machines for a while and offers decent build quality and good looks. Both the mouse and keyboard run off standard AA batteries making it easy to use rechargeable ones. The accompanying dongle is a bit on the large side compared to recent efforts from Microsoft and Logitech but at least looks the part in semi-transparent black garb.

The keyboard has a neat and fairly standard layout, though the Page Up/Down key cluster layout is slightly altered to be narrower than usual. Key feedback is soft but well-defined, and the matte surround extends to offer a comfortable palm-rest. A glossy strip along the top houses application shortcuts to the left and media controls to the right, while the volume wheel is a stylish highlight.

On the other hand the ambidextrous mouse is as basic as it gets with just two buttons and a two-way scroll wheel. In terms of design it has matte sides and a glossy top that attracts the usual blemishes. As for ergonomics, it's relatively comfortable, though nothing too clever. Its buttons have a positive click and the rubberised wheel provides notched feedback.


February 11, 2010, 2:00 pm

You sure about the ethernet port not being gigabit? Every online reference I can find says it is. Not that it matters, the ones I saw in PC-City the other day were a bit too loud for me.


February 11, 2010, 4:13 pm

@worth considering the likes of the Acer Aspire Revo. Though far less powerful, it’s adequate to run most HD material (barring YouTube HD)

I think even YouTube HD is now possible on the little Revo :)


Have to admit the Revo is a cracking buy, even if your not on a tight budget.


February 11, 2010, 5:26 pm

"Of course Blu-ray playback... high definition video was not a problem,the Zino HD kept CPU load well under 60 per cent on average"

60%, will tolerable seems quite high to me.

I have an ASRock ION ( 4GB RAM with 500mb dedicated to the Nvidia GPU) and I get less than 20% (12-17% on average) on Bluray playback. The ASRock instant boot is great and has all the major features of this unit, albeit no mouse/keyboard or OS but it will still be up and running for far less..

Flash 10 was even optimised around ION so that works well too.

Case proven m'lord


February 11, 2010, 10:22 pm

@Chocoa, yes the Revo uses the ION and I have to agree 60% CPU seems very high.

Also when you consider you can get a Revo for £140 it makes the Dell seem very expensive.


February 25, 2010, 10:23 pm


Thanks for pointing that out and sorry about that mistake. It does indeed have Gigabit Ethernet and the review has been corrected.


True, 720p Flash is now working, making the Revo an even more attractive alternative.

Don't forget to factor extras like an external optical drive into the Revo's price.


"Well under"; the actual average was lower.

Out of interest, what software do you use on the ASRock and what's maximum load?


April 28, 2010, 5:18 pm

I really enjoyed this review! Not sure if the Mac mini is that interesting any longer...

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