Dell Inspiron Duo, a first-of-its-kind netbook/tablet goes up for pre-order

Dell Inspiron Duo

At the grand opening of the Microsoft Store in Bellvue Square Thursday, Dell began accepting pre-orders for the Inspiron Duo, a convertible Windows tablet PC that takes a completely new approach to the form factor.

Though there have been a handful of different designs for convertible tablet PCs over the last decade, the design most manufacturers have settled upon involves a rotating joint where the screen meets the chassis. Dell's Inspiron Duo, first debuted at IDF earlier this year, mounts the touchscreen on a bezel so that it can be flipped on its horizontal axis like a spinning target in pinball. When facing one direction, the Duo is a touchable netbook, when facing the other, it's a multi-touch tablet.

The stock model Inspiron Duo is equipped with a 10" capacitive touchscreen, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, 250 GB of storage, and a Broadcom Crystal HD graphics accelerator for a reported $549 with upgrade options available. In the Windows Team blog today, Ben Rudolph said the cold boot startup time for the Inspiron Duo is 36.5 seconds, and shutdown with no apps open takes 17.5 seconds.

Unlike HP's Slate 500 which has already proven to be a surprise hit, the Inspiron Duo uses Dell's Stage user interface when in tablet mode. Dell debuted Stage earlier this year on the One 23 all-in-one PC.

In addition to having hands-on access to the Inspiron Duo today, customers of the Microsoft Store also have advance access to pre-ordering. Dell has not yet listed the tablet on its site, but is expected to do so in the near future, with units shipping in December.

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