Dell Inspiron Duo Hybrid Tablet / Netbook Review - HotHardware

Dell Inspiron Duo Hybrid Tablet / Netbook Review

35 thumbs up

Like we said in the opener, the design of the Inspiron Duo is second to none. It has won a number of design awards, and deservedly so. The flip/swivel screen is excellent. What's even more impressive is just how solid and fluid the swivel feels. You can really tell that Dell poured a lot of time and effort into perfecting this piece. It locks into place when you want to, and the swivel is extremely smooth when you want it to flip. There are no loose hinges; everything is perfectly tight and perfectly engineered. It's just great to play with. We found ourselves enamored with the panel, and just flipping it from netbook to tablet mode was entertaining in and of itself.

At 3.39 pounds, it's hardly any heavier than your standard netbook, and the 10.1" screen provides a standard 1366x768 screen resolution and enough room for a nicely sized chiclet keyboard. Dell has also done a good job keeping the bezel thin and the line between the swiveling LCD and the plastic remarkably thin. You can barely tell that it's there. The textured lid was nice in our estimation, and the trackpad was nicely sized for a netbook. We liked the fact that it was texture-less; perfectly smooth and easy to navigate. The separate left/right mouse buttons were also very much appreciated, and the click travel was ideal. It's rare that we get to say both of those things in a netbook review.

Dell also kept the palm rest stickers to a minimum (only 3!), and there's also very little going on around the edges. While the machine looks a lot like a netbook, the port selection resembles that of a tablet. There are no ports on the front and back edges, and the left edge is only home to a headphone jack and two USB 2.0 ports (all of which are covered by a plastic shield that can be popped up when you need access).

There are no ports at all on the right edge, only a power button. Tucked just under that edge is a speaker. On the bottom, there's a subtle docking connector which allows the machine to sit upright in the JBL speaker dock (a $50 option). This means that you can dock your machine for use with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard since a BT module is included, and that dock also provides an Ethernet jack, SD card slot, two more USB 2.0 ports and another audio jack. There are separate AC inputs on the device itself and on the dock, and the AC updater for each is differently sized. So forget about carrying only one cable when you travel; you'll need both.

There's no optical drive, and surprisingly, no media card slot on the Duo itself. There's also no video output. We cannot recall another 10.1" netbook that lacks a video output port of some kind; even the optional JBL dock doesn't have a video output. This fact alone leads us to believe that Dell intends for this to be a tablet first, and a netbook second.

However, there's a full copy (32-bit) of Windows 7 Home Premium, so don't worry about limited functionality from the software side. The keyboard and mousepad were both very rigid and solid, and overall, we felt that this was one of the more solid netbooks on the market. At $550, we didn't expect anything less, but it's always good to see a company live up to expectations.

Article Index:

1 2 Next
+ -

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

+ -

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.


+ -

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.

+ -

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.

+ -

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

+ -

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

+ -

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.

+ -

I have heard alot of battery life complaints

+ -

I will just say interesting...

+ -

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

1 2 Next
Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: