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Review of Dell Inspiron Tablet/Laptop Hybrid 156

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the oh-yeah-that'll-never-break dept.
Barence writes "It's rare that Dell breaks new ground in terms of design, but the new Dell Inspiron Duo changes all that, according to PC Pro. First revealed at IDF earlier this year, the Dell netbook has a screen that swivels in its own lid, turning the Windows 7 device into a tablet. 'The Duo's relatively modest premium over a high-end netbook buys you the touchscreen and slick conversion to the tablet format, as well as full Windows 7 and a decent hard drive. If you were thinking about buying either a netbook or a tablet, the Duo does both, though it doesn't do the tablet bit as well as an iPad,' PC Pro's reviewer, Jack Schofield, concludes."
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Review of Dell Inspiron Tablet/Laptop Hybrid

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  • by nyctopterus (717502) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @01:56PM (#34270778) Homepage

    To all those thinking this doesn't sound new, and that we've had swivel laptop/tablets for a decade or more, you have to realise, this swivels on a different plane. A DIFFERENT PLANE.

    • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @01:58PM (#34270810) Journal

      Don't tell the TSA!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gholder (1943232)
        You can just use the laptop to hide your junk while going through the new scanners. Let be real, that's all that anything Dell produces is good for.
        • Actually, Dell also has a division for real products... I haven't yet used a Dell Precision series device I didn't like. Hell, objectively they're nearly on par with Thinkpads, and all that keeps me from buying one is personal preference...

    • by jittles (1613415)
      About damn time, too! I'm sick and tired of having to make sure I book all my travel on Airbus damn it! I want Boeing support!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vjg (1393311)
      De Plane! De Plane! I have seen ads for this before and have yet to figure out how it's significantly different from my 4 year-old Fujitsu LifeBook. Oh, wait, it's not as expandable or capable as my LifeBook.
    • Actually there was a convertible from the 90's that used essentially the same mechanism although it didn't carry the outer frame around to the front/top of the screen. I can't remember who made it though.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @01:59PM (#34270834)

    Really, they lost me at "full Windows 7". As an OS, the interface is complete crap for use on a tablet. So this is a small netbook that converts into a barely usable tablet. No thanks.

    • I wonder... could you run Android in a virtual machine for use as a tablet and Windows 7 or Ubuntu for when you're using it as a laptop? Trying to combine the two form factors is always going to be tricky, given how unwieldy either UI is going to be when using it in the opposite mode. Unless someone comes out with a way to easily switch between the different UI styles as well as the hardware styles I think this is a non-starter.

      • There are already touchscreen netbooks, so some people have already been working to get Ubuntu working on them [ubuntuforums.org]. I think they've tackled a lot of the driver problems, but I imagine that any new hardware like this is going to have its own set of driver issues to tackle (and no manufacturer support). As for Android in a virtual machine, I think you'd just have to run the Android emulator in Eclipse?
      • by lennier1 (264730)

        I wonder... could you run Android in a virtual machine for use as a tablet ...

        Technically it's just a weird Linux distro. A proper VM would certainly be a step up from what's included in the Android SDK.

      • something like Win7 on Xen?
        As for Android, it's just Google's private branch of the Linux kernel. If they upstreamed more of that into the standard tree switching between android and your favourite desktop distro would be trivial. Hardware sensors detect a 'swivel' and hey presto the UI switches to X11.
        Google's app store might only currently cater to ARM based phones but as Apple have done with an osx store, there'd be a market for x86 tablet apps too.

    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      This is exactly what I want in a tablet. This is the biggest turnoff for me with the iPad, being chained to iOS.

      What's important is that a proper interface is running on the device. That was the biggest problem with tablets from 5-8 years ago. They were running straight Windows XP which made for a clumsy experience. But on the other hand, the OS made those tablets quite useful and a viable alternative to a laptop.

      What's important is that a fluid experience is offered when you're using the device as a tablet

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      What's so crappy about it as a mobile OS?

      Sure, out of the box it's not perfect. But it's easily customizable (as in, built-in settings) to make it better: larger icons, fonts, etc. (as a proportion of the screen) and the like. At the resolution this netbook runs, it should be quite usable.

      In all actuality, Win7 can be customized to work almost identically to how the Maemo 4 UI works. That's a win for me, personally - the Maemo 4 UI is (IMO) one of the quickest usable UIs I've used for a mobile.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        What's so crappy about it as a mobile OS?

