Dell has been pretty busy of late in the netbook market, what with the high profile launch of the shiny little Inspiron Mini 9 that caught the attention of media and public alike.

About six weeks ago I was writing about how Tesco, the British supermarket giant, had slipped up and put details of a 12 inch Dell netbook on its website. At the time, the Tesco website had some details of the specs and a note saying "available week commencing 6th October."

Now it seems that Tesco got it kind of half right in getting it all wrong. Dell has finally come clean and released the Inspiron Mini 12 into the Japanese market. No word of any US or European launch date, but you can imagine that these will follow by the end of the year or early next at latest.

If it does launch at the price that Tesco was originally showing, UKP £299, that would be quite some deal considering the Ubuntu powered Mini 9 is selling for UKP £269 in Britain. This would seem likely, given that the release date apart Tesco did have the spec pretty much spot on.

Talking of which, the Inspiron Mini 12 (which is hardly mini to be honest, when compared to most of the netbook market) comes with a 12 inch screen running at 1280 x 800, is powered by 1.6GHz Atom Z530, weighs in at 1.2Kg, packs 1GB RAM and 80GB of solid state storage at the top end of the options list. Users can choose between Ubuntu or Windows XP as an OS.

My personal opinion on this would be that it strikes me as an odd choice of screen size for a netbook. The whole point is to keep 'em small and cheap, and for me that means a sub 9 inch screen. If you move up to a 12 inch screen then you might as well move up to a 'proper' laptop spec as well. After all, there are plenty around to compete on size and price which will eat the Mini 12 for dinner on performance and spec.