Just ordered a Dell Inspiron Duo Convertible


I’ve been thinking about ordering a new laptop / tablet for awhile now.  I wanted something to keep me ‘organized’.  I had the following qualifications:

  • Portable – small and light
  • Convertible into a tablet or a netbook  So I can enter information (like a posting) and / or use it as a reader in tablet mode.
  • Multitouch – for use when in tablet mode.  Plus I think ‘multi-touch’ and surface is going to be the future.
  • Wireless N Wifi – Fast wireless networking (why else would I have Wireless N in my house?)
  • Bluetooth – for communicating with devices, headsets, etc…
  • Reasonably priced

I’ve been using a older convertible netbook – a Toshiba Portege M200.  at 15” its not a bad laptop and tablet it required the use of a stylish while in tablet mode and I was always afraid of loosing the small, light, $30 pen.  Plus it did not have the ‘flick’ and ‘drag’ which is becoming so common.  Not to mention the fact that one of the USB ports physically ‘broke’ leaving me with a single USB port – usually used for the mouse because typing with the touchpad would find the cursor literally bouncing over the screen as my hands get to close to the touchpad and ‘tap’ it.  Reading a reference book in tablet mode was somewhat awkward. The unit is heavy and to scroll up and down you need to use the stylish.  Once I thought I had dropped the stylish on the bus never to be seen again.

Before the Toshiba I had (and still have) a Fujitsu tablet – even older.  But that had not keyboard which proved frustrating. I am hoping that a tablet I can ‘type’ on via touch with a keyboard would solve that problem.  I wonder of I can get OSX to run on it….

What did I get?  A Dell Inspiron Duo Convertible Tablet. 

Dell Inspiron Mini Duo
Key Features
  • Picture perfect. Experience superb visuals on the 10.1-inch HD multitouch display.
  • Converts to your needs. The unique flip-hinge design enables seamless transition between touch and type modes.
  • Your life at your fingertips. The intuitive touch screen and duo Stage software provide quick and easy access to your music, movies and photos.
  • Support for Adobe Flash. View your multimedia the way it was designed to be seen with the fully Flash-capable Inspiron duo.
  • See me, hear me. Stay connected to friends and family with the 1.3 MP Webcam5 and microphone.
  • 10.1-inch high-definition display with 1366 x 768-pixel resolution for native HD 720p display and featuring a 16:9 aspect ratio that brings all your entertainment to life in stunning bright colors.
  • 1.5 GHz Intel Atom dual-core N550 processor (1 MB L2 cache, 667 MHz FSB) combines performance and energy efficiency to provide new levels of support for applications like games, as well as Adobe Flash technology for improved access to multimedia sites such as YouTube and Hulu.
  • 320 GB SATA hard drive (5400 RPM)
  • 2 GB installed DDR3 RAM (800 MHz)
  • Integrated Intel NM10 Express graphics with Microsoft DirectX 9.0 support.
  • Wireless-N Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) for ultra-fast connectivity to home and business networks (plus backwards compatibility with older wireless routers).
  • Bluetooth connectivityenables you to communicate and synchronize wirelessly with Bluetooth-enabled peripherals such as printers and cell phones.
  • Comfortable keyboard that’s 92 percent the size of a standard laptop keyboard with curved keys for a comfortable fit. Also includes a new palm rest that helps resist fingerprints.
  • Stereo speaker with 2 watts of power
  • 1.3-megapixel webcam with digital array microphone

    Dell Inspiron Mini DuoDell Inspiron Mini Duo

    …with just a flip of the screen.

  • Windows 7 Home Premium makes it easy to create a home network and share all of your favorite photos, videos, and music. And you can watch shows for free when and where you want with Internet TV on Windows Media Center. Get the best entertainment experience with Windows 7 Home Premium.

Its portable but not too small.  Convertible from tablet to netbook.  Has a responsive multi-touch. 

