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Finally then, how does this tiny box hold up to the competition? First let’s compare to the Mesh Cute. The Cute costs £345 for its base configuration, which gets you a faster 3GHz Athlon II X2 CPU and 4GB of RAM compared to the £329 Zino HD with Athlon X2 1.5GHz and 3GB of RAM, all other specifications being similar. Between these two configurations there’s very little to choose from, as for its intended market the Zino offers adequate processing power and is superior in every other respect, being quieter, smaller, better-looking and better-built. However, the Cute offers more flexibility. Unfortunately, since our review it would appear Mesh has dropped the discrete HD 4550 graphics card and Phenom II Black Edition 3.1GHz CPU options, eliminating the Cute as a low-end gaming machine, but the company still offers a Blu-ray writer and digital Dual DVB-T Tuner – neither of which are options on the Zino HD.
With its 1.5GHz CPU and 4GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD, Blu-ray drive and Wireless N, the Zino HD will set you back around £570, and adding the same HD 4330 as on our review model ups this to £630.29. For this amount of money you can get quite a powerful full-size PC, like the CyberPower Hercules i5, but you’re obviously paying a premium for the Zino’s small footprint.
A Mac mini is a more obvious alternative, but lacks a Blu-ray option and will set you back significantly more for a roughly similar specification – albeit with a more powerful Core 2 Duo 2.26GHz processor.
Alternatively, if tiny is what you’re after and you’re on a tight budget it’s also worth considering the likes of the Acer Aspire Revo. Though far less powerful, it’s adequate to run most HD material (barring YouTube HD), and with an external Blu-ray drive plus playback software should still set you back less than £400.
Though it’s not exactly the best value proposition around, Dell’s Zino HD offers pretty much the ideal combination of size, power and features for the perfect home theatre or small desktop PC. As long as you aren’t interested in gaming and aren't tempted by a Mac mini, this is one very attractive machine!
Addendum: Since the writing of this review Dell has added a new processor option bringing the base price down to £279.
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