The limited-edition Toshiba libretto W100 dual-screen tablet PC unveiled earlier this week is an intriguing device because it is so feature-rich and deviates from the current tablet PC norm. But Toshiba isn’t just trying to stick out in the market. They may be using the libretto’s kitchen sink approach to tablet PCs to test the waters for a wide-release device in the near future.
Above all else, the libretto’s specs stand out; they far exceed those found on the iPad or the pending crop of Android devices. For starters, the libretto shuns Atom in favor of a dual-core CULV 1.2GHz Intel Pentium U5400 processor. It also has 2GB of DDR3 RAM and a 62GB SSD. While that all bodes well for performance, it will eat into the eight-cell battery’s supply, which could provide four to five hours of juice.
Hands on the libretto
I spent some hands-on time with the new libretto tablet PC at a recent event outside the CEA Line Shows. My first reaction to the W100 was that it resembled a big Nintendo DS, the dual screen portable gaming handset. This was a comment the Toshiba rep claimed she heard from many others. Surprisingly however, the W100 was relatively light (1.8 pounds). I easily grasped it width-wise in one hand and could probably fit it into a cargo pants pocket.
As for touch, I found the dual 7-inch screens to be very responsive. The libretto runs Windows 7 Home Premium so this was both welcome and necessary. While Windows 7 does technically support touch, it was obviously not built for it. Navigating deep into a menu can be difficult with a fingertip, which is probably why Toshiba included a virtual touch pad and software with widget-based shortcuts to files, links, calendars and notes. Otherwise, there is quick access to everything a user could conceivably need, but the OS lacks the overall fluidity and simplicity of the iPad.
The libretto’s four virtual keyboard displays struck me most, however. Users can activate the keyboards via a quick-launch button on the lower screen’s left edge. Thanks to a slight vibration when a key is pushed, it’s perhaps the closest a virtual keyboard can come to a physical unit. Users can connect a keyboard via Bluetooth or USB and take advantage of the two-screen setup.
Especially of note is a split keyboard function that nudges the keys to either side ofthe screen while keeping them well within thumb reach. I was able to hold the W100 lengthwise and type away like a texting teenager.
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