Techno-lust reached fever-pitch yesterday as I sat down to witness one presentation (about Dell’s ‘Dell Swarm’ online buying service) and ended up falling head over heels in love with something completely different.
Okay, there were no apps like Apple’s brilliant iPad/iTunes combination, but Dell is working with Microsoft to pull some sort of aggregation thing together so that the little bits of software that power the iPad/iPhone apps can be found if they also work with Windows 7.
How the Duo works is like this:
Imagine you are lying down on the couch at home, using your Duo like an iPad/tablet. You’re scanning through your Twitter stream, laughing at some commentary going on between friends, and you want to add a bon mot.
Easy – there’s a virtual keyboard on the touch screen just as there is on the iPad.
Then you shift your attention to your email. You check your webmail account and most of it you can leave until the morning, but one in particular deserves a reply. You open up the Duo, flip the screen around and use ‘proper’ netbook keys to type your response. Hit ‘send’ and then flip the screen back to return to your iPad/tablet for more Twitter interactivity.
There’s a video of how it works below, plus some photos, including some with me and Marty Filipowski, Dell’s head honcho for Corporate Comms in Australia.
Pity about the name of the Duo, though… So… uninspiring and dull.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the Aus/NZ marketplace. Currently, CEOs are bringing their new iPads into work and asking the IT techs to connect them up so they can deal with their emails etc on the iPad. The techies (and the CTOs) are having heart failures because the iPads are so insecure in network security terms.
Along comes the Duo and because it runs Windows 7 and because it’s Dell you suddenly have a lot of much happier techies and CTOs, plus their CEO bosses can still have the playfulness and sheer usefulness of the tablet form, with a ‘proper’ keyboard if they need it, plus all of the inbuilt piping that goes with Windows 7 (and let’s not forget, Windows plays Flash, whereas Steve Jobs and Adobe are still miles apart).
According to sources close to me, the biggest add-on for the iPad is the bluetooth keyboard; having a iPad/tablet with a built-in ‘real’ keyboard when you need it (which is hidden when you don’t) is very neat.
I predict that Dell will have production problems with the Duo – they won’t be able to make enough of them to keep up with demand (a bit like the Streak; I’m STILL waiting to get my hands on a review model!)
There’s no final specs yet, nor a final availability date for Aus/NZ, but as soon as I know anything I’ll let you know.
Marty Filipowski of Dell ANZ and Lee Hopkins, with the Dell Inspiron Duo
Disclaimer: Dell flew me to Sydney to witness the unveiling of the ‘Dell Swarm’, where the Duo wasn’t ‘officially’ there, but somehow showed up unannounced