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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dell takes on Mac mini with Studio Hybrid

Dell leapt into the mini desktop business with the Studio Hybrid. The system is described as the company's "first step" in eco-friendly PCs and uses notebook components to dramatically reduce both its size and power draw; where a tower uses a 300-watt supply, the Hybrid uses well under 65 watts and is 80 percent smaller than even a mini tower, the company tells Electronista. The company also promises that the system "leaves the Mac mini behind" with the option of a Blu-ray drive for HD video, HDMI video out, an 8-in-1 card reader and the choice of a TV tuner. Personalization is an extra advantage, the company adds: although several acrylic shell colors are available including Topaz and Ruby, the system can also be wrapped in a bamboo finish and changed on the fly through a swappable sleeve. The design can either sit horizontally on a desk or upright by using a special stand.

The system is also fast enough to be used as a main or home theater PC, Dell notes, where Atom-based computers like ASUS' Eee Box are better used as "vacation home terminals" or otherwise secondary machines.

Dell is still finalizing its trim levels but plans to undercut Apple and others in the class through price, with a $499 system coming equipped with a 1.73GHz Pentium dual-core processor, 1GB of memory, and a 160GB hard disk loaded with Windows Vista. Top-end models should scale up to a 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo with 4GB of memory, 320GB of disk space and both the previously mentioned Blu-ray option as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. An RF-based wireless keyboard is also a choice for across-the-room use.

The Studio Hybrid is available Tuesday from Dell itself and should be available through other channels during the fall.

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