Its pretty rare that I find a device that shatters all my expectations and imaginations, and fully deserving of a blog on my site. First let me go over the background; My day to day job consists of nonstop productivity with all the businesses I run, meetings, and giving presentations. I needed a solution that incorporates my paper notebooks and various laptops. Notice I put those in plural because that’s what it takes to get me through the day. My budget was to get the cheapest device possible that will help me eliminate some of the things I was juggling and carrying throughout the day. First criteria is the size, it cannot have larger footprint than my regular notebook, its about 11”x8”x1”. Here are all the devices I evaluated and my thoughts on them.
First up is the new Ipad2. Contrary to my previous post on MacBook pro, I truly feel Apple did an amazing thing with their Ipad. Its crisp, sexy, responsive, excellent battery life, and from what I hear it does “everything” right. So I was all excited to pick one of these up and went to check it out, especially considering they start at only $499. I tried out my friend’s 16 GB Ipad2 and was extremely disappointed. I quickly realized importance of a real qwerty push button keyboard, not that screen touch keyboard. If you are blogging, writing reports, answering countless emails, you NEED a real keyboard, don’t even kid yourself on this one. So my friend goes, “Here is a wireless keyboard for the Ipad.” So I give that a try and it was even worse!! I’m sitting in a chair holding Ipad with one hand, balancing the keyboard on my lap while trying to type with the other hand. I also find out I needed to run Microsoft office and bunch of other software on it. Only realistic thing I can see myself using the Ipad is for surfing the web and running those cute apple apps. This is apple’s real reason for not releasing the full spec of the Ipad. It is SEVERLY underpowered for running real modern software. I find out its only got 512mb of ram! its plenty good for running all the cute apple apps but that is just a joke to me. Then I find out its offered at 64GB storage for $699. That’s just not adequate for what I need.
After learning so much from Ipad2, I decided a fully qwerty keyboard is a must. This automatically ruled out xoom, galaxy tab, and all the other tablets.
Next I looked into 10” netbooks. They seem ideal for most of what I do and they are definitely priced right at under $400 for most of them. I found two biggest problems with these cheap netbooks. First, its got the windows starter OS on it. This is too limiting and I would have to upgrade to at least Windows7 professional for about $100. Second, I really need the tablet function similar to Ipad and xoom. Tablet function is absolutely critical when I’m giving presentation on 1:1 basis with customer or client. It’s a must feature and these cheap netbooks don’t have it.
So my final destination brings us to the convertible laptop category. I looked into convertibles from Asus, Acer, HP, and Dell. I’m sure any one of those laptops would have gotten the job done, but the Dell Inspiron duo is the only one with the “WOW” factor that no other convertibles have. Words can’t describe the design of the mechanism but you’ll know what I mean if you check it out in YouTube or Dell Website. So needless to say I went with the Inspiron Duo and it has been everything I wanted it to be. Its powerful enough to run all the applications on my Alienware, minus some engineering specific software, and I was even impressed it brought up an entire spacecraft model in Edrawing software. I wasn’t able to rotate/pan/zoom on it, but it is still freakin impressive that it pulls it up. Now there are some misses with the Inspiron Duo. First I really wish it had removable battery, its only got 3hour battery life which means I’m charging this at least one additional time in a day. The touch feature is not as precise and crisp as the xoom or Ipad. It is running full blown Windows 7 Professional and its really hard to integrate capacitive touch to fully work on this operating system. At the same time it is the best operating system because it runs everything. It was a no brainer giving up some precision for productivity capability of windows 7 operating system. BUT…. Microsoft does offer an excellent solution for lack of precision with its touch function. They have a virtual mouse that can be enabled and you use your finger to drag the mouse around and click on its buttons, it is SLICK!! Windows 7 also comes with it Media Center that seems to work flawlessly, and it interfaces to my Windows Home Server perfectly. I am streaming all my movies, videos, music, and photos from my home server right on to my Inspiron duo in a tablet mode. Dell definitely hit a homerun with this product because it’s a real productive computer that will handle most of your business needs.