Dell Inspiron Duo Forum for discussion on the netbook/tablet hybrid by Dell, the Inspiron Duo.

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jbarr jbarr is offline
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Talking Soon-to-be new user question - 04-04-2011, 06:50 PM

I saw the Duo on sale at Staples for $499, and I think it's time to buy one. I'm going to look at one in the store tonight, and if it looks like what I'm expecting, I'll buy it. I have read countless specs, reviews, and customer comments, so I have a good idea what to expect. I understand that the Duo is not a high-end notebook, so my expectations are properly adjusted.

What draws me to the Duo is that it is both a notebook and a tablet. I've been a long-time "small-tablet" PDA user since way back even before the Palm Pilot 1000 days, and have used iPod Touch's since they came out. I love the pocketability of the iPod Touch, so I'll likely not give it up. I have been eyeing the iPad, and though I think it's an excellent device, to me, it's really just a big iPod Touch. And along with it come some of the shortcomings. For the money, the Duo seems like it would be a much better value.

Also, I have one of those Google CR-48 notebooks that runs their GoogleOS, and I have grown to love the form factor and its capabilities. Interestingly, the Duo is basically the same size, being a bit thicker and slightly lighter weight, so the size looks like it'll be just perfect.

I also like the idea of the Duo primarily for the tablet aspect. I REALLY want a device that I can read PDF files on and do so fullscreen without scrolling. Documentation is meant to be paged through!!! Yes, I could get an eReader, but then, why not leverage the computer underneath? Again, the Duo appears to fill that need.

OK, enough of my babbling. Here's my question: How does the Duo stand up to real-world use? How does it perform? Are there many lags, or is it pretty speedy? I'd like to run apps like MS Office 2010 as well as the Google Chrome browser an FTP client, and several image tools such as PhotoFiltre-Studio and possibly PhotoShop, and of course, my favorite text editor, UltraEdit. They don't all need to be multitasking together--I'll likely have 2-3 windows open at once. How will such requriements hold up?

Thanks in advance!

-Jim Barr
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Sleeping_Panda Sleeping_Panda is offline
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Default "Real World" use ~or~ why I chose the Duo - 04-05-2011, 12:07 AM

Win 7, Office 2010 including Visio and Publisher, Adobe Acrobat Pro X - primarily my real world needs involve development of training materials and manuals for the lab I work at, and so far the Duo is handling them fine.

I turned off the Aero features and file indexing, and when multitasking (Visio and Adobe or Publisher and Adobe, typically), I have a 12$ 4-gig thumb-drive set up as a dedicated ReadyBoost resource - honestly, the only delays I have seen are when trying to render 3d graphics while playing a few games. 2d all works fine.

I chose the Duo precisely because I wanted the tablet for eBooks, web browsing and browser-based gaming, but I needed more than just the stripped down App-versions of my work programs, which, right now, is all the non-Windows tablets can offer. Acer's Win7 tab with 4-gig RAM and a (slightly) better video chip runs 1100$, which seems silly to me.

I'm able to get a 2.9 Windows Experience index (owing to the weak graphics), which is actually better than one of my work laptops. It IS a Netbook - same as all the other tablets - but it beats out 90%+ of all the others in its class with the added tablet aspect - so at 500$, it's a good deal in my opinion.

I have zero complaints and have done very little tweaking. I suspect you'll find it about the same.

PS: I have 2 friends with Xoom's and 1 with an iPad2 - using Firefox 4 I can match their browsing speeds, video playback (and I have Flash), almost all their apps (thanks to AppUpp at Intel and a few others, including Chrome and Firefox add-ons and Apps) - they win in battery life and 3G connectivity, but I live in Eastern Washington and still find WiFi everywhere, so I don't miss the 2-year 3G contracts


Inspiron 1090 (Duo) since 2/23/11
Optiplex 760; Latitude D630; Latitude D830; Latitude E6410 (and this is just at work)
Technical Support & Training Technician
@ a DOE National Laboratory
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strider_mt2k strider_mt2k is offline
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Default 04-05-2011, 09:07 AM

I use mine daily and it's even better than my Mini 9 was. (And I really liked my Mini 9)

I don't see lag or slowness at all in mine when surfing or doing...anything really.
At home I routinely watch DVDs from the .ISO files on my home server and have zero difficulties.

There was a short time when I had some stuttering when docked to the Audio Station, but driver updates for the onboard and Audio Dock Ethernet have eliminated all that.

