Hands on: Toshiba Libretto W100 review
21st Jun 2010 | 06:01
Does the world's first dual touchscreen laptop impress?
Look and feel
The mobile computing world is going through a state of flux at the moment and it all started with the netbook.
These dainty little machines brought to the mass market the idea that you can have a computer with all the functionality of a laptop which can fit into your bag with no unsightly bulge and without the back-breaking weight.
Then came the iPad, giving users the idea that you can have your netbook cake and eat it, while doing away with unnecessary things like keyboards, replacing usability with bit-sized functionality, in the form of apps.
When TechRadar was summoned by Toshiba to a secret press conference late last week which would show off the 'future of mobile computing' we thought that some sort of tablet device was just what we were going to see – bearing in mind Toshiba brought us the Journ,E just last year – but what was announced was something quite different.
The Libretto W100 takes its name from a now defunct range of Toshiba subnotebooks which, although launched back in 1996, were a precursor to the netbooks we see today.
This Libretto is another potential game changer – the world's first dual touchscreen laptop, which tests the Windows 7 OS to its limit.
Since the launch of Windows 7, we've never really seen how versatile its touchscreen capabilities can be. Yes, we've taken a look at touchscreen PCs like the Dell Studio One but the results haven't exactly blown us away. This is because multi-touch is usually best left for smartphones.
The Libretto, with its two 7-inch screens is closest thing to a smartphone we have used the Windows 7 OS on. And, we are not talking about a slim-lined version here, but full Windows Home Premium.
Because it is the full OS, The W100 is a tad on the chunky side. Once you clamp the clamshell exterior together it measures 30.7mm, which is thicker than you would hope for a device like this.
Functionality and use
But within its bulky frame is a computer with a lot of possibility. The option of two screens means that you can work on a document on one while checking your emails in another, or check your social networks in one screen and play games in the other.
The idea of using dual screens is not a new one but on the W100 it seems to work, even if it does look like an over-sized Nintendo DS.
The use of touchscreen means that there is no real keyboard here to type away on. Anyone who has used the iPad knows this is a bugbear, even with things like haptic feedback helping you. The Libretto suffers from the same problem, although it offers a number of different types of virtual keyboards which is a great idea.
And unlike the iPad, this is a device which doesn't have to be tethered to a store to function properly. There is both a USB and microSD card slot on board, so you can add your own media to it.
If you are using the device on your lap, then the full QWERTY keyboard is the best to use, but if you are holding the device, then toggle the button next to the screen and you can use a keyboard built for thumbs. It is a simple but great idea.
The built in accelerometer means that you can also use the W100 vertically. This means that the Libretto can be used as an e-reader – although the LED backlight may hurt the eyes after prolonged use.
Combining both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity is a boon for those who want that always connected web experience, however.
In our short time with the Libretto W100 it was hard not to like the device, even if the reasoning for having it is still a bit of a mystery.
It is certainly unlike anything we have seen or used before and it is great to see Windows 7 used in such a way. But it will be difficult to tempt people away from either their netbooks or their tablets and on to this W100.
Toshiba will be hoping, though, that this safe touchscreen middle-ground is exactly what consumers want at the moment.
With an Intel U5400 processor and 2GB of RAM, there is no denying that there is a fair amount of power inside the W100 but you may be waiting a long time for the right touchscreen app to come along and unleash it.
The Toshiba Libretto W100 has UK release date of late summer, with pricing to be announced.