IDF — The highlight so far of Doug Davis's portion of today's IDF keynote was when a gentleman from the Dell ultra-mobility team took the stage to show off a 10" tablet device based on Atom and running Windows 7 Home Premium. After a quick demo of some touch-enabled apps, he mentioned that tablets lack one key thing for productivity: a keyboard. He then flipped open the device's clam-shell hinge and rotated the screen around inside of the frame—it's not a twist hinge like many tablet PCs, but rotates inside of the bezel itself—to a series of ooh and aahs from the crowd, which hadn't reacted to much else yet. This frame-based design looks to be more rugged than those traditional twist hinges.
The gent from Dell then asked the developers present to consider this sort of hardware when dreaming up and designing new applications.
In that instant, we got a look at the future of netbooks. We're dubious on the virtues of Windows 7 for touch-based user control, but those of you who listen to our podcast may recall that I've long predicted netbooks would eventually become convertible tablets. Looks like Dell is exploring that possibility in hardware already. In the midst of a buttoned-down keynote focused on Atom deployments in embedded applications, this quick glance at the likely future of personal computing devices stood out to us.