Cracking open the Dell Inspiron Duo
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. He was most recently Managing Editor for TechRepublic Pro. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.
Did you happen to miss this item?? By build shows it in the parts description however I can find it...and sadly neither can Dell Techs are 2 failed attempts to their service center.
I really wish that these teardowns were available as a pdf file. If there is, where is the location?
I own one of these things is one of the things that made the Duo interesting to me was the built in SIM socket. And by extension the ability to use cellular data. I see where a SIM card could go but there is not SIM socket there and I was not given the option to add one when I ordered the system. Did you see any room for a cellular data modem?
The lid hinges seem pretty standard to me. I would expect them to be as durable as those on the average laptop or netbook. As for the display's swivel hinges, they seemed fairly sturdy. I wouldn't put much pressure on them, but then you wouldn't likely be pushing directly on the hinge during normal operation.
I agree a PDF versio fo this woudl be a lot of help. I love reading the tear downs. But it takes so long to keep skipping from image to image. A PDF version woudl really increase the readability.
I was also puzzled by the apparent lack of a cellular circuit board inside the Duo. I could have missed it, but in most of the cellular-enabled machines I've disassembled, there is a separate cellular PCB and antenna.
Without it, the SIM card slot is just a handy place to keep an unused SIM card. edit: At the Dell site, all I can see is "No mobile connectivity selected". However, i can find no way to select it. Bit of a puzzler, that.
Handy guide - thanks a bunch. I have the similar model that I picked up used without the WWAN option and I've been researching what it would take to add one. Near as I have been able to figure out that second slot is in fact the one for either the WWAN or other WiMax and similar type connectors. Presumably Dell also throws on some kind of a sim reader at the end of the slot underneath and probably something for an antenna. But without seeing a teardown of the WWAN enabled model, it's hard to say what is entirely needed to retro-fit one with the other. Obviously the extra PCI-e is on the other side of the PC board from where the sim is located which seems par for the course as most PCI-e Gobi devices do not have a sim slot on them. I've seen a number of ribbons for sale with the sim-reader on the end, but again, without having one of the wwan pci-e devices in front of me, I'm not sure if the ribbon connects directly to the wwan card or somewhere on the motherboard. This raises the question of compatibility on various pci-e wwan options, as the one dell had with this is 3G which will rapidly become out-moded. There are newer PCI-e WWAN devices available with a similar footprint that might work if you could figure out a way to install a card reader and get an antenna in there somehow. Chasing down the part numbers of these from Dell was not too difficult although I had to go through half-a-dozen members of the support staff until someone could find them in the system. I suppose I could try it again to see if they can find the SIM reader and anything about the antenna for these devices. If anyone has any more information please let me know. I had to tear into mine because the original over-heated one of the tabs on the battery door. I sent it in for service and they replaced some of the over-heating components but sent it back without replacing the actual bottom cover which had the melted tab on it (the battery door wouldn't stay shut). I sent it back and again they returned it unfixed. So I eventually just had them send me the bottom and I swapped the parts out myself rather than go without the laptop for another few weeks and risk having it come back unfixed yet again.
I remember reading that Dell was releasing the WiFi only version first, then following up in Feb or Mar 2011 with the WiFi + 3G version. The inclusion of the SIM slot in the WiFi only version was probably just to cut costs by only having one mold for the plastic bits / etc. If some hardware hackers find unused headers on the motherboard for something interesting (extra USB ports, display out), this might be a good place to add them to the system.
just to the right of the wireless card it looks like there is a place for another connector, I'd be willing to bet that is the WWAN card location, but without a connector. Puzzling indeed, guess that is why the antenna is also missing.