Dell Outs ‘Inspiron Duo’ Tablet/Netbook Hybrid

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This thing is crazy, and maybe in a good way. At Intel’s developers conference today, Dell showed off what appeared to be a netbook at first glance. Then the guy holding it apparently swiveled the 10-inch touchscreen around 180 degrees inside its own frame, closed the computer as one would do with a standard notebook, and then—boom—it’s a tablet.

So basically when the screen is facing the “outside” of the computer, it’s a tablet. Swivel the screen back around while exposing the keyboard and it’s a computer. The machine will apparently run Windows 7 atop a dual-core Intel processor and be available “later this year” according to UMPC Portal.

This may very well be a good look at where tablets and notebooks are heading. While this particular configuration reportedly runs Windows 7 in both netbook and tablet modes, we’ll likely see similar devices that may run a more power- and finger-friendly operating system while in tablet mode (Android, webOS, Chrome OS, etc.) and then leverage a full operating system when in notebook mode. Lenovo is on the right path with its IdeaPad U1, though it’s unclear if the machine will ever see the light of day.

Eventually, of course, the hardware will be able to support full operating systems without any of the tradeoffs associated with the upcoming crop of Windows-based slates and tablets (battery life, mostly). It appears that Dell is taking an early run at that ideal with the introduction of this hybrid machine.

UPDATE: Photo added (via Wired)…

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They Should Make It: HP Slate Dual Booting Win7 and WebOS

Lenovo IdeaPad U1: Hybrid Netbook/Tablet