The Dell Inspiron Duo is a cross between a net-book and a tablet, combining the best and worst of both worlds on a Microsoft Windows® 7 package. With a display screen of 10.1 inches, which is multi-touch, 1.6GHz Intel Atom® dual core processor, 2GHz DDR3 SDRAM and a 320GB HD those specifications are very nice for a tablet. However, it’s Windows® 7 Home Premium, 32-bit.

One of the nicest features is the touch screen that works both in tablet and net-book position. When the screen is flipped it automatically brings up several menus: music, photo, video, books, internet, paint, and games. It has all the standard games plus a few additional games designed for the touch screen. Another nice feature is that third-party games will show up in the menu as well. Pre-installed software allows access to your photos on the computer as well as Facebook, Flickr, and additional other apps that can be installed. Using the VideoStage software allows you to access your own video content as well as browse CinemaNows library and buy or rent movies to watch. I was unable to locate any television shows. The paint program is excellent for kids to play with.

To test the touch screen with a third-party application, I installed NOOK for PC to use as a reading device. Navigation and page turning was easy and smooth. It has a keyboard hidden off to the side in case you need to type in anything. One of the nice things about the touch interface is the ease of use with Windows Media Center. If used with a Home Media Server, it is an easy way to watch your own content without storing it locally. One draw back is the play back of HD content both local and over the network. The playback is choppy and often stops to buffer. I’ve experimented with 1080p, 720p, and 480p (the last of which provided smooth playback). I feel this is partially due to the fact that it is running on Windows 7.

Another test I ran was mounting it in my RAM Mount and hooking up a GPS device and wireless card to run Google Earth to track my route. It worked out nicely.

As a net-book the feel of the keyboard is much nicer than other net-books I have used. The keys feel spaced out and work well for people with larger hands. For a small portable computer it has the necessary hardware to run needed applications and a few small scale games. I primarily bought the laptop for my fiance to replace her ASUS net-book and she enjoys it much better.

For a small, versatile net-book / tablet it works well and serves it’s intended purpose. It isn’t an iPad or an Android tablet, but people familiar with a Windows platform will find it nice. For the average consumer who is looking to transfer into the tablet market, but isn’t really sure, this would make the transition easier. With Windows 8 right around the corner and the hardware already purchased it could make for a good tablet.

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5 Responses

  1. Leapo

    It may be worthwhile to mention the lack of pen/stylus support on this convertible notebook. Yes, you can use a capacitive stylus, but those are a hack and the genuinely don’t work very well (the device cannot tell the difference between the tip of the stylus and your balm brushing the surface as you use the stylus).

  2. Leapo

    The primary competition for this Dell is probably from HP’s TouchSmart TM2 series. They feature a capacitive screen with multitouch, as well as a full Wacom Digitizer. This allows a real stylus with pressure sensitivity and multiple buttons to be used with the TouchSmart, and also allows the oeprating system to tell the difference between the pen being used and your fingers being used (so it can disable touch input while you’re using the pen and prevent misclicks.) This is also a boon to those looking to use their tablet for anything artsy, as it allows it to double as a what basically amounts to a Wacom Cintique.

    Windows 7, which this Dell tablet comes preloaded with, also features some of the most robust handwriting recognition available. I still find handwriting to be far superior to using non-tactile on-screen keyboards, so proper stylus support would be of added benefit for text input as well.

    Takes away a lot of value from the Dell by omitting that one simple thing, I think.

  3. HNet

    Leapo, you have a good point. However, I think this is geared towards the average users. When the screen is flipped it brings up a simple user interface that is designed to consume media. It is not a business solution and does not offer any writing applications when in tablet mode. The paint program its self is targeted towards kids. Remember the Dell Inspiron DUO is a laptop first and tablet second.

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