The Touch Book: The $300 Tablet PC

The Touch Book: The $300 Tablet PC

Range Govindan
Mar 2, 2009

With the state of modern computers in a flux, my roommate and I were discussing the perfect computer situation. He said that having a larger laptop at home, a powerful 15.4" or 17" machine, as well as a smaller netbook or tablet PC would do the trick. The main thing would be to have your smaller laptop with you at all times. Even though laptops are getting smaller and smaller, I have to say that even my 13.3" Asus is pretty heavy to lug around. It's not heavy by itself, but add it to the charger and the other stuff I need to have with me during a normal day and it adds up. My roommate wondered about a small tablet PC, something like a netbook tablet PC. It's pretty certain that Asus will release a Tablet Eee PC later this year, but for now there aren't any such laptops on the market. That is until the Touch Book was announced.

Is it the perfect solution? Probably not. The Touch Book from Always Innovating is a convertible netbook. It has a fully detachable keyboard and dock, which transforms the netbook into a tablet PC. Contrary to most manufacturers, the hardware and software is supposed to be fully open source, meaning that this little machine will be ready for a number of modifications. It comes with its own custom Linux-based OS, but Grégoire Gentil, the man who spearheaded this project, mentions that it can run Android and Windows CE.

It comes with a 600MHz processor, 256MB or RAM, an accelerometer, a microSD card and an 8.9" screen. It has the usual Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity. Always Innovating says that the Touch Book will have between 10 and 15 hours of autonomy, which in everyday use means about 5-7. This is when its used in the fully docked keyboard mode. The tablet has an autonomy of about 3-5 hours. The tablet weighs about a pound. When its docked, it weighs double. It will start shipping in late May or early June for about $300 for the tablet or $400 for the keyboard dock combination.

I have mixed feelings about this. I used to think like my roommate, but the one thing that we both agree on is that spreading your data over a number of machines is always a hassle, especially if you work on computers day-in day-out. It's better to have one solution for all your needs, even if this means transporting a laptop with a larger form factor. That being said, I'm not looking to purchase a tablet PC anytime soon. I'm actually gleefully eying the new MacBook Pro 17". [Always Innovating via various]

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