Dell's Inspiron Zino HD is a compact PC that's suited for desktop duties or as a colourful media-centre PC - UPDATED 21 APRIL 2010

Make a PC small enough and you can hide it in the lounge without getting in anyone's way. Or even simply site it on the desktop, rather than leave it lurking on the floor under your desk.

That's what Apple did with its diminutive stunted-cube Mac mini, and it seems to have inspired Dell with this more inflated replica, the Dell Inspiron Zino HD.

Another attempt at Apple's mini form factor can be found in the PC Specialist Aurelia media centre PC.

The Dell Inspiron Zino HD is a little bigger than the Apple Mac mini, measuring a shade under 8in along each side against Apple's 6.5in. And it stands just over 3in tall instead of 2in. It has the same optical drive facing forward at the top, albeit a wobbly pop-out tray here rather than a slick slot-load mechanism.

But that drive can be a regular DVD±RW drive - or a Blu-ray-reading DVD writer, for an extra £140 on the base price.

Also on the front are two USB 2.0 ports and an SD card reader. The top lid is readily detachable, and Dell will sell you a coloured top for £20, or one with swirly patterns for £30.

Dell Inspiron Zino HD

At the back of the Dell Inspiron Zino HD are two more USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA, gigabit ethernet, audio-in and -out mini jacks, as well as HDMI and VGA video connectors

You can find a basic version of the Dell Inspiron Zino with an Intel Atom processor for £249, but we looked at the spritelier Dell Inspiron Zino HD which takes an AMD dual-core chip. As of the middle of April 2010, prices start at £329 for this model.

We were sent a Dell Inspiron Zino HD with better specs, including a dedicated graphics card and a Blu-ray drive, priced at £630.29.

Backing up the processor on our sample was 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. The extra space in the case means that Dell can fit a cheaper - but higher performance - 3.5in desktop drive, spinning at 7200rpm. Faster than the 5400rpm notebook drives often seen in such compact PCs and nettops, these 3.5in disk drives are however noisier and consume more power.

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