        Sure, out of the box it's not perfect. But it's easily customizable (as in, built-in settings) to make it better: larger icons, fonts, etc. (as a proportion of the screen) and the like. At the resolution this netbook runs, it should be quite usable.

        Think single-mouse-button, and the mocking we all of Macs because of it.

        That's what we have on a touchscreen - a single mouse button design, and wierd hacks to make it actually support middle and right-clicks. Or just righ

    • by bazorg (911295)

      I had some reservations about that but then saw in the video demo that there is a change in the UI once you flip from laptop to tablet mode. Instead of Windows Explorer, it changes into a simpler screen with half a dozen large buttons to start a different set of applications. Makes sense. Your word processor is best used with the keyboard and mouse, your photo album can be used comfortably with the touchscreen.
      I like this Dell a lot. I hope it is successful and they start making them with normal laptop comp

    • guess what.. you could install Linux on it too ! Maybe there'll even be all the drivers !

      sorry to get in the way of a (good) bad whine.

  • by BC_R3 (1942996) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:00PM (#34270852)
    This release will probably hurt both iPad and MacBook sales drastically. Better operating system and the ability to function as both a laptop and a tablet will appeal to a large group people.
    • Want to place a wager on that? I bet this is the last we ever hear about this (not so new) laptablet. Android and the iPad will eat this shit alive.

    • Only a computer geek who has no grasp of what the larger demographic wants would think this. The fact is that the iPad is selling well (4th quarter projections of 15-20 million) because a huge amount of people, who obviously aren't you, really like to use it.

      • I've been thinking about this and came to a conclusion: it has less buttons. Normal people don't like buttons. An Ipad has 105 less buttons than a computer, so it should sell like icecream on a summer day
    • No. What will hurt the iPad is tablets with equivalent hardware specs, a good OS+basic apps, and none of the closedness of the Apple Harem.

      I'd rather have tablet with an optional keyboard dock, than be forced to carry the keyboard even the 90% of times I have no use for it

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:03PM (#34270878) Journal

    The tablet fad will end with small convertible laptops (or "netvertibles" as they're called now).

    • by nyctopterus (717502) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:07PM (#34270974) Homepage

      You're wrong. Tablets will get thinner and lighter, and you'll dock them with keyboards (wirelessly) and larger monitors when you need to. Fewer and fewer people will see the need to buy a desktop or laptop computer.

      • by H0p313ss (811249) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:18PM (#34271130)

        You're wrong. Tablets will get thinner and lighter, and you'll dock them with keyboards (wirelessly) and larger monitors when you need to. Fewer and fewer people will see the need to buy a desktop or laptop computer.

        That's my prediction too... the laptop is dead, long live the laptop.

      • by Graff (532189) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:26PM (#34271294)

        Tablets will get thinner and lighter, and you'll dock them with keyboards (wirelessly) and larger monitors when you need to.

        Basically how people are using the iPad right now. The combination of the iPad + bluetooth keyboards and dock connectors makes it a close replacement for a desktop system for most people.

        • Yep. It's the beginning, although I think it will take a few cheaper android tablets to really get this started -- tablets need to cost less than netbooks to replace them, and they will, in time.

      • by Microlith (54737)

        And they'll all be locked down.

        Welcome to the world of Trusted Computing!

        • Yep, because the people that make free open software have their heads up their arses over what most people want from their computing devices. And they certainly seem to lack broad vision about where this is all going in terms of user interaction.

          • It's irrelevant, since the device makers will be the ones to close it. Android is OSS, but that doesn't mean it's open on the devices themselves.

        • Arg, I really should have qualified that, there is some great open source software of course.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Bingo. If I look at my home computing needs, my iPad basically does everything I need with a dock for a full keyboard. If I didn't need to fire up Netbeans every once in a while and dive into code, it would a replacement for my work computer as well. I have a Mac Mini hooked up to the TV mainly as a media center to watch iTunes movies and shows.

      • Wrong. Cellphone will get larger and thiker and you will dock them on your tablet, wich will get thinner and lighter, wich you will dock on your netbook, wich will get thicker and heavier and you will ... oh crap. I lost myself
  • though it doesn't do the tablet bit as well as an iPad

    Worse than the iPad? So we can expect a terrible keyboard, terrible text selection, rotation issues, and buggy input controls? Where do I sign up?

