Toshiba [TYO:6502] is going to start shipping a new portable in Japan next week and it is called the Libretto W100. It is one of those unusual designs that can only start in a place like Japan. It is a dual screen design where one of the screens is a touchscreen, allowing for it to act as a keypad whenever necessary and a second screen whenever needed.
You might remember a similar design that was seen at CEATEC earlier this year. But that one was one single flexible screen being folded in two. This has two separate 7 inch displays. So it is only bordering on a netbook and will need a new category name if this goes mainstream. And even though it is smaller and probably has less power under the hood, it is priced at something equivalent to $1100 — above and beyond what netbook does and should cost. Adjusting the economic differences, it would come down to just below $1000 if sold in the US.
The availability in Japan is scheduled for the 11th of August apparently but there’s no news of it being available anywhere else. Seeing it from Toshiba’s point of view, there is no reason for them to want to release it elsewhere. Japan is the perfect testbed for a device such as this. The company of course does not expect to generate a lot of sales for this.
Instead, Toshiba is actually doing this as a way to test out a concept and see what the demand is for a design that is only going to appeal to certain niche markets. However, as touchscreens become more common and mass produced — we will see more of such devices. Touchscreens are becoming popular to the point where companies are starting to use them just to use them. So there is no getting away from them at the moment.
That was some fast work by Kohjinsha. It was was only one a few months ago when Kohjinsha was showing off a dual-screen netbok at CEATEC 2009, Japan. Back then, the company reps said that this was merely a proof of concept and there were no plans for commercial production. Well, now that showing off seems more like a viability test rather than a true showing of a proof of concept. I don’t think there has been this fast a movement from concept to finish (that too without any initial plans to mass produce) ever. So this was probably a planned move.
After all, they are very serious about their efficiency in Japan. This move sounds too whimsical if it really was decided to be mass produced right after CEATEC without any plans of it before that. So how is this netbook in person? Well, it is like any other netbook but with two separate screens running at once and slightly better specs.
The two 10.1 inch LCDo displays are jammed together side by side when open and they fold back into a normal laptop form factor when folded. Called the DZ, this netbook is packing AMD’s Athlon Neo processor which is better than an Atom Z550 at 2.0GHz. Performance wise, the reviewers tell us that YouTube videos are decent, 720p is slightly problematic and 1080p is extremely poor. WOW-POW did all the testing and apparently the DZ managed to run Castle Wolfenstein pretty smoothly. Well, considering the fact that I had once managed to run the same game on a Pentium III 1.13GHz/256MB SD RAM machine with 5MB onboard VRAM (shared), this is not much. But it does mean that it will be able to run older games at low settings. They could’ve just gone with ION. I guess they are afraid of this becoming too popular and killing their higher models.
It is on sale in Japan right now for the equivalent of $1050 or so.
Interead’s new 3G Reader
Interead is the startup company behind the fun-loving and simple Cool-er eBook reader. It it is no competition to the big wigs like the Sony readers, Kindle or even Nook but it is simple and relatively cheaper eBook reader that does the basic things.
The Cool-er hasn’t been all that popular and that is mainly because it is a first generation device and simply needed time to mature. The UI, the layout of the current model need changing but the menu system has been deemed alright by those who have used it. These things are still small compared to the lack of WiFi on the current model. This is exactly what is about to change on the Cool-er come 2010.
There were already rumors about a new Cool-er emerging early next year and the CEO had hinted at a color touchscreen enabled phone too. For now at least, the company has confirmed that there is a new Cool-er in the works and it will have 3G connectivity for wireless access to content wherever you are.
The company has apparently tied up with AT&T for this. Hopefully the device will also have improvements to the layout and the the UI as well. There have been no images of the new device in circulation, so we are unsure about all the cosmetic changes that the device will surely go through. Still, if Interead is serious about making the Cool-er the ‘iPod’ of the eBook Readers, it has to be a lot more user friendly.
This is just an upgrade to the Cool-er reader. The color touchscreen reader is probably still in the works.
