Dell Inspiron Duo review

This is a great concept that manages to do its job, despite a few quirks

TODO alt text

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1366 x 768
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Interesting design
  • Good screen
  • Docking system

Against

  • Touchscreen not very sensitive
  • Some software quirks
  • Standard netbook performance

This highly innovative netbook/tablet hybrid is easy to criticise, but the Inspiron Duo offers a glimpse at the future of personal computing.

Those that can look past its undeniable quirks may find a device that changes the way they use a computer.

The idea is that you buy the device with a dock. This acts as a hub for the netbook and converts it into an alarm clock and photo frame, while also charging it.

The dock comes with JBL-branded speakers, which are decent enough, but won't challenge a home hi-fi system.

Dell inspiron duo dock

When you're out and about with the device you have the choice of either netbook or tablet mode.

Switching between them, by flipping the panel horizontally and then closing the lid, is intuitive and the mechanism feels sturdy enough to survive rigorous use.

Firstly, the device impresses in netbook mode. The 1366 x 768-pixel resolution is sharp inside the 10.1-inch screen, while the spacious keyboard provides a great typing experience, despite a bit of flexibility. Those who want to edit and type in word documents will have no problem using the device for hours on end.

Dell inspiron duo keyboard

Performance is standard fare for a netbook and, while office applications run fine, more resource-intensive programs and multi-tasking causes serious lag.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 215 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 60
3DMark 2003: 642

In terms of connectivity, 802.11n Wi-Fi is great for wireless networking to a home router, for example, but the lack of an Ethernet port (even though the dock features one) and video out does seem an omission. It means that those who like to view content on their TV, for example, simply don't have the option.

Dell inspiron duo connectivity

In tablet mode you're introduced to Dell's 'Stage' touch software, which gives you quick access to your music, videos and photos, among other things.

It sits over the Windows 7 interface and, although intuitive, features a few quirks that make it sometimes confusing. You can't travel back through some menus, for example.

Flawed touchscreen

The touchscreen isn't as accurate as we would have liked either, which can be frustrating, but once you get used to it, browsing the web and selecting music is surprisingly quick and easy – and offers a much more intuitive experience than in netbook mode.

The Inspiron Duo is also pretty heavy.

Dell inspiron duo touchscreen

Portability-wise the device is no problem to carry around, but the 215-minute battery life is a little disappointing.

There's no doubt the Inspiron Duo is flawed by a few issues, but we thoroughly bought into Dell's vision of combining the netbook and tablet, and flipping between the two to carry out different tasks is intuitive and fun.

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview

Tech Specs

Product TypeNet-tablet PC
Hard Drive Capacity320 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerBroadcom
Graphics Controller ModelCrystal HD
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Maximum Battery Run Time4 Hour
Product FamilyInspiron duo
Operating System Architecture32-bit
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformWindows
Processor ModelN550
ColourBlack
Operating SystemWindows 7 Home Premium
Brand NameDell
Form FactorHybrid
Processor Speed1.50 GHz
Processor TypeAtom
Screen Size25.7 cm (10.1")
Number of Cells4-cell
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)1.54 kg
Cache1 MB
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Memory Card ReaderYes
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Memory StandardDDR3-800/PC3-6400
Height28.7 mm
Width285 mm
Depth194.5 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
ManufacturerDell, Inc
Product Model1090-1893
Product NameInspiron duo Net-Tablet PC
Product LineInspiron duo
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number1090-1893
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.dell.co.uk
Marketing Information

Sometimes you want to touch. Sometimes you need to type. With the new touch-sensitive, Flash-capable Inspiron duo convertible tablet, you can do both in style. You can tell it's Dell.

Smart Design

Converts to your needs - The unique flip-hinge design enables seamless transition between touch and type modes.

Your life at your fingertips - The intuitive touch screen and duo Stage software provide quick and easy access to your music, movies and photos.

Style to go - The innovative design makes Inspiron duo sleek, easy to hold and small enough to carry anywhere.

Maximum Memory2 GB
Package Contents
  • Inspiron duo Net-Tablet PC
  • Lithium Ion Battery
  • AC Adapter