Inspiron Duo convertible tablet dated, detailed, and priced

Engadget got some hands on time with Dell's upcoming Inspiron Duo convertible tablet, and the site has more details about the device, its projected release date, and the expected price tag. The system will be based on Atom underpinnings and rely on the new dual-core N550 CPU for most of its processing. However, Dell is also including a Broadcom Crystal HD decoder chip capable of accelerating hi-def and Flash video playback. Throw in 2GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive, and the Inspiron starts to look like a premium netbook.

And then the capacitive touch screen flips within the bezel, and you've got a tablet. The screen itself is a 10.1" unit, but rather than sporting a relatively low 1024x600 resolution, it offers 1366x768 pixels. That resolution is normally reserved for screens 11.6" and larger, so it's a bit of a novelty on a 10-incher. Folks with poor eyesight might have to increase the default font size to make text easily readable at such a high DPI, though.

In addition to running Windows 7 Home Premium, the Duo features a Stage user interface that pops up automatically when you switch into tablet mode. This reportedly finger-friendly UI borrows heavily from the software included with Dell's smaller Streak tablet, and it's said to provide applications for picture, music, and video consumption. An eBook reader seems to be included, too, although there's no mention of how web surfing is handled when the Duo is configured as a tablet.

Convertibles typically aren't cheap, and the Duo is no exception. The system will start at $549, and you'll be able to add a few options, such as a larger hard drive and a speaker dock, to bring the price up to $649. That puts the Duo firmly at the high end of the netbook spectrum, although with tablet functionality and a high-res screen, the system has quite a lot more to offer than the average 10" Atom. Dell will reportedly begin taking pre-orders this month and start shipping its convertible Inspiron in the first week of December.

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