Also I have a USB based Card reader and an USB based DVD drive already (which show how much loosing the second USB port on the toshiba really hurt.)

I had thought about an Android-based tablet.  But the ones I’ve seen were too limited in capacity – yes I think that 32Gb is just too small and had a only-touch interface.  I am confortable typing on a keyboard – I still might make the transisition to a ‘screen keyboard’ but not yet.

And it has Windows 7 Home Premium so will fit nicely with my home group at home.  Windows 7 is also supposed to be very ‘multi-touch’ friendly enabling all the ‘swipe’ and ‘flicks’ you could want.

Some may say “well it doesn’t have a lot of punch” to which I say it doesn’t have to have – If I want a lot of punch I have some pretty good ‘punchers’ at home.  In other words: Its not a desktop!  Its not a Laptop! It’s a netbook / tablet!

You wouldn’t want to play any high-graphics games on the little screen anyway.  Or do much hardcode development.

Wired had a scathing review of it – which mostly consisted of ‘It isn’t an Ipad!’.

So I ordered it at Costco for $499 (plus tax).  Costco also has an excellent 90 day return guarantee.

Will follow up this posting after it arrives.  With any luck posting from the Duo.

Gigabit Networking – At home

I recently upgraded my home wired ethernet network to a Gigabit network.    The reason was that I recently purchased a Wireless-N switch/access point and I thought – well 150 or 300Mb wireless speed is nice – but useless if it’s on a 100Mb ‘fast’ network.

So I get together a bunch of Gb switches.  Some netgear switches and a big Dell Managed switch to be the central HUB (Bought it on Ebay).   I setup the managed switch and use it to replace my old 100Mb main house switch and replace some of the remote switches with Netgear Gb switches.

Well first off not all the Gb switches would communicate with the main switch at Gb speed.  the standard cat5 cable between them was to long.   Now the CAT5 cable being used for these long runs was some I purchased at Costco for about $50 for 500’ and I’ll crimp on the end pieces myself using a crimper.   I hop back on Ebay and purchase a couple of 50’ length of CAT5e cable (enhanced) cable for these long runs.

Disaster!  OMG! No Internet!

Then came the snow when I found myself on a bus for 7 hours trying to get home (a trip which normally takes 1/2 hour). When I got home the home network was down – the central switch I bought on ebay had failed.  So I found myself scampering around to replace at least some of it.   I ended up moving my Asus switch/router (and the cable modem it was attached to) and using it to replace main switch to get at least some of the runs going.    The one to my office was critical (I was going to work at home the next day) and a couple others for the wife and TV.  As it was the ASUS router was also a Gb switch.  All this was sitting on a chair next to my little ‘cable closet’ behind the wall.

A couple of weeks go by and I start the project to replace the cables with the cat5E.  Remove a couple of ceiling panels running down the duct work in the basement and ran 2 nice red cat5e cables alongside the ductwork (perfect for a cable run) and at the end – one cable went up, through a hole in the ceiling under a built-in cabinet we were building for the new TV (if we ever finished it) – the other went down and out through an outlet.  I had thought about having a cat5 connector outlet at the wall but then decided to simply run the cable out the outlet to hang loose. I also connected a coax cable running to the Satellite dish to the outlet as well. 

When I was finished this outlet had a phone connection, 2 coax connections (Satellite and Cable) and a red CAT5e  cable coming out of it.  The cat5 cable is then connected to a gigabit switch (which uses it at gigabit speed now – whoo-hoo!), a blu-ray player, a computer (media), a Playstation (2), and a Voip phone device (which in turn is connected to a cordless phone base station).

Later I replaced added another gigabit switch to help replace the main ‘house’ switch.  My wife looked at the cable mess in my little ‘cable closet’ (an area behind the wall behind the furnace) and built in a couple of shelves in a little nook to hold (read: hide) all the equipment (switches, wireless, power strip, etc…) and we organized the cables.