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Net Tablet: Always Innovating Touch Book

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 18 comments

When a new netbook hits the market, we usually stifle a yawn, heave a sigh and try to sound interested as we hammer out the same specs we’ve been printing for roughly a year and a half. The Touch Book from Always Innovating has just made my day.

In what’s probably the most impressive netbook to date, the Touch Book was unveiled at the DEMO conference today and is making headlines as a $299 tablet device that lays claim to a battery life of 10 to 15 hours. For $100 more, you can get a Touch Book that is a netbook and a tablet in one. While we’re not going to get excited about the ridiculously good battery life until someone can prove it, we’re pretty excited about the machine itself.

Full specs for the 8.9 inch netbook are as follows:
 9.4" x 7" x 1.4" for 2 lbs (with keyboard)

  • ARM Texas Instruments OMAP3 chip
  • 1024x600 display
  • Storage: 8GB micro SD card
  • Wifi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth
  • 3-dimensional accelerometer
  • Speakers, micro and headphone
  • 6 USB 2.0 (3 internal, 2 external, 1 mini)
  • 10h to 15 hours of battery life

Okay so now the 10 to 15 hour battery is starting to make a little more sense. While Intel’s Atom processor would take the battery life down considerably, we’re not sure how people will react to the fact that the Touch Book is ARM-powered. We’re also not sure how the general public will react to Always Innovating's own heavily customized OS. Rather than opting for XP, the company went ahead and developed its own operating system (Linux-based), which could hurt it when it comes to your average, everyday user who’s used to seeing Windows and nothing else, though supposedly Windows CE and even Android could be in the cards. The Touch Book is available for preorder from the Always Innovating wesbite now and is expected to ship this spring.

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  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , March 2, 2009 6:23 PM
    I was ready to buy one until I saw "ARM processor". Too bad, but incompatibility with standard computer software is a dealbreaker.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 2, 2009 8:32 PM
    ARM is indeed too slow to install XP on it!
    If it would work, Win98Se would be the heaviest OS I'd put on this machine.
    The 10 hours battery life could be true, since ARM processors are very low power processors, and like the Atom, after a job always fall back into some form of 'sleep-mode' to preserve battery.

    It's great looking device, despite me not liking the empty space under the screen, but the price is not justified for the single core ARM processor (OMAP3 = 600-1.000Mhz).
    Then again I don't know if the linux distribution supports multi-cores.
  • 1 Hide
    Master Exon , March 2, 2009 9:21 PM
    Oh for fucks sake!

    Can nobody make a tablet netbook without fucking something up? (lack of x86 support, FYI)
  • Display all 18 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    descendency , March 2, 2009 9:56 PM
    @Master Exon:
    You my friend are dead on. I love my Asus EEE PC 1000H (the first one) I got for 450$. It does about everything I need as a college student, but quite frankly the keyboard is so so and the display lacks 128 horizontal scan lines to make it desirable (the minimal amount they would need to increase the netbook size is ridiculous and it would probably add 100$ to the price. 1024x768 isn't too much to ask for).
  • 0 Hide
    Master Exon , March 2, 2009 10:14 PM
    Then I'm guessing you would love the Gigabyte tablet netbook. That is, if it were not a Europe only product. It has a 1280x800 version, which is the smallest resolution I'm willing to buy.
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , March 3, 2009 4:04 AM
    I would love this, if I could load a normal Linux distribution onto it.
    I'm still holding out for the Pandora, though.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 5, 2009 1:47 PM
    It's a shame that everyone is whining over non-x86 and no Windows XP. The x86 architecture is a dying breed, a dinosaur if you will. The future of computing and mobile computing especially is ARM, MIPS, PPC, Spurs Engine and Cell B/E based units. They are more efficient for power usage, smaller and infinitely more capable than the P4, Atom, i7, Opteron, etc... For high end servers, supercomputers, laptops, desktops you have the Power 5 and Power 6 as well as the Cell B/E and its' variants and future iterations. Mobile computing is fully covered with PPC and ARM based units such as the OMAP-3, MPC8610 and even the ARM based nVidia Tegra. It's truly a shame that people are so dead set against change when the change would be nothing but beneficial to not only mobile computing but computing in general.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 8, 2009 11:47 AM
    if I can use it as an advanced Ebook it[s exactly what I want it for
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 22, 2009 5:28 PM
    @Master Exon:
    The ARM technology is 100% intetional, therefore it can not be a lack.
    Who would even NEED x86 these days, x86 is old and inefficient, and for netbooks its simply stupid.
    I would argue that i still like my C2Q gaming computer, but then again, this is as far from gaming as you will ever get.
    If you dont need DX support, you dont need windows. It is the only real advantage a windows machine will give you, otherwise, its just an energy/calculation power/memory consumer.
    A good linux dist. beats windows on all aspects but gaming.

