Dell Inspiron Duo Hybrid Tablet / Netbook Review

Introduction and Specifications

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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