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Update: Dell 'Duo' hybrid tablet imminent

Dell is expected to roll out its "Duo" hybrid tablet-Netbook, taking careful aim at the Apple iPad. Dell's tablet converts to a Netbook--keyboard and all.

Dell is expected to roll out its hybrid tablet-laptop in two phases, with the first phase coming Thursday, as the PC maker takes aim at Apple's iPad with a novel twist on the tablet concept.

Pre-sale order information for the 10-inch Inspiron Duo is expected to be disclosed this week in conjunction with a Microsoft store opening in Bellevue, Wash, said industry sources familiar with the launch plans.

Dell Inspiron Duo converts from a Windows 7 tablet to a Netbook.
Dell Inspiron Duo converts from a Windows 7 tablet to a Netbook. Dell

Dell is also expected to make an announcement regarding the Duo early next week, possibly on November 23. At that time, it will be available for order on Dell's Web site.

The tablet's most unique feature is the ability to open up the case, flip the screen, and convert it into a clamshell Netbook. And a high-end Netbook, at that. The Windows 7-based Duo packs a dual-core Atom processor. Hybrid designs such as Hewlett-Packard's EliteBook 2740p have been available for years but are typically pricey, heavier stylus-based products, designed first and foremost as a laptop.

Dell has already staked out turf to compete with the iPad. A Dell executive couldn't resist making a wry, elliptical comment about the Apple iPad when the Duo was introduced at an Intel developer conference in September. "There are times that you have to do work. Tablets are great for entertainment, but they aren't exactly conducive to productivity," said Dave Zavelson, a marketing executive at Dell at that time. That's when he revealed the hidden keyboard.

Dell declined to comment.

Updated on November 16 at 11:45 a.m. PST: The top of this story was reworked to clarify the details of the Duo's launch.