There’s certainly a lot going on with the new Touch Book by a company called Always Innovating. From afar, it may seem like your average netbook – 8.9-inch screen with 1024×600 resolution, thin-and-light form factor, etc. – but get up close and you’ll notice that the ubiquitous Intel Atom CPU has been replaced by an ARM processor, commonly found in smaller mobile devices.
The machine is a tablet, too, and the entire screen can even detach from the keyboard altogether. Since it uses such a low-power processor, Always Innovating is promising 10- to 15-hour battery life. There are actually two batteries; one inside the screen and one inside the keyboard. The OS is a custom “Touch Book OS” and the company claims that since everything’s open source, you could “install many OSes on the device, including Google Android, Ubuntu, Angstrom and Windows CE, though we would not recommend the latter.”
The machine is an always-on device and is noiseless since there are no fans or disk drives (it uses an 8GB MicroSD card for storage). Total weight is less than two pounds. As far as the touchscreen interface is concerned, “The Touch Book OS has two modes: one for use with keyboard and touchpad, and one for use as a standalone touchscreen tablet. The innovative 3D interface is easy to use and does not require a stylus or a skinny pinky.”
It will also include Mozilla’s Fennec browser and – get this – the screen is magnetic, so when you detach it from the keyboard you can “put the tablet on the fridge to serve as a kitchen computer or digital frame.” Finally, there are a whopping six USB ports – three internal, two external, and one mini. The internal ports are for things like a wireless dongle or a USB thumb drive – stuff you wouldn’t want hanging off the side of the machine all the time.
The Touch Book will be available in “May or June 2009” and will come in two versions; tablet only or netbook (tablet + keyboard). The tablet version will cost $299 and the netbook version will cost $399. Those are both going to likely be tough prices for would-be customers to swallow but perhaps the cool features, tiny weight, and super long battery life will be enough to win people over. If the company could eventually lop $100 off each model, though, this thing might have a much better chance.
- 9.4″ x 7″ x 1.4″ for 2 lbs (with keyboard)
- ARM Texas Instruments OMAP3 chip
- 1024×600 8.9” screen
- Storage: 8GB micro SD card
- Wifi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth
- 3-dimensional accelerometer
- Speakers, micro and headphone
- 6 USB 2.0 (3 internal, 2 external, 1 mini)
- 10h to 15 hours of battery life
- Able to play HD video 720p in full screen
Full press release:
New Touch Book Combines Netbook and Touchscreen Tablet; Provides Three Times the Battery Life at Under Two Pounds
PALM DESERT, Calif., March 2 /PRNewswire/ — Always Innovating today unveiled the Touch Book, a versatile new device that works as both a netbook and a tablet thanks to a detachable keyboard and a 3D touchscreen user interface. The Touch Book, previewed at DEMO 09, weighs less than two pounds as a netbook and has a battery life of 10 to 15 hours — three times longer than most netbooks.
“The Touch Book is perfect for these tough economic times because you can use it in so many ways,” said Gregoire Gentil, founder of Always Innovating and creator of the Touch Book. “You can use it as a netbook computer, a hand-held game device, or a video player. You can even reverse the keyboard to prop it up on a table in an inverted ‘V’. Finally, because it is magnetic, you can remove the keyboard and put the tablet on the fridge to serve as a kitchen computer or digital frame.”
The Touch Book combines the best of open source software and open hardware with a sleek industrial design by designer Fred Bould. The innovative design includes internal USB plugs. “I hate having dongles hanging from my laptop – I often end up disconnecting them accidentally — so we opted to put the USB inside,” said Gentil.
The Touch Book is the first netbook featuring an ARM processor from Texas Instruments, resulting in outstanding battery life, and a fan less, heat-and-noise-free system.
According to Chris Shipley, executive producer of the DEMO Conferences, the Touch Book’s innovative architecture and industrial design earned it a spot on the DEMO conference stage. “The longer battery life is a boon to netbook users. But the Touch Book’s versatility – its ability to function as a netbook as well as a standalone touchscreen tablet – makes it a breakthrough product,” said Shipley.
The Touch Book is expected to ship in late spring and will start at $299. Advance orders can be placed at http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/store/.
Touch Book [Always Innovating]