updated 06:00 am EDT, Tue May 27, 2008
VIA this morning set out its version of the future for micro notebooks with the OpenBook. The 8.9-inch portable is the sequel to last year's NanoBook and earns its name through its uniquely open-source chassis. Unlike most stock designs, the blueprints for the outer panels are put under a liberal Share Alike version of the Creative Commons license: this lets third-party PC makers freely remake the outside of the notebook without the trouble of negotiating for a license. The shift will give many companies a unique PC of their own that gets to market for less money and more quickly than rivals, VIA hopes.
Inside, the design is also more advanced than many (though not all) systems in the class. The ultra-low power 1.6GHz VIA C7-M chip is faster than used in past systems but is also accompanied by a dedicated side video processor that lets the system play HD movies from several formats at full speed. Wireless is also a strong component, the company says; while a basic system includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, a second module can supply WiMAX for Xohm and similar 4G wide-area networks, 3G over HSDPA for North America and Europe, and WCDMA-based 3G for Japan and Korea.
The OpenBook also promises extras such as a 2-megapixel webcam (up from 1.3 on very recent opponents), eight-channel audio, and a multi-format card reader.
As a reference system, the 2.2-pound notebook isn't expected to enter production by itself. However, VIA expects notebook creators to build systems of their own in coming months and notes that the system has choices of various Linux builds, Windows XP or Vista, and the Linux-based G-OS; the latter is currently the choice of Everex's CloudBook and hints at the possibility of a larger version of the design.
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