First look video: Toshiba "touch" netbook prototype shows how Japanese might fight back against iPad (oh, and a cool 3D laptop, too)

The iPad is highly popular around the world and is taking market share away from netbooks. That much you can see all around you.

But, how could the other manufacturers fight back?

Here Toshiba shows a new prototype they are calling the Libretto W100 that has two seven-inch touch screens that could make the netbook more interesting to potential iPad users.

Now, hardware is only 1/8th the battle. The rest is software and there Apple is way ahead, especially if Toshiba is forced to use Microsoft’s Windows, which, even with Windows 7, doesn’t feel as good on touch devices as Apple’s iOS does. Note, too, that for this prototype Toshiba had to custom build a new touch keyboard. But, at least you can see that such a hardware, if matched with Android, or with HP’s touch OS that it bought from Palm, that there’s a future for Japanese manufacturers. I found the idea to be compelling when I saw it, and could see lots of uses for a two-screen touch netbook. I hope they take it further than just a prototype.

Here’s Engadget’s report on the W100 prototype and here’s Gizmodo’s report. Reported pricing is way too high to gain any mass-market share and they need to dump Windows 7 and get a fully-touch-oriented OS to get me interested.

While there I also saw a new 3D laptop, the A665 3D, which has a new kind of screen designed for 3D gaming. I played some games on this and the effect is stunning. Unfortunately it requires special glasses and won’t be for everyone, but if you are a gamer or want to see a 3D movie, this new laptop is stunning. Gizmodo has more info on this laptop from Toshiba.

A few weeks ago I visited with Toshiba, and made this video demo of both models.

Features available on the Toshiba libretto W100 include:
 Dual 7.0-inch diagonal multi-touch displays7 (1024 x 600)
 6-mode virtual keyboard with haptic response
 Windows® 7 Home Premium operating system
 Intel® Pentium® U5400 processor1 (1.2GHz)
 2GB DDR3 memory2
 62GB Solid State Drive3
 1.0 megapixel HD Webcam with Toshiba Face Recognition
 802.11 b/g/n wireless4
 Bluetooth 2.1+EDR5
 MicroSD card slot
 One USB 2.0 port
 TOSHIBA Bulletin Board, ReelTime™ and PC Health Monitor software
 8-cell battery
 7.95” (W) x 4.84”(D) x 1.2”(H)
 1.8 lbs.6

Comments

  1. If Microsoft is going to scrap their courier project anyway, wouldn't it make sense Toshiba to either partner with them or just buy the technology? It seems like if Microsoft has already done the research and tackled a lot of the design issues of this two-screen configuration, it would be a waste for Toshiba to go and do their own.

  2. That thing looks bulky. While I would have liked the iPad to be more of a tablet *computer* than just an over-sized iPod Touch this falls way short on design aesthetics IMO. I do like the two screen approach and think it’s one of the form factors that will survive, but it can’t be that bulky and it CANNOT be Win7.

  3. If Microsoft really had something usable it would have gone to market with it itself. If I were at Toshiba I'd be looking hard at Android.

    1. It’s hardly twice. The 64GB Ipad cost 700$, 829$ for the 3G version. But yes, it’s quite expensive.

    2. Why would you assume that it would be “twice the price” than an iPad?

      I think the main benefit of the design is being able to close it and not require a case to protect your screen. The prototype has a giant gap between the screens, but if they could minimize that distance this would be awesome. Classic form design for reading books also.

      I’d say it has major potential, but, alas, is still just vapor.

    3. I like it. Like a book. Natural feeling, and you get double the screen for half the area when it’s folded. Way better concept than an iPad.

  4. I agree – it is pointless to make interesting tablet hardware without coupling it with interesting tablet software. I hope that given Android's ready availability – someone soon takes it along the same path that Apple to iOS from phone to tablet. Competition could ramp up quicker in the tablet space than it did in the phone space because of that. The dark horse here, though, is HP – the only other very large company that owns the entire stack now. I don't have a ton of hope for that, but the ingredients are there…

  5. Cool hardware. And Robert, you need to look again on software dominance. Apple is still way way behind. Have you seen iOS4 on dual screens yet? Didn't think so. Shoot, they barely do multitasking.

  6. Not only that, the whole point of a soft keyboard is so you can minimize the form factor, reducing weight and size. A great touch interface let's you get away with that. So Toshiba creates a laptop with a bottom half as big as the bottom half of a netbook, and you don't even get a hard keyboard? Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ives are laughing their asses off.

  7. That proves you have no clue about what's really important. If those two things were what was important then Windows 7-based tablets would be FLYING off the shelves.

  8. Amish, which one is more expensive? Another screen or a case? It is simply not worth it and it is just fit for the $100 laptop project

  9. “you can minimize the form factor, reducing weight and size.”

    Well, looks pretty small and lightweight to me.

    You can fold this and, euh, “minimize the form factor”!.. and protect the screen!… and you can adjust your viewing angle!

  10. I've been waiting for this – Next year or the year after I expect Steve jobs to walk on stage with an iPad in his hand and say – “Have you wanted to just put your iPad in your pocket and go?” and he will fold the iPad-2-Go in half – made possible because of its OLED screen.

  11. I want to see a 3D laptop that runs longer than 60 minutes on batteries. Eats power like the first DirectX graphic chip laptops did? Still awesome to have such a thing at home. This is an ordinary LCD screen that just uses the 120Hz =2x60Hz technology + shutter glasses – like they did with the first 3D games.

  12. That Libretto looks so cool! Not too thrilled at the 3D laptop though. 3D makes me head spin. :( But I'm curious about it. It will probably bring a whole different level of realism to gaming.

  13. Okay so I have not been positive on the Windows based tablet segment seeing Apple as taking the early lead with Android based devices poised to really make a strong showing soon. This device however has me drooling and wishing I could be one of those “winning the lottery.” Love the form factor and seeing actual size when held…. I am salivating. Hope that there really will be a way to purchase one :-)

  14. Shazaam! I see that they have a web page up to prep for sales, even if limited. Just faorited and will keep an eye out. Thanks for doing this vid clip. I was mildly interested, but skeptical, about it before seeing and while I still think a tablet specific UI is needed for these class devices seeing it actually being held and interacted with has me jazzed. Saving my pennies http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/ebtext.to?p

  15. i like toshiba, i’m using toshiba for 5 years.. but with windows 7 on it…, if i buy that, i will erase windows and install it with linux… :D