10-inch slate tablet seemed imminent when news broke that Dell had an iPad rival on the way, but that turned out not to be the case. The 5-inch Streak was Dell’s first attempt, but ended up being more smartphone than tablet. Its second attempt—the Dell Inspiron Duo ($549.99 direct)—isn’t even close. Although it is a novel take on a netbook convertible tablet, it’s anything but an iPad rival. It features a cleverly designed flip hinge that exposes (and conceals) a physical keyboard, and is one of the few netbook tablets that run on an Intel Atom processor and a full blown Windows 7 operating system. Although it sports one of the most innovative designs we’ve seen in a while, the Inspiron Duo is no threat as a touch device to any tablet and completely misses as a netbook.
Dell Inspiron Duo
Dell’s approach to tablet design should be applauded because it’s simple, yet clever. Instead of a single hinge connecting the two halves, there are four hinges: Two side-mounted to the screen and two below the screen that open and close the lid. The side-mounted hinges allow the screen to flip vertically, which can’t be appreciated until you try it out in person. The 10-inch screen snaps securely into place with each flip—clockwise (or toward you) to tablet mode and counter-clockwise (or away from you) to use as a netbook. And by securely, I mean you don’t have to worry about a child spinning the screen like a rolodex.
The lid closes flush with the bottom half, which is a lot cleaner-looking than how the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t ($650 direct, 3.5 stars) does it. Aesthetically, the Duo is more attractive than many of its netbook counterparts. The lid is akin to a picture frame: The borders are made of a rubbery-looking plastic, which is colored in “FastBack Red” (there are two other color options: blue and black); the picture, in this case, is the flipping screen itself, which is backed by a glossier shade of the same color. Gun-metal gray aluminum HP Mini 5103 ($650 street, 4 stars) blankets the interior.
At 3 pounds, the Inspiron Duo is slightly heavier than the Lenovo S10-3t (2.8 lbs)—though both come with a small battery (4-cell). By contrast, the HP 5103 (2.9 lbs) and Asus EeePC 1015PEM ($370 street, 4 stars) (2.9 lbs) bundle 6-cell batteries and weigh about the same. Because the Duo is a netbook first and married to a physical keyboard, it’s twice as heavy as the Apple iPad (1.5 lbs)—a slate tablet.
Toshiba Libretto W100
True to their Toshiba heritage, these ultra-mobile concept PCs edge out the market when it comes to cutting-edge design. Their light clamshell casing lets you tuck them away neatly—no matter where you’re going. Dual multi-touch screens offer virtual keyboards and a “soft” track pad that let you navigate, type, click and browse any way you like. And they turn vertical, making it easy to read ebooks.
Our libretto® ultra-mobile concept PCs do what smartphones dread and go where laptops fear to tread, providing a full PC and rich Internet experience in a super-small handheld design. You’ll have the freedom to savor your media most anywhere, enjoying seamless emailing and the Office apps you can’t live without. You’ll also be able to chat face-to-face with the important people in your life. Quite simply, these trend-setting PCs take you and your mobility one step beyond.
The libretto® family delivers what you’ve been waiting for: the freedom, convenience and richness of Windows® 7 wherever and whenever the moment strikes. Offering power-efficient Intel® processors, they let you easily jump from one thing to the next, or juggle everything at once. As for Internet, you’ll be browsing, shopping, posting and sharing in more places than ever.