Pros Touchscreen, flip feature, good keyboard, sharp display, solidly built, good sound (for a netbook)
Cons Display viewing angles, a bit slow, few ports, awful Dell software--but you're not stuck with it.
Summary I asked my wife for one of these for Christmas back in November. In early December, I had the opportunity to try a demo model in a mall store. I had second thoughts. After playing around with the machine a bit, I managed to lock it up; the software was terribly sluggish, and viewing the screen at an angle left me a bit disappointed. I was changing my mind quickly, and my wife saw that too, but apparently she had already ordered one for me. Anyway, I ended up getting the Dell Inspiron Duo as a Christmas gift, and I was expecting to end up returning it. It was meant to replace my older Acer Aspire One, but I was no longer sure it could do the job.For those interested how I configured my Duo, please see my updated review and recommendations at http://sachi.sytes.net/techblog/?p=53
Well, I'm keeping it. Now even after a day I still wasn't sure, but each day I've used it, I've liked it more and more. The key is to remember that this is not an iPad and that the PC world is only now starting to "get" multi-touch. And in releasing this machine, I can assure you that Dell hasn't fixed this industry wide issue; in fact, the software that Dell ships with it is a primary example--underpowered and severely disappointing...but if one remembers that this is actually a real computer underneath and that you have choices, the game changes. As of now, I've turned most of the Dell software off; and like all PCs I've had before, I've had to custom tailor it. Once divorced of its lousy app software, the touchscreen is actually quite cool and works well. Just don't mistake it for an iPad--this is not an appliance and requires some effort to make it work the way you want it. There is no magic one size fits all configuration here. Anyway, once setup, Internet Explorer actually works very nicely as a touchscreen app. I've also found that Windows Media Center actually seems to work fantastic for pictures and video--very, VERY slick and far better than the Dell software which unfortunately cheapens this machine for no good reason (please reviewers--review this as a PC that just happens to have Dell's software on it; not as an appliance that depends on Dell's software to justify it's existence--i.e. just pretend that their software doesn't exist). As far as the hardware goes, overall I like it. Yes, my Acer has more ports--but quite frankly, I never used anything but the USB ports on it anyway, so I'm not really missing much. The screen has been reported to have limited viewing angles--and indeed it does--but it's no worse than my Acer, and once you get finished critiquing it and get down to acually using it, you mostly forget about it. When held at normal viewing angles, it's perfectly fine--with much better resolution than my Acer. The machine is not going to win awards for speed, but it is perfectly acceptable for a netbook running Win7. The flip screen, of course, is the star of the show, and there is simply no other machine that can compete with this. This alone is why you buy this machine. Flipping the screen converts the machine instantly into a decent (albeit thick and somewhat heavy) tablet, and the machine is able to detect whether you are holding it vertically or horizontally and adjust automatically. Now why do I want a tablet? Well, when it comes down to it, not a whole lot--but I have long wanted one for (a) reading vertically oriented material that requires color and/or a larger screen than my Kindle can deal with--pdfs in particular; (b) viewing and sharing photos; (c) running touch-screen apps that provide input into other software, such as games (i.e. TouchBuddy/TouchPal); and (d) for some styles of web browsing where I'm not doing much text input. For everything else that a touchpad is not good at (which to me is about 80% of the time), this is a real computer with a real keyboard and with tons more capability than a iPad for about the same (or less) money. So ultimately, how can you go wrong. If I had reviewed this machine after a day, it probably would have gotten 2 stars; after two days I would have given it 3 stars. Now after four days, I'm giving it 4 stars. Judging this machine by Dell's lousy software was an early mistake--their hardware and drivers, on the other hand are not half-bad, and coupled with some effort to configure this thing and learn how to use it, I think this machine and others like it have a bright future.
Updated on Jan 23, 2011
Pros absolutely gorgeous screen, lightweight, fast, large harddrive, hardware feels excellent
Cons DuoStage isn't great, the speakers are a little lame
Summary I've had this unit for about 18 hours. So far I'm very happy, but it's not the be-all-end all of what this unit could be.
First and foremost, the unit feels solid and well built. All the reviews say the same thing, but it's worth reiterating because of the unique form factor. I have absolutely zero concerns about busting the rotating mechanism.
The keyboard is exactly what I expected. Having never used a netbook extensively before, I wasn't sure if I would have trouble typing on a scaled down keyboard, but my worrying was for naught. I'm still making little adjustments but all in all it's been a smooth transition.
It does not have a billion ports. Personally, every computer I've ever had has had HDMI, SD reader, four or five USBs, a microphone jack (who uses such a thing anymore on a laptop??), etc. This has none of that. I don't need it, I never used anything but the headphone jack and the USBs on anything else, and I won't need it on this. I don't see why anyone would want to bulk up such an adorable little device with such things when, if you need them, they're almost all available as USB devices.
