Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spy Shots: Dell’s 7-Inch Tablet Has a Slide-Out Split Keyboard

What the tablet world needs is innovation, and from these newly uncovered spy pics, it looks like Dell is the one stepping up with a design that’s unlike any other.
Rather than copying the look and feel of the iPad as so many other tablet manufacturers have done, Dell has apparently pinpointed one of the iPad’s weakest characteristics and improved upon it: its keyboard.
In these pictures (somehow obtained by Engadget), notice the split keyboard that’s not on this little 7-inch tablet’s touchscreen, but it’s part of a slide-out keypad that gives each of its users’ thumbs an easy shot at quick typing.

We’re getting a feeling of déjà vu here. Isn’t this design getting precariously close to those failed tablets of five years ago that Microsoft and Intel codenamed “Project Origami?” Some of those Ultra-Mobile PCs’ split keyboards were arranged on either side of the screen, and some even had slide-out keyboards.
Maybe Dell figures the reason those Origami PCs didn’t succeed was because they were underpowered, their touchscreens didn’t work well, they were too big, heavy and overpriced — not because their keyboards weren’t good.
Back to the present, Dell presented this prototype in both black and white finishes, and each had a rear camera which we hope has better quality than the iPad’s. Beyond those specs, there’s precious little info about when we might see this tablet design hit the marketplace, if ever.
Still, perhaps copycat manufacturers might want to take a look at this design rather than creating yet another Apple-esque slab. What do you think, commenters? Is this throwback to the past an improvement on the iPad and all the other tablets that look just like it?

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