My only real complaint is that I've finished Angry Birds and I can't get the new Angry Birds Rio on a Windows platform yet. (It's a stuttery mess on my cheapie Android tablet)

I'm more worried about THAT than any concerns over hardware or capabilities!

That being said i have modified mine with a different wireless card, but that's part of the reason i bought mine too. I like to tinker.

Inspiron Duo: Win7 Pro 32-Bit, Intel 6200 Wifi Upgrade
Former Inspiron Mini 9 Owner, Modder, Enthusiast

Last edited by strider_mt2k; 04-05-2011 at 09:14 AM. Reason: mo stuff mo stuff mo stuff
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jbarr jbarr is offline
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Default 04-05-2011, 03:31 PM

So I took the plunge and bought the Duo last night. Out of the box, it is pretty cool. It is definitely slower than my HP DV4 notebook, but then the DV4 has double the RAM and an SSD installed, so the comparison really isn't a fair one. Overall, I am impressed. I do see the shortcomings that most have mentioned, but I think it's a decent device. I have 15 days to return it, but I honestly doubt I will.

Performance overall is actually quite good. I'm tweaking the stock configuration to try to streamline things and improve the speed, and so far, it's performing well. I have many tweaks to go, so things should only get better. I may eventually do a clean install of Windows 7, but until then, I'm going to just try to pare things back to make it more lean.

To test real-world performance, I gave Microsoft Office a go, so I tried using one of my TechNet keys to activate Office 2010, but it wouldn't work. So I simply uninstalled Office 2010 and reinstalled it from an ISO on a USB drive. Office 2010 activated without a hitch, and now it works very well. All the usual apps open quickly and are as responsive as on pretty much any Windows 7 box I've used. I haven't done any heavy use, but I doubt there will be any issue. I'm going to give OneNote a try in Tablet mode. I've been wanting to use OneNote, but never did on a PC because to me, it seems to really be suited to a tablet. I also installed some other apps I regularly use, and they all perform very well.

The tablet/touchscreen side is taking a bit to get used to, but it is working quite well. I didn't care for the stock "Stage" app, so I disabled it and installed Thinix. Thinix is definitely an add-on that is worth considering. But in the end--and I'm not trying to diminish its usefulness in any way--Thinix really is just a very well-designed touchscreen-focused app launcher. As I see it, the key is to get the underlying OS to present apps in a way that makes touchscreen use more practical. For example the Vista Origami Experience's "Touch Settings" module really makes apps like Office 2010 much more usable in tablet mode.

The Duo is definitely not an iPad. The touchscreen, combined with the UI, is not as tuned and as smooth as an iPad. Let's face it, the iPad is a work of art in its presentation and its design--the Duo is not. The Duo is thicker, weightier, and is definitely not as slick to use. BUT, I don't see that as a disappointment at all. Why? Because it is all offset by the simple fact that the Duo is a full-blown Windows 7 notebook that is very capable. To me, that alone is HUGE, and makes up for most of the complaints I may have.

Overall, the Duo looks very promising. I'll post updates.
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gorrila gorrila is offline
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Default 04-06-2011, 03:46 PM

Can you get the origami experience on windows 7? If so how?
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jbarr jbarr is offline
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Default 04-06-2011, 05:22 PM

I installed only the "Touch Settings" portion, and I did get it to work, but the settings wouldn't stay set for me. I don't know if it's something in Windows 7, Thinix, or a reboot.

An alternative is to right-click on the desktop and select "Personalize". Click "Window color" near the bottom. Click the "Advanced appearance settings" link. Tailor to your heart's content. You'd likely want to tweak Scrollbar, Active Title Bar, and Inactive Title Bar. Don't forget that there are Font settings as well to adjust the font sizes. I missed those at first.
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Default 04-07-2011, 01:27 PM

Quick followup. I've been using my Duo quite a lot now, and I'm extremely impressed by its performance as a notebook. So far, it's running every application I need it to run, as well as some other "play around" applications. And in all cases, the programs perform well--in fact, they are performing better than expected. And to clarify, by perform, I'm referring to the time t launch the application, and the overall feel of the app while using it for real-world tasks. So far, so good...better than good, in fact.

As for the Tablet mode, I have gotten used to how the tablet mode operates, and I am becoming very proficient and accurate with the touchscreen in both portrait and landscape orientation. Tweaking a few Desktop settings significantly improved tablet use for non-touchscreen-aware programs.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the Duo. It has exceeded my expectations within regards to capabilities, ease of use, and performance.
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