Skip to main content

Dell Inspiron Duo Is Indifference Times Two

You can’t deny Dell some hard-fought gee-whiz cred with the new Inspiron Duo.
In a world of commoditized portables, it is nothing if not a unique product. Show it off to your friends; it looks like a netbook, and you pop open the laptop-like clamshell and wait for the bored expression to appear. Then comes the sucker punch: you rotate the screen horizontally within its frame and snap the laptop back shut. Ta-da, it’s a freakin’ tablet, bro! People are duly impressed. It’s a neat trick and, at the very least, a clever feat of engineering.
But what is the Dell Inspiron Duo? Cut through the mystery and you will find — sorry to burst your bubble — a Windows netbook with a rotating touchscreen.
And that begs the question, what is it good for?
Well, we’re still working on that one.
This is the problem with dual-function gadgets in general: They rarely do either of the things they’re designed for very well. As a netbook, the Duo is at least passable. While it’s heavier than other 10-inch netbooks by up to half a pound, it’s well designed and looks good, and the 1366 x 768 screen’s brightness is about average for the category. But performance is unfortunately poor all around (a 1.5-GHz Atom doesn’t get you very far), and the two measly USB ports could stand an upgrade.
As a tablet, the Duo fares considerably worse. Here, its three pounds of heft are way too much for extended use, and the clamshell design adds an uncomfortable thickness to the device that makes it hard to hold. The screen also suffers from the same poor viewing-angle problems that sunk the Streak 7. If you’re not holding it dead on, the screen is virtually illegible.
Of course, the biggest problem here really isn’t Dell’s fault, it’s that Windows just doesn’t work very well for touchscreen devices, especially not on a small scale like this. Use the Duo in tablet mode for more than three minutes and your skin starts to crawl. You want to get something done quickly. You try to hit Control-C. Soon you find you’re reaching over and over for a keyboard that isn’t there. Except, of course, it is. Thank God for that.
WIRED 320GB hard drive is bigger than my laptop’s. Flipping system works well, feels sturdy. Dell Stage custom launcher app loads automatically in tablet mode, makes Windows a bit more useful as a slate. Duo Audio Station ($100 more) adds much-improved audio and a vertical docking system.
TIRED Tediously slow all around; get used to a lot of waiting. Screen is hideous. Too heavy for regular, table-free use.
Photos courtesy of Dell

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top 5 Women Who Impacted Technology in 2010

Katie Stanton, International Strategist for Twitter Katie Stanton has impressively long names of companies in her resume. They include the White House, Google Inc, and her latest addition is Twitter. Her remit is working on Twitter’s international strategy and her experience in social media will be a key asset to the company. Katie has a history of working in technology, and her knowledge of departmental laws will help Twitter work alongside government agencies, as she’ll be spearheading the free information approach, especially after the Wikileaks incident. Stanton has been a key player in the techsphere for some time, and this extends to her private life. Following the Haiti disaster she worked with a group of engineers to create a free texting service to help those in need and she is constantly in demand as an expert in both social media and government policy.
Caterina Fake, Co-Founder of Flickr and Hunch Despite having a surname which sounds like a pseudonym for a spy (it’…

Evolution Of Computer Virus [infographic]

AT&T MiFi 2372 review

In the week or so that I have been testing the AT&T MiFi 2372 by Novatel Wireless, it has already saved no less than three lives. First, it saved my cable guy’s life. You see, Time Warner Cable provides the worst home Internet service I have ever experienced. I can’t even think of a close second. If providing terrible home Internet service was a sport, Time Warner Cable would be on its tenth consecutive undefeated season. Forget the fact that my upload speed is capped at 60Kbps and I’m lucky if I can get half that — it has been months since I’ve gone through a full day without at least one service interruption. Months. Unfortunately, Time Warner Cable has an exclusive contract with my building so I have no choice but to endure its abysmal service. Last week, as a Time Warner Cable technician entered my home for the sixth time in two months, I realized that this certainly would have spelled serious trouble had it not been for my trusty new back up device. Before the Mi…