Part of why I bought this netbook instead of something else is that it's impossible to get the 2GB of memory in the price range, size and screen resolution this came in at. And with 280 some GB of storage it is not strictly a peripheral device, either, though it could be.
This is not a workhorse computer. It is not an iPad.
The only accessory I've purchased for it is an external optical drive. I could have done without-- the optical drive on my last laptop was broken for about 18 months and it only caused a problem for me maybe three times-- but I got a good deal on a nice slim LG drive and couldn't pass it up.
Video playback-- I watched some Netflix Streaming on it-- is a lot jumpy at first, but cleared up nicely.
The speakers on the unit are pretty lame. You can't have much ambient noise around you while you're listening to something. I haven't plugged in headphones yet, I'm sure that'll be just fine.
DuoStage is pretty lame. I've heard you can re-layer the icons to link to whatever program you choose rather than the stock programs, but I haven't gotten too deep into that yet. Here's hoping, because I will never use the stock programs.
I'm a casual user. I internet, I use documents, I play a couple of games, I stream a few videos, I listen to music. I don't code, or play intense games like WoW or whatever, I don't have a huge library of music, video and photos (my iTunes library comes in at under 40GB). If any of these things applied to me-- or if I were under the impression that the Duo was an iPad killer-- I'd be disappointed, I suspect. But for me, it's perfect, and I love the form factor.
I have two complaints about the build itself: one is that there's no dent in the clamshell to put your thumb in to make opening it easier. And two is that the cover on the back hiding the manufacturers stickers and the SIM card slot is positioned in such a fashion that I've accidentally opened it a number of times when moving around my closed Duo. That really needs to be in a different spot, or harder to take off. But those complaints are minor, and overall I'm pleased. I would recommend this unit to any casual user who wants a higly portable netbook that's got more kick and flash than most in it's class.
Pros Very nimble little machine.
Screen is very clear and sharp.
Smooth Transition from Tab to laptop mode.
Cons None really.
Summary Now for all you naysayer let me begin by saying. If you like Apple/MAC products you are not going to like this because it is not an Apple/MAC. It is a PC based product. Get over it. Ok!@nikecar
Now i was going to put a con of not having a SD card slot but didn't because it does have two USB slots and I have a SD Card reader that is small and fits with no problem. So it's a non-Issue for me.
The overall feel of the entire system is good. It is a little thick but not too bad. Most of the system is coated in a rubberized coating which makes gripping it a little easier.
The speed is pretty good I really cannot complain about that.
Is doesn't have a video out (IE. HDMI,VGA,DVI) which is not really an issue for me because I got it for its portability.
I have only had the system a couple days but I really like it and do not regret my decision. If I had to do it over again I wouldn't hesitate.
Updated on Dec 8, 2010
The idea of having an SD card reader in the system would be nice..Yes..Yes it would. I don't really have the need to do data transfers off an SD card on the fly.. so for me it's a non-issue..honestly how much trouble would it be to use a little SD card reader? You are probably going to have a little case of some sort to store the system anyway. So what's the big deal? There is no such thing as a perfect system NO matter what it is. Everything has some sort of draw back. Me personally I didn't buy this to do any really heavy lifting that is what I have my larger more powerful system at home for. This little system is nice hands down. Will it be around in two years? Maybe..maybe not?But for now it fill a niche that other systems don't offer, I-Pad included. Again if you don't like it don't get it or be critical about something you really don't know anything about. In my short time using the DUO I am really pleased and the price point is not really all that bad.
"AWESOME!!!!!"on by musiclover9898
Pros well built body, awesome display, responsive touch, awesome battery, keyboard is GENIUS!!!
Cons lacks vga port, card slot, and its a little slow. BUT ITS A NETBOOK!!!!
Summary bottom line, AWESOME COMPUTER!!!! great portable station. Not a powerhouse, but Its awesome for the note-taking, music listening, college kid that doesnt want to spend a fortune.
Pros Great design and form factor, a great system with good features, a great portable machine overall.
Cons Dell applications are pretty useless & battery life could be better.
Summary I am really pleased with this machine. After looking at the likes of the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab I decided to go for a Windows system and am really happy with this. I chose this over other tablets because I wanted to use my system as a PC with my software and also to manage my files - all of which the more specialised tablets are unable to do properly. I didn't like the way that the other tablets on the market seem geared to specific 'apps' rather than everyday integrated use - you couldn't replace your current portable with an iPad for example but this Dell is perfect.
It comes with a full copy of Windows and even though I soon disowned the included Dell software - which is practically useless in my opinion - I am very happy using Windows 7 with its native touch components. As soon as I move to something more intensive I can simply flip the screen and continue with a mouse and keyboard - this gives you a lot more flexibility and ways to use this machine.
The battery life is not great but its not a huge problem personally. It is also a bit slow when lots is going on but no more than any other netbook.
Overall I am very pleased with this machine and would highly recommend it.