Engadget: Review: Dell Inspiron Duo Convertible Netbook
Engadget says the $550 Duo is too heavy, has poor battery life, lacks a decent LCD for use as a tablet, and the software is sluggish – but the form factor, with its vertically swiveling LCD, has possibilities.
“When Dell first demoed the Inspiron Duo and its vertically rotating screen on stage at IDF in September, our mouths nearly hit the floor. It looked like a plain old netbook until its 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen did a magical backflip and folded down over its keyboard to morph into a tablet. It was like nothing we’d ever seen before. And we actually figured it would be the sort of system that would stay locked up in Dell’s labs, but when its specs were revealed — a dual-core Atom N550 processor, 2GB of RAM, and Broadcom Crystal HD accelerator — it became evident that the netbook / tablet hybrid was the real deal. Running Windows 7 Home Premium and Dell’s new Stage interface, the $550 netvertible has the potential to successfully straddle both the netbook and tablet world. It also has a real shot at being the perfect device for those wavering between buying a netbook and a tablet. Indeed, the Duo is filled to the brim with potential, but what’s the thing really like to use? We’ve spent the last few days with the Duo (and its Duo Audio Station) to find out, so hit the break for the official Engadget review!
Look and feel
The Inspiron Duo hides its secret power extremely well, which means that when you glance at it from afar you’re likely to mistake it for an average clamshell netbook. But, of course, it’s much more than that, and a closer look at its lid starts to reveal its hidden talent. The cover is made of two materials: the border is adorned in a soft rubberized plastic, while the back of that rotating display is covered in a glossy coating with a subtle pattern. As the pictures reveal, we were sent the ruby red version, but it will actually only be available in a grayish black at first — the red and blue colors will follow some time in January. The whole rotating process is better seen in the video above, but when you open the lid and push the top of its glossy display, it vertically rotates within that aforementioned rubberized bezel. Oddly, it’s not a bi-directional hinge, so it will only rotate backwards. When the glossy red part of the lid is facing you, you can ‘close’ the netbook, and well, then you’ve got a tablet!”