CNET First Look
Dell Inspiron DuoDell has captured the imagination of a tablet-crazed public with a a new convertible tablet called the Inspiron Duo. We're generally impressed with the design and concept, if less so with the performance.
I'm Dan Ackerman. Are you one of those people who says, "I like laptops but I wish they were a little more flippy." Well, then, you might want to check out the new Dell Inspiron Duo which has a screen that literally flips around like this so you can fold it down and it becomes a touchscreen tablet. We've seen convertible tablets before. Those are usually systems where the screen rotates around. This is the first time we've seen one that literally flips back and forth like this so you can fold it down and carry it around like a touchscreen tablet. Now, of course, under the hood, this is still a basic netbook. It's got an Intel Atom N550 processor, it's got 2 gigs of RAM, so it's really not gonna be a speed demon. In fact, when you add the touch interface on top of it, it tends to feel a little bit sluggish but at least there is a custom touch interface. If I flip the screen back around and fold it down, you'll see that it goes into this touch interface right here which lets you have quick access to music, to photos, to videos, to e-books, even the web browser and a painting program and it has a Broadcom HD chip inside which will accelerate your video playback so even though it is, you know, a basic netbook, you can play back HD video pretty smoothly, so if you like the concept of using something like this as kind of a media hub because it's got all these touch-activated media programs, you can combine with this optional JBL speaker hub that has speakers in it and a docking connection and you just snap it right on then it'll help hold your tablet up and, of course, help with setting it up as like the screen for video playback or making it a little kind of portable stereo system for music. This JBL hub runs about $100 extra. The system itself starts at about $550, that's for the Intel Atom, the 2 gigs of RAM and a 250-gig hard drive. If you think about it, it does have a slightly higher definition screen. It's 1366 X 768 while most 10-inch netbooks are 1024 X 600, so if you add those all together, you know, maybe some of the $399 netbooks so basically you're paying $150 premium for the touch interface and for the custom touch software on top of that. In a year that's been filled with copycat laptops and even me-too Android tablets, it's nice to see some original thinking going into a product that's essentially a hybrid of the two concepts, the laptop and the tablet. It's one of the cooler original designs that we've seen this year and while it may not be for everybody, we look forward to definitely checking out where Dell goes with this concept next. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the Dell Inspiron Duo.