Dell Inspiron Duo Hybrid Tablet / Netbook Review - HotHardware

Dell Inspiron Duo Hybrid Tablet / Netbook Review

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The Dell Inspiron Duo is an impressive sight. It's not often that we're this enamored by a device's physical design, but the Dell Inspiron Duo simply does it for us. The machine is a feat of engineering, and it really redefines the convertible laptop segment. This 10.1" machine is part netbook, part tablet, but unlike many rivals, it doesn't compromise much in terms or portability and form factor to be both. When you open up the package, it looks like a Mini 10 or any other 10" netbook.

But once the lid is open, a simple press on the LCD allows it to swivel around and lock into place, in reverse. Close the lid back down atop the keyboard, and you're now looking at a tablet. It's one of the more innovative notebook designs we've seen in recent memory, and we cannot applaud Dell's engineering team enough for both thinking of this implementation and nailing it with such precision.

Outside of the crazy design, the machine is a rather standard netbook on the inside. There's an Atom CPU, a chiclet keyboard and a 32-bit copy of Windows 7 Home Premium. The Duo starts at $549.99, making it one of the more affordable convertible tablets out there. Let's take a more detailed look at the specifications:

Dell Inspiron Duo: 10.1" Convertible Netbook/Tablet Hybrid
Specifications and Features (as tested)
  • Intel Atom N550 (1.5GHz; dual-core; 1MB cache)
  • 2GB of DDR3 RAM 
  • 10.1" Multi-Touch LCD (1366x768 resolution)
  • Intel HD integrated NM10 GPU
  • 320GB Hitachi Travelstar Z7K320 7200RPM HDD
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • No optical drive
  • 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • No video outputs
  • USB 2.0 x 2
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet 10/100)- Via Dock
  • Headphone Port
  • SD / MMC / SDHC Multimedia Card Reader (Via Dock)
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Chiclet Keyboard
  • Gesture-Enabled Trackpad
  • 3.39 Pounds (with 4-cell battery installed)
  • Removable 4-Cell Li-ion Battery (29Whr; up to 3 hours, 57 minutes of claimed life)
  • 11.22" (W) x 7.66" (D) x 1.03 - 1.13" (H) (Dimensions)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit)
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • Price (base): $549.99
  • Price (as tested): $599.99 (with JBL Docking Station)

As you can see here, the $549.99 price tag ($50 more with the JBL docking station, which adds two more USB 2.0 ports, an SD card slot and Ethernet port) is largely due to the relatively slow specifications. It's pretty much the only way Dell could make this machine somewhat attractive from a pricing standpoint, but did they cut too many corners in terms of horsepower? The design is only able to be truly appreciated if the hardware is there to make the user experience a good one, so join us in the pages below for our full review, benchmarks and all.

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Looks like all the deficiencies of a Windows tablet plus the bulk of a notebook.  Ouch.

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Its a nice implementation a Hybrid tablet , but the hardware isn't up to task , neither is WIN 7, you would think that a successful company like Dell would have known better.

Nice Video review Dave, I always enjoy them and would also like that Marco can do videos along with his reviews, as well as other Editors.

One thing that I would suggest , is that you appear in your videos, its very important that people see you, since you are one of the primary representative of HH, and someone that , readers look up to or appeal to, to guide or teach them about technology and the products that you review.

Also , I think that the White background isn't too appealing and causes white balance issues with the camera. Try different background for each review,say , wooden desk or wooden table, kitchen table ect.  

Edit: A Green Screen and chroma keying would help a lot.

This goes to Jen also , we only get to see her hands in the reviews. Its time that people see her, and I wanna add that she is very attractive, and she can bring lots of female readers and motivate female participation in the forum.


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I'd have to disagree.... i like not seeing the person (no offence Dave). I want to see the product and what its capable of doing and it actually running and having a voice narration.

Perhaps its just me, but whenever i see a person reviewing a product, two things go off in my mind:

1) its an instant sales pitch type technique. Unless they're doing something, for example building a pc.

2) i wonder how much company ________ paid them.

I'm always instantly reminded of the shopping channel and those gimmicks (beautiful women and profound use of adjectives) to sell, Sell SELL.

Perhaps i'm against change, i like it the way it is.

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Now on the product... i'm wondering how durable those rotating hinges will be. I've had a Latitude D series, hinges broke like every 8 months... Latitude E, 6 months into it.... and i think i need to get the hinges tightened.

I REALLY like this device... very cool!! especially the dock and all!

Might I say something here.... 600$ sure a better CPU would have been better.... But this thing looks more productive than tablet pc's. Im pretty sure that someone at xda will be able to get honeycomb to work on this, which will be very cool! perhaps through the sdk or natively. I can see myself investing in this device. Though, would have preferred a video out. I'm sure future iterations of the device will be much better.

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I was going to post a long thoughtful comment but for some reason the page keeps refreshing and deleting my comment and its pissing me off, I'm using google chrome on windows 7 home premium.

Is this HotHardwares website, my browser or my computer?

Its REALLY annoying

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Its happened to me a few times as well... i make it a habit that if i'm writing more than 2 lines, i quickly "ctrl+a" then "ctrl+c", just in case (highlight all, copy)

The amount of times i've written something long, only to have it disappear cause i hit backspace, and instead of deleting the word, it goes back to the main page... makes me go Arghh, coolice smashh, hahaha.

the quick ctrl+a's then ctrl+c's saves me a ton of time from rewriting sometimes

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When you are using a device that does not even enable all the touch or tabletPC features of the OS, you should really rethink what you say regarding the OS.

Win7 is a touch and tablet OS, in fact it is using the technology where the term TabletPC comes from.

However, sadly Dell is not using the right drivers and enabling these features in Windows 7.

The keyboard you complain about is the 'Accessiblity Keyboard', not the touch or TabletPC keyboard that does pop in and out, but it is not enabled on the Dell, and you should yell at Dell, not say inccorrent things about Windows 7.

Stating that Windows7 is not a Tablet OS is just insane.

Side notes that most people don't realize because leaving Plato's cave scares them...

• Win7 Includes updated versions of all the TabletPC features from WindowsXP TabletPC edition.

• Win7 supports more touch driver support than the iPad

• Win7 has more Touch APIs than the iPad

• Win7 has a robust virtually 100% accurate handwriting recognition system.

• Win7 inherently understands and uses 'ink' data for touch and handwriting. So your flick and pressure and stroke is also stored when painting or writing, just just the coordinates of where you touched the screen.

If you still think Win7 is not designed for touch or tablets, go look at Microsoft Surface. It is just running Windows 7 with a few custom applications. It is using the inherent Win7 touch APIs and the Win7 touch driver model. (Seriously, it is just Win7 with a few fancy custom applicaitons, nothing is changed in the Win7 OS.)

For example Win7 supports 50 points of simutaneous touch, and each point reports various information like pressure. The 50 points can also use image based point tracking (like Surface does), which means Win7 can inherently see what is touching the screen, so you could use a paint brush or set a phone on it, and these are all active touch points based on imaging.

(This last paragraph is just a taste of the touch features BUILT IN TO Windows 7 that are not possible on the iPad/iOS/OS X/Any other OS in the world.)

Win7 also has a full set of APIs that greatly out number the touch inteface APIs in the iPad. You can see this in just looking at 'Ink' data that Windows understands and can be used with touch and stylus usage.

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I have heard alot of battery life complaints

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I will just say interesting...

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It does look pretty odd. Almost like it just screams break me.

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