updated 12:25 pm EST, Mon March 2, 2009
Always Innov Touch Book
Tech startup Always Innovating is using the start of the DEMO expo today to unveil the Touch Book, a system which its creator considers one of the first truly hybrid netbooks. The system can work both as a traditional notebook or as a convertible tablet but can also detach the keyboard entirely from the system to use it as a stand-alone touchscreen device. A set of magnets built into the back even lets users mount the screen on a refrigerator or elsewhere.
Always Innovating sees the system as a potential competitor not only to netbooks but to handheld electronics like the iPod touch or PSP; when in tablet mode, it can be used as a touch-driven game system or as a video player.
Unlike most netbooks, the Touch Book passes on Intel's Atom in favor of a Texas
In a further unique touch, the system includes three "internal" USB ports, which prevent adapters from jutting outwards, alongside two full-size external connectors and one mini USB port.
Instruments OMAP3 ARM processor that's said to combine the performance of a notebook with a netbook, including an unusually long 10-15 hour runtime and an instant boot while still managing 720p video playback. Always Innovating claims to have developed a custom operating system with a "3D" interface but also says its system won't be software-locked and should run with Android, Ubuntu Linux or other operating systems that run natively on ARM processors.
Official pricing should be kept down to $299 by offloading storage demands to an 8GB microSDHC card as well as by using an 8.9-inch display and limiting networking to 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Pre-orders start today, though the system will ship only in the late spring.