Dell Inspiron Duo
Flip your lid
Review Devices that try to reconcile the essentially irreconcilable often come a cropper. As the Good Book says, “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Trying to combine the best of the netbook with the best of the tablet is what Dell’s new Inspiron Duo is all about, but does it work as either, let alone both?
Back in the fold: Dell's Inspiron Duo
First off a word about the lid assembly and screen mount which is the Duo’s party piece. The lid itself opens and shuts just like any other netbook but the screen can pivot through 180 degrees within the lid frame, so it can face inwards to work as a regular laptop or outwards to work as a tablet. Small magnets keep it in place in either position. The design looks fragile but it’s not actually, so durability shouldn’t be an issue.
And a nice screen it is too. It’s only the netbook norm 10.1in corner-to-corner but the resolution is a healthy 1366 x 768. It’s also glossy and capacitive to the benefit of how it looks and how it works when touched. However, it has a less than robust tolerance to viewing angles, especially about the horizontal plane.
Take a shufti around the exterior of the Dell Duo and you will find two USB ports and 3.5mm audio in/out jacks all hidden behind panels on the left... and, well, actually, that’s it. No SD card reader, no more USB ports, no HDMI socket. Dell seems to have decided we don’t actually need the usual netbook array of ports. I beg to differ, however.
If you do want two extra USB ports, an Ethernet socket and a card reader, then you will have to cough up £100 for the JBL-endorsed speaker dock, the Inspiron Duo Audio Station. I’m sure the dock is a great bit of kit and a worthwhile investment if you plan on watching a lot of video on our Duo. Even so, removing expected connections from a small laptop to help flog a desktop accessories is still daft.
A turn up for the netbooks
The Duo’s chiclet keyboard is solid affair with well spaced flat topped keys that have a clean and positive action. The layout looks a tad odd due to the rounded corners of each key but I’ve no complaints about how it works, and the same goes for the multi-touch trackpad and two-piece click bar.
Next page: Working in Stages
Please use graphs that start from zero
The "Memory" comparison graph, for example, doesn't start from zero in the horizontal axis, giving the false first-glance impression that the Toshiba is ten times faster than the Samsung in terms of memory speed. But many readers may miss the fact that the values are actually very close together, even between max and min (2488 versus 2139). You might say that discerning readers can tell the difference, but aren't graphs designed to provide immediate visual cues about relative numerical values? If the "Memory" chart had started from zero instead of 2100 in the horizontal axis, it would take only one second to tell that the five notebooks are closely grouped together. For those wanting finer distinctions, these same zero-start graphs will do just fine, or just read the numbers.
Just my small contribution to make a great web publication better.
Worst of both worlds
Too heavy for a tablet.
Not expandable enough for a netbook.
Too poor a battery life for both. Well done Dell, another corker to go alongside the Streak of P***
The very same thing with a Tegra 2 CPU and Android 3.x could be great. With an Atom CPU and Windows 7 on the other hand... bad idea.
He probably needs opposable digits first.
looks less fun
but is a whole lot more - 256 levels of touch sensitivity with the built in wacom digitiser and pen?
HDMI out too with out docking station and up to 7 hours battery life (and it does come close to this).
Do I need to mention th 4gb ram and free external dvd writer?
They cost about 550 now so it's a much better deal then this franky one trick pony Dell. I bought one last year and love it.