Home Your Tech Mobility Woah: Dell Duo does dual delightfully!

Woah: Dell Duo does dual delightfully!

Dell's upcoming Duo blends the tablet and notebook computing experience in a unique way - with an internal, vertically capacitive swivelling screen that offers a delightful new take on delivering a tablet and keyboard in one!

I've had to chance to have a play with an engineering sample Dell Duo for several minutes at the launch of Dell's Swarm group buying service in Australia, and while it was only relatively brief first look, you can definitely colour me impressed!

Overseas reports say the Duo has a dual-core Atom processor and discrete HD capable graphics, and while specs were not revealed to me and I'd want to try it for a much longer period of time running the apps and browsers I use to make a more definitive assessment, using it and navigating around the UI and some programs certainly did feel smooth and fast.

The swivelling action of the screen is where the excitement and magic is at, with a magnetic action snapping the screen into place whichever way it is oriented.

Although overseas reports say it is twice as heavy as an iPad, it felt remarkably light in tablet mode compared to traditional tablet PCs, and even though naturally a lot thicker than an iPad, the transition between tablet mode and notebook mode was magical and revolutionary all its own.

The keys are MacBook-esque, floating as little squares, with a nice big keypad and two buttons underneath.

The capacitive screen was very accurate, with only the size of Windows elements and links a potential issue, but Windows 7 certainly is the most touch friendly version of Windows, some buttons can be easily increased in size and fonts can too.

Naturally, Microsoft is promising (if you read between the lines) so much more for its future Windows 8, but Windows 7 does work with touch, and because you can so easily flip between tablet and notebook configuration, you can use whichever way suits you best at the time.

The screen resolution is higher than your traditional 1024x600 netbook experience too, thus giving you much more desktop real estate to play with in dimensions you expect. 

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There's no word yet on when the Dell Duo will come to Australia, whether this year or the rapidly approach 2011, but in the US, pre-orders are already being taken, and delivery appears to be expected in the US within two weeks.

So, if you really want one, you could always get one from the US, but if you want to get one locally, we'll just have to wait until Dell Australia makes an announcement.

US pricing seems to suggest the Dell Duo will cost US $549, with an apparent US $100 or so extra cost if you want the JBL Speaker Dock, something that makes the tablet a great device to use in the kitchen, study, bedroom - anywhere you want where you want a display that can play video files, music, photos, YouTube, websites, a live Skype chat with someone - whatever you want. 

The whole delivery of the experience is remarkable for its difference to the norm, and thus far, on first look, it's really impressive.

There's no particular reason why this technology couldn't be integrated into more of Dell's notebooks - both the screen and the dock - so hopefully this is the start of some real tablet action of the Windows side of the tablet business!

Tom's Hardware also had the chance for some hands on time, but a lot more than me, and they have some interesting observations of their own which are definitely worth reading if you want to know more!

There are still questions over battery life, local pricing, local availability and more, but we were told the Duo was designed with ruggedness in mind and it was obvious the Dell people were really proud of it.

Again, based on a first look, it's not hard to see why. I wish this was the type of Tablet PC that Bill Gates had unveiled all those years ago - they'd have been instantly far more successful, although they wouldn't have been able to sell for the US $549 they're supposed to be selling for in America.

So'¦ the Dell Duo is a very exciting new development in the world of Windows tablets and a stepping stone to a future tablet optimised Windows 8 world all at the same time.

Definitely looking forward to some real hands-on time with the Dell Duo to see how it handles up to real world use - and who knows, could Apple be inspired by Dell's heavily patented design to create a true future MacPad hybrid?



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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.