Simon & Schuster Hold Back On eBooks
If you have been looking forward to reading new Simon & Schuster publications on your Kindle or Nook or some other reader, you will have to wait. According to the company’s CEO Caroly Reidy, there should be a delay expected between the the initial release of a book and the release of the eBook version.
That is mainly because the house does not want readers to start thinking that the new novels and such are worth only $10 or so — which is the price that most eBooks tend to charge. We are supposed to wait for the time in between the hardcover release and the paperback release. A more precise estimate was pegged at four months after release.
Four months is a long time and the gap isn’t even natural. This sort of forced gap is not to going to hold up very long in this world of instant data. As for the price, that debate has been going on for years now.
As publishing a book cuts out the physical costs such as paper, printing, binding, shipping and storing, the cost is bound to come down. And the drop in the perceived value of a work of art cannot be avoided all that easily. When you get something for $10 instead of something around 2.5 times that sum, you will automatically attach less value to it. It is only human.
But that does not mean that the digital age will kill of books. Apple made the music industry come off age and make the transition into digital through the iTunes store. Sure they tells us that a song is worth a cent less than $1 but it did manage to keep the industry from dying out and falling prey to piracy. So here’s hoping that these artificial gaps will be closed as soon as possible.
If you remember that intriguing dual-screen netbook back at CEATEC this year, it has now gone into production. They are accepting pre-orders and the device will be out soon. As in this December soon. Considering the fact that it was said to be a concept only some time back, that was some fast development the thing went through.
Called the Kohjinsha DZ, it will have two 10.1” screens that have 1024×600 pixels each, So when you fold it out, it will display 2048×600 pixels. This is not an Atom model.
It will be running on AMD’s Neo MV-40 processor, clocking at 1.6GHz, which is pretty standard for netbooks. Graphics will be handled by the integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics. Two DIMM slots support dual-channel architecture and will support up to 4GB of RAM. You will get a 160GB SATA HDD, Bluetooth 2.1 and EDR, WiFi N, Windows 7 Home Premium (32Bit).
You will also be getting a fingerprint scanner, although we all know by now that they are extremely easy to fool and/or bypass. It will be supplied power by a 6-cell 5200mAh battery. It has 3 USB 2.0 ports, one VGA, an SD and microSD card reader and the usual audio in/out.
Kohjisha DZ’s main product page is up right now and they are currently charging 79,800 for it. That converts to around $900 US. But since everything is more expensive in Japan, we can expect the US price to be lower.
Overall, I am sure it came has a mild shock to people who have followed Kohjinsha’s getting fed up of this. Whether anyone has any particulsr use for a dual screen is still debatable but I guess Kohjinsha sees some potential in it.
Kohjinsha has been showing off a new prototype at this year’s CEATEC at Japan. This is something that has set many hearts aflutter – a netbook with two LCD screens. Yes, it has two separate LCD panels sitting side by side on a netbook and this is an actual working prototype. So you have entire desktop being displayed across the two screens, making it a very wide display.
Each LCD panel can display a maximum resolution of 1366×768 and the netbook itself is running on Windows 7. The processor is not an Intel. The netbook is instead powered by AMD’s Athlon MV-40 processor, 4GB DDR2 RAM and a 2.5 SATA HDD.
The width of the display makes it outsize anything that any portable device has to offer in the current market. The folding mechanism ensures that both screens fold into a typical notebook form factor. But it will be something that is slightly thicker than the average netbook because it is about 1.7 inches thick while closed. It is also quite heavy at about 1.8 kilos. However, for those who want extra screen space, this should be much better then carrying around a USB monitor.
However, all this planning might just go to waste because this is nothing but a proof of concept from the company. So they have nothing to say regarding whether this will ever hit the shelves of retails stores. However, the main problem here is usually the target market for such a device and not the practicality of the fabrication, as displayed by the smoothly working prototype. So unless there is a huge market demand for portables with extra-wide screen spaces, concepts like Kohjinsha’s dual screen netbook will have to stay as mere concepts.