Dell's New Dual Core Netbook Tablet Reviewed |

Dell's New Dual Core Netbook Tablet Reviewed

Dennis Faas's picture

Looking for the ultimate netbook / tablet just in time for the Holidays?

One might consider the new Inspiron Duo from Dell -- the Optimus Prime of netbooks. It literally transforms between a standard semi-lightweight word processor / web browser to an even more portable tablet PC, heavily inspired by Apple's iPad.

But is it a real winner deserving of a place on Santa's list? Engadget, which recently reviewed the product, isn't so sure.

The $550 Inspiron Duo at first looks like a slightly more stylish 10.1-inch netbook (using 2GB RAM, dual-core Intel Atom Processor and Windows 7), with its flashy red exterior but nothing-special display.

Despite first impressions, this is a unique product, at least, engineering-wise. The screen pops out of its frame with just a slight but ample enough thrust, and upon flipping the display can be returned to the closed position resulting in a fully-functional touchscreen tablet.

Inspiron Duo: Great Design, but Major Caveats

Engadget's Joanna Stern says that despite the pioneering technology, the Dell build quality is actually quite good. The touch panel works well enough, as does the keyboard and touch mouse pad. (Source:

However, Stern was less than impressed with the camera's placement on the frame around the display, meaning you can't actually use the camera in tablet mode. There's also no option to the link the Duo to a larger monitor, since a VGA port is not included. Also missing from the list of important connections is an SD card reader -- and even more surprising -- an Ethernet jack for a wired network / Internet connection.

The Duo is also fairly hefty, weighing in at 3.2 pounds -- considerably more than most netbooks.

Software Problems Also Cause for Concern

Other problems relate to Dell's choice of software. When a user flips to tablet mode, they enter Dell's DuoStage user interface (UI) system. This presented some considerable issues. Stern found applications for watching videos, listening to music, and browsing photographs rather clumsy, slow, and at times, even unresponsive.

It's possible some of these software issues will be resolved with a downloadable update, but there's not yet been any word on the subject. (Source:

Dual Core Netbook May be a Better Alternative

For now, one might consider a higher-end netbook in place Dell's hybrid. Take the Gateway LT3119u, for example: it offers a dual core Atom processor, 11.6-Inch screen LED screen (ultra-bright), 2GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, and 4 hours battery life. It comes complete with a full version Windows 7 Home Premium (not the starter edition) and is more more reasonable priced at $399 (prices vary depending on stock). Full details, including picture are available here.

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