First “Touch and Type” Windows 7 slate device appears from Dell, others to follow

By Tom Warren, on 19th Nov 10 9:09 am with 4 Comments

Dell Inspiron Duo

Dell has introduced a unique tablet-netbook which marks the beginning of a number of new “Touch and Type” Windows 7 powered devices.

Dell unveiled its Inspiron Duo on Thursday, a hybrid device that allows users to switch between netbook and tablet modes. The unique netbook has a spinning screen that allows it to be used as a tablet. The Duo packs a dual-core Intel Atom N550 processor, 2GB of RAM, 250GB of storage and Windows 7 Home Premium. The device also features a 10″ screen with 1366×768 resolution.

Dell also includes its own “Duo Stage UI” layer on top of Windows 7 once it is converted to slate mode. This interesting, although not surprising, addition allows users to control the slate mode easily. The UI features a large finger friendly navigation with access to media, Internet and games. Despite the addition, we’d still like to see Microsoft offer this type of UI straight into Windows 7. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, has previously promised a “major revamp of Windows 7 for slate applications, that will come in the next version (Windows 8).”

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Microsoft’s Slate strategy has yet to fully materialize. Insiders previously tipped Microsoft’s Open House even in NY as a date for when the company would reveal information on their plans for any enhancements in Windows 7. These plans have failed to unfold and Ballmer has only promised that Microsoft will be supporting a range of new form factors. Microsoft’s approach to the iPad is “Windows Touch and Type” instead of “Windows Touch vs Type”. The software giant wants to offer the best of both worlds with great hardware.

Microsoft has been criticized for its slow response to Apple’s iPad device, introduced in April earlier this year. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, previously said Windows 7 based Slates would be available “as soon as they’re ready” when questioned earlier this year. The iPad sold three million units in its first 80 days of release and is currently selling approximately 4.5 million units per quarter, Bernstein Research estimates.

Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates, said earlier this year that the company has a lot of different tablet projects it is pursuing. Microsoft canceled their internal Courier project shortly after the release of the iPad earlier this year. The project was an innovative new tablet concept that had promised to combine a dual screen book design with finger and stylus input. The leaked promotional materials demonstrated various concepts that would have brought an unparalleled productivity tool to the market. Most media outlets and analysts felt the move to cancel the device was a mistake.

Dell’s Inspiron Duo is available for pre-order at the Microsoft Store in the U.S. priced at $549.

  • GP007

    That’s a very cool and I’d say original design when it comes to how they flip the screen like that. I’d have to see it in action but I think this is a nice device,. and if the HP story about their Win7 slate selling good is also true then maybe MS is right about Win7 on the right type of device that is.

  • Bob

    A nice looking device. I wish they’d have used the Metro UI instead of creating their own. It’d have brought consistency to the Windows line and been a great way to bridge type to finger.

  • Guy C M Roberts

    Not that unique, apart from where the placement of the secondary screen hinging is, check out the Lenovo’s on here (they’ve been out for a good few months)

  • Guy C M Roberts

    Mind you it is a bit cheaper :)