  • Can it run Linux? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by russlar (1122455) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:21PM (#34271180)
    I'm dead serious about that. If it will run something I can install KDE onto, I'm sold.
  • I know that all the "people in the know" say we all only want a 10inch and bigger tablet, but not me. Part of my daily work has me dealing with the iPad and other tablets. I can say that i just dont enjoy the larger formfactor of the iPad. Sure, it is better for web browsing, I will certainly admit that, but I just hate to carry it around.
    For me, I want something about the size of the playbook from RIM. It will still fit in my suit coat pocket or nicely in a hand bag if you are a lady. It's perfect size for

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MetalliQaZ (539913)

      Galaxy Tab? Comes pretty close

    • I agree with a lot of that, except the stylus for writing. I can write faster on an iPad than I can with a stylus on glass (or even on paper, if I'm honest). I was hoping the iPad would come in a 7" model.

      Totally agree about the sharing. Physical location is something developers have been ignoring for far too long. I frequently email people documents, even though they're in the same damn room! It's ridiculous.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BobSutan (467781)
      "I'll wait for a 7 inch." That's what she said!
  • Is there a distro of Linux that is designed specifically for multi-touch tablet interfacing?

    One of the greatest points of the iOS devices is that their apps are designed for multi-touch input from the ground up. It would be great to see this idea put onto Linux... multi-touch interfaces built on the same libraries as the keyboard/mouse interfacing apps.

    I guess the underlying questions are are there any GUIs that are being developed for linux with multi-touch for the primary input? And are there any librar

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Without something like that I fear that the open alternatives to iOS will drag on and on in half-baked form, never successfully challenging the consistent experience you get on iOS.

      Well, there's MeeGo. The biggest thing is making sure that X11 can register and report multitouch events to applications, support for which is coming up rapidly. Of course, multitouch is a patent minefield with Apple patenting certain gestures (!).

      Nothing in Android will be of value since it's all Android-specific interfaces.

    • Not yet, but rummors say that Ubuntu is triyng to get there. If gnome helps, maybe someday
    • by ianare (1132971)

      Yes, Meego [meego.com] is specifically designed for smaller screens and has a touch based interface design from the start. It works with current Dell netbooks [meego.com] which probably share a lot with the Duo.

  • It's like someone decided to knock off the convertible tablets which have been around for ages now, but had Bloody Stupid Johnson do the hinge design!

    History, know it. Other than another data point on the size-weight-features continuum, this device brings nothing new to the table.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablet_personal_computer#Timeline_of_tablet_PC_history

    • Of course, I don't disagree with you about this not being innovative, but still is important

      Sometimes good ideas came on bad moments. Apple proved that the tablet concept was workable. It made people (not geeks) look for this kind of hardware, put it on the map.

      Some of the old ideas should be tried again, because they really got a second chance

  • Still, sometimes when we try and straddle a fence, we end up falling and hopefully not crushing our genitals against the fence...

    Trying to be two less than stellar devices might make one really shitty one. It's Windows; fail.

  • Hybrid (Score:3, Informative)

    by highspl (523486) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:39PM (#34271498)
    It's a hybrid. When the battery runs down, its gas engine kicks in.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday November 18, 2010 @02:47PM (#34271640) Journal

    I can see this as a potential win if you really need a keyboard for some things, but would want the tablet factor for others. This might have been on my wish list last year before I purchased an acer mini-laptop (11.6" Timeline), save for the weak processor.

    I'm torn, as the specks make it look pretty weak for running full Win7, and experience tells me that the touch interface with Windows is going to be a real bear. Still, the dock and ease of having a keyboard for "work" or slate for couch surfing might be nice.

    I guess it will come down to the software, which is where it will ultimately fail. What makes the iPad/Android Tablets so useful is the finger-centric UI. It's what I hated about the older windows phones (which were built for a stylus and very difficult to manipulate with a fat finger).

  • Okay, different type of screen swivel but Fujitsu Siemens have had one for ages:

    http://gizmodo.com/150000/fujitsu-siemens-lifebook-tablet [gizmodo.com]

  • But that thing looks sexier than the iPad. First company to make a full sized laptop version has me sold. Bonus points if the hardware is Linux friendly.

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