    This is a netbook i will buy as soon as it is available with the right keyboard layout.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 28, 2009 11:06 PM
    You people want your netbook to do everything - run Windows XP, play video games, etc.

    If you want a portable computer for doing those things you want a LAPTOP, not a NETBOOK.

    If you really wanted a netbook, all you would want to do with it is surf the web, read some e-mail, edit some documents, read some book, etc.

    Really, this netbook is exactly what the netbooks should have been in the first place.

    Nice work, AlwaysInnovating.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 7, 2009 1:25 PM
    "I'm still holding out for the Pandora, though."

    This is based on the same (beagle)board and processor.
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , June 7, 2009 3:08 PM
    Lennie"I'm still holding out for the Pandora, though."This is based on the same (beagle)board and processor.

    I know, but the Pandora has gaming controls built-in and seems to have a big, responsive community behind the development. Also, I'm not sure what A.I. means by their own custom OS, while the OP teams is going with Angstrom.
    I really could go either way, I think, but for now the Pandora looks more enticing to me.
  • 0 Hide
    windglider , June 26, 2009 3:51 AM
    Desperately looking for specs on this one. I need the two internal batteries' true capacity. The input voltage for external charging? Any specs on power requirements for this box? Many of us are looking for the ultimate "low power consuming" box. We can handle ANY OS. Forget the games, let's go for the basics first.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 19, 2009 1:53 PM
    @windglider: Here's the stats on the charger 5V 3.5A, Two internal batteries 6000 and 12000 mAh — it can be replaced with a screw driver.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 25, 2009 1:02 AM
    @ProDigit80 "... not liking the empty space under the screen"
    That's actually just an in-action shot of how it can be converted from a laptop-style keyboard/touchpad/screen into a standalone tablet. (Probably not the best picture to use without more context). They put two batteries in the keyboard/touchpad attachment for longer battery life, but all the CPU/board components are in the tablet half. It's a really novel concept!

    @windglider "Also, I'm not sure what A.I. means by their own custom OS, while the OP teams is going with Angstrom."
    According to their site, they are also sitting on top of OpenEmbedded, "on a variant of Angstrom" for their OS (see, they just have some extra controls and 3D effects added to take advantage of the tablet-style interface. I don't know to what extent they've added to OpenEmbedded/Angstrom, but they say they will be open sourcing their OS so you can see for yourself when that becomes available.
  • 0 Hide
    kevindamm , July 25, 2009 1:12 AM
    Whoops, that second response was meant for WheelsOfConfusion, not windglider. Please excuse the typo.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 9, 2009 6:19 PM
    I guess those who want the Pandora have no use for the Touchbook and vice versa though, just from the screen size...

    If I new the Touchbook was to give sufficient computation power to view and propably annotate pdf files at a reasonable speed (the handouts for my lectures are often badly optimized, with even text being represented by graphics... this takes a day and two seconds to swap pages and makes browsing through dokuments almost impossible even on atom machines, so they might break a low power processor all together) and supports a couple of video streaming sites (some of them not too popular, as they are small anime sites, though most of them use either megavideo, myspace video or youtube), and if it had a bigger primary storage, it would be perfect for me.

    A VGA Port wouldn't have been bad either sometimes (might be too weak for running sensible presentations anyway though, so it wouldn't be relevant after all, but as these were run on
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 14, 2009 9:02 PM
    always innovating - say that they are shipping - but I'm calling BS
    I haven't seen anybody on the web that has their hands one
    I pre-ordered back in early March, the same day as they announced, and I've filled out their pre-order survey, but I haven't heard a peep out of them.
    Is this company going to release a product, or just collect credit card information