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Dell Insprion Duo review

It's a tablet! It's a netbook! But is it any good? No, not really. Read on to find out why.

Critical for both netbook and tablet use is battery life. Unfortunately the Duo lasted just four hours when scrolling through a series of simple text web pages this is one of the shortest times we've seen from a netbook in this test for quite some time. Although it's long enough to last most short-haul flights, it's not long enough to last a full working day or a transatlantic flight. Like an increasing number of Dell portable computers, the Duo is sealed so the battery isn't designed to be user replaceable.

Oddly, although the Duo has a SIM-card slot, there's no 3G modem and antenna for connecting to the internet over 3G. It is possible to tether a mobile phone over Bluetooth and use that as a mobile broadband modem without occupying one of the two USB ports. The Duo comes with Bluetooth 3.0 which is supposed to be significantly faster than previous versions of the short-range wireless technology, but with few Bluetooth 3.0 peripherals available this is of little practical consequence for now.

A one year collect and return warranty is included in our quoted price. This can be boosted to two years for an extra 19 or to three years for an extra 30. Sadly but not unexpectedly, there's no option for onsite service.

So what's our verdict?

Verdict

Although we were quite taken with the Inspiron Duo's spinning display, ultimately it's not very good either as a netbook or as a tablet. Although its Windows performance is good for a netbook, its poor battery life, small keyboard and missing ports limits its usefulness compared to competing models. Its touchscreen, Windows 7 and heavy weight make it a poor tablet. Unless you need an affordable touchscreen tablet for using existing Windows apps, we'd rather have any other netbook or an iPad.

Processor: Intel Atom N550, 1.5GHz

Memory: 2GB 667MHz DDR3 RAM

Graphics: Intel GMA 3150

Hard disk: 250GB hard disk

Display: 10.1in 1,366 x 768, LED-backlit screen

Features: 1.3 megapixel camera, microphone, stereo speakers

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0

Ports: 2 x USB2, 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo audio socket

Dimensions: 282x190x25mm (WxDxH)

Weight: 1.36kg

Warranty: 1yr C&R warranty

OS: Windows 7 Home Professional 32-bit

BENCHMARK RESULTS

Image editing 18

Video encoding 24

Multiple apps 26

Overall 24

Light usage battery life – 4h00m

Heavy usage battery life – 2h28m

POWER CONSUMPTION

Sleep 1W

Idle 10W

Active 16W

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