The version we tested has a Blu-ray drive, a triple-core AMD Phenom II X3 P840 processor and a dedicated ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5450 graphics card. It's available directly from Dell as the Zino HD 410(D00Z4110) for £528.99, and this test only refers to that version.
Other models have a DVD reader-writer instead of a Blu-ray drive, a less powerful processor and graphics cards that can't decode HD audio formats.
Hardware: small but full of connectivity
When you take it out of the box, the Inspiron Zino HD 410 is a black, glossy unit, which is the perfect recipe for greasy fingerprints. But if you pay an extra £19.99, you can choose a different colour case.
The Blu-ray drive, an optional extra, spins very quickly and makes a lot of noise when you're installing software or first start playing a game, but it calms down after a while. You can also hear it when watching a Blu-ray disc or DVD (PowerDVD 9.5 comes pre-installed).
Even the most basic versions come with a wireless keyboard and mouse that work with a USB adaptor that handles both devices, which is a bit annoying as it blocks one of the four USB ports the whole time. Dell could have easily have included an internal wireless controller which would have been much better. Looking at the devices themselves, the mouse is about as disappointing as the keyboard is impressive: two AA batteries make it heavy and cumbersome. The glossy black finish isn't a great choice either and easily ends up covered with greasy fingerprints.
There's nothing really missing among the inputs and outputs, with four USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA ports (one could easily make way for an extra USB port), a headphone jack at the front, a microphone jack, an SPDIF audio output, a card reader, an Ethernet port and HDMI and VGA video outputs.
Front view: headphone jack, 2 x USB 2.0 ports and a card reader
Top cover: plenty of greasy fingerprints
The Zino HD 410 and the mouse and keyboard
Processor Power: pretty average
The AMD Phenom II X3 P840 in our test model didn't put in an exceptional performance, but it's still powerful enough for office work or playing audio and video. According to our test results, it achieved a score of 68, compared to an index of 100 set by the Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi3650, which has an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 processor. It's also perfectly possible to use the Zino HD 410 for editing photos or encoding HD video, but that's not something we suggest you try very often as tasks like that take a long time with such an average processor.
Switched off, the power consumption is at 1 W and climbs to 30 W by the time you reach the Windows desktop. When you actually start using it, consumption almost doubles to 54 W. Playing a Blu-ray disc requires 43 W, and Windows standby uses 2 W.
With Windows 7, the Zino takes 52 seconds to start up and load the Windows desktop, and another ten or so to load most other software, antivirus excepted. It takes 17 seconds to switch off.
3D Gaming: very limited
Like the earlier Zino HD, you can't really say that this is a computer designed for avid gamers. If you still want to give it a go, you'll soon realise that the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5450, the best graphics card available on the Zino HD 410, is still pretty basic. The best we managed was some older titles like World in Conflict with the resolution and details turned down to medium.
Audio: a great all-rounder
One thing the HD 5440 graphics card can do is provide an HD audio signal via the HDMI port, which is the best way to use a computer like this to power your Home Cinema. Alternatively, if you're using it on your desk, there's a headphone jack at the front. It's good quality and produces a signal that's as good as the one provided by the line out at the back. Finally, you can also use the SPDIF output at the back if you stick to 5.1 and non HD audio. It's a good option if you already have an external speaker kit and was something that was conspicuous by its absence on the first Zino HD.
Home Cinema Configuration
The first of option to choose has to be the Blu-ray player, the heart of any serious Home Cinema system. The second choice is one for demanding listeners: not all ATI HD 4200 graphics cards can send HD audio over the HDMI output, so upgrading to the HD 5440 gives you access to DTS HD, Dolby True HD and eight-channel PCM. Depending on which option you choose, the final cost can vary.
- HDMI output for audio and video
- Blu-ray player optional
- SPDIF output
- Wireless keyboard and mouse require USB connector
- Loud overall
- Entirely plastic finish
- No Blu-ray finish in the basic version
Don't choose the Dell Inspiron Zino HD 410 for your front room if all you need is a media player: a dedicated device will be cheaper and better-suited. If you need an extra computer for surfing the web or doing some office work though, it can be a great little addition to your desktop.