Just before the holidays, I had spoken with a neighbor who was looking to buy a new computer. He mentioned his looking at both notebook and tablet computers, but was having trouble making up his mind. I briefly mentioned the Dell Inspiron Duo, and its part notebook part tablet design; I basically didn’t give it further thought about what he bought — until on Monday night when he called. Sure enough he had ordered a Dell Inspiron Duo several weeks ago and he knew I had a Cr-48. So we decided to swap computers for a day, which gave me the opportunity to review the Duo.
The first thing I had to do was put my prejudice aside regarding Dell computers. A decade ago I recommended Dell computers to all of my clients. But when Dell farmed out its technical support overseas, like others did, Dell lost its credibility. It became just ‘another PC maker’ and it was not offering anything new nor innovative. It also seemed to me that the quality of its hardware suffered. Again, Dell was no worse nor better than the others like HP, Compaq, and Acer to name a few.
Here is the first thing you must accept. Repeat after me: This is not an Apple iPad, this is not an Apple iPad. The Duo touch screen works fairly well. The only issue I noticed was that it appeared to me to be sluggish in performance. This could be a hardware issue since the little Duo comes with the Intel 1.5Ghz Dual-Core Atom processor. Windows 7 needs some extra horses, in my opinion. Also, I would prefer 3 GB of RAM instead of 2 GB, but that is just me.
Flipping from tablet mode to notebook mode is fairly simple. You just flip the screen and you are ready to go. But like with all touchscreen devices, this one is also a fingerprint magnet. For some of us, fingerprints aren’t a bother. But for me, I hate greasy fingerprints. I even keep my cell phone case and screen clean and free of fingerprints.
The Duo is also thick and heavy. Trying to hold the unit in one hand and use the touch screen with the other requires a good deal of strength. I had my wife try it and she thought it was heavy for holding in one hand, but worked just fine when placed on her lap or table.
I have another concern about the Duo. Since this is a brand new product and a brand new design, I wonder how long one could continue to flip the screen before developing problems? I think that waiting for the second generation of the Duo is advisable, unless you need the latest and greatest right now.
I think that Dell has a great idea and the Duo at $549 is reasonably priced for what you get. Yes, the notebook/touchscreen Duo could use a few additional hardware features, like more RAM, faster processor, better Web cam, and a media card reader. A future version of the Duo that addresses these concerns could be a winner, IMO.
If you own a Duo, please share your experience with us.