Dell's eagerly-awaited notebook, the Inspiron Mini 12,will be offered on sale in Japan before the US and Europe.

Three Japanese retailers (Bic Camera, Kojima and Sofmap) will get the first crack at selling pre-configured versions of Dell's 12.1-inch take on the mini-note space.

The new machine will have a screen larger than most a netbook with a 12.1-inch CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp) illuminated screen and weighs 1.23kg. It is powered by Intel's Atom Z520 1.33-GHz processor or the Z530 1.6-GHz 2-watt Menlo Silverthorn processors. These units also house a 40, 60, or 80GB 1.8-inch 4200 rpm hard driv.

The base system comes with a 3-cell processor, which Dell said would yield three hours battery life. (And optional 6-cell exists, but that tacks on another $30 to the price.). The machine offers Vista as the default operating system.

Dell's new mini-notes also pack in a VGA out (only slightly smaller than the thickness of the device), three USB ports, a SD / MMC flash card slot, an RJ-45 ethernet 10/100 jack, a 1.3 megapixel camera, and the ability to transmit Bluetooth 2.1 and 802.11 b/g. The PC retails etween $500(£300)  and $600(£370), depending on configuration options.