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Inspiron Duo's big debut: Nine months too late?

Dell's new take on a convertible tablet/laptop gets revealed, but is it just another spin on the same old device?

New idea, or just another spin on the old convertible tablet?
New idea, or just another spin on the old convertible tablet?
James Martin/CNET

Dell's reveal of a 10-inch Netbook/tablet hybrid, called the Inspiron Duo, at IDF 2010 is a bit interesting: it has a funky flip-hinge built into its framelike upper lid, folds flat, and has a touch screen. But, we've seen this device before. In fact, it was shown behind supersecret closed doors, in a nonworking prototype format, back at CES 2010, along with other future-oriented NDA-covered items that seemed more concept than reality. Packing a dual-core Atom N550 processor, it's basically a Netbook/tablet with Windows 7 touch support, not unlike the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t.

Back then, the device looked like it would at least have a very tabletlike thin design, unlike many bulkier Windows 7 latop/tablets that can feel more like UPS delivery equipment. We've often remarked that a tablet plus a keyboard could be a killer combination, but we still wonder whether a tablet that has its own fold-away keyboard is really the answer.

Devices like the still-unseen Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid explored a docking system of a removable tablet/screen. The Duo is really a reinvention of the hinged lid on tablets. Dell has reportedly confirmed that the Duo is coming later this year. We'd love to see one, but we're still not sure if that admittedly eye-catching swivel-tilt screen is the answer, nor is using Windows 7 touch. In fact, we have a hard time imagining how it will top the iPad.