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New Netbook Offers Detachable Tablet 209

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fun-new-toys dept.
Engadget is reporting that a new "Touch Book" being previewed at DEMO '09 in California by the company "Always Innovating" promises a new take on mobile computing devices. Touting 10 to 15 hours of battery life, this ARM-powered netbook weighs less than two pounds, but the true magic comes with the detachable screen that can function as a completely stand-alone touchscreen tablet. The machine is currently running a Linux OS with a touchable 3D UI, the entire screen is magnetic for mounting on a metal surface, and the whole package is being projected for less than $300.
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New Netbook Offers Detachable Tablet

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  • ARM Netbook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hax0r_this (1073148) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:05PM (#27042343)
    Am I the only one more interested in the ARM part than the screen part?
    • by earls (1367951) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:11PM (#27042427)
      I thought the LEGS were pretty cool myself.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)

      Lots of ARM netbooks [google.com] out there. It's an obvious market (because of ARM's low power requirements), and a big reason so many netbooks run Linux rather than Windows. Though I suspect serious ARM zealots wish they ran RISC OS!

      I'm more intrigued by the use of Linux in a touch screen device. I have a tablet that runs Windows Vista solely because it's the only x86 OS with serious handwriting recognition. I thoroughly despise Vista (nobody despises Vista as much as somebody who's stuck with it) and I'd look very ha

      • Re:ARM Netbook (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hax0r_this (1073148) on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:45PM (#27043555)
        Did you read your own link? Every one of those results is about some product that hasn't been released yet. There are no mainstream ARM netbooks available today.
        • by fm6 (162816) on Monday March 02, 2009 @04:18PM (#27043899) Homepage Journal

          Right you are. I've been hearing about ARM netbooks so much, I just assumed that they were already in the wild. I guess this is like those blockbuster movie ads on TV that play over and over until you're sick of them, and then, just when you think you've been seeing them forever, they start saying "Opens in two weeks!"

      • I have a tablet that runs Windows Vista solely because it's the only x86 OS with serious handwriting recognition. I thoroughly despise Vista (nobody despises Vista as much as somebody who's stuck with it) and I'd look very hard at any alternative that seriously exploits the tablet model.

        OK. You need to pull your head out of the Microsoft hole at least once every 10 years to see what's really going on out there.

        OS X runs on x86. Apple's Inkwell handwriting technology has been around and beloved since the days of Newton (i.e. Apple). No... not perfect. Perhaps Vista's recognition is a little better at the moment... but who cares, OS X pummels Vista in to a quivering mass of junk that it is... and Inkwell IS serious handwriting recognition technology (though takes some tuning).

        Apple Inkwell [apple.com]

        s [skinyourscreen.com]

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by loftyhauser (1149267)
          And where is the Apple Tablet PC on which I can use Inkwell?
          • Well, sort of here [axiotron.com], but we're still waiting.
            • by fm6 (162816)

              I have to admit I find that beast pretty tempting, despite the issues I mentioned when responding to catmistake/pudge's mindless rant. It's worth noting that the Macmod provides its own handwriting recognition software. I guess they don't trust Inkwell any more than I do.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fm6 (162816)

          OK. You need to pull your head out of the Microsoft hole at least once every 10 years to see what's really going on out there.

          And you need to stop assuming that everybody else lives under a rock, like you. I use multiple OSs. I don't currently use MacOS day-to-day, I do track developments for that platform. Rather more, I'm guessing than you track non-Mac platforms.

          OS X runs on x86.

          Small detail: Apple does not make a tablet. There are third-party hackup of Apple laptops, and theoretically I could ignore the legalities and install MacOS on my Motion tablet (now there's a non-trivial project!). But these are both evil kludges that are not supported

          • Fair enough. Enjoy that peerless Vista support. Actually... if I had a dime for every time you exercised the Vista support you obviously believe has value... well, obviously, I'd be broke. But I know what you mean: its good to have support even if you never use it.

            • by fm6 (162816)

              Pudge, is that you? Let's see, extreme rudeness and contempt for differing opinions, check. Stereotyping of opposing views, check. Mac fanboy, check. Ignoring opposing arguments when he has no answer for them, check.

              And who but an editor would create a sock puppet just to flame me?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by ksd1337 (1029386)

            And you need to stop assuming that everybody else lives under a rock, like you.

            This is Slashdot. He doesn't live under a rock, he lives in his mom's basement.

      • Have you looked into CellWriter? It's a very good Linux hand-writing recognition program.

        There's not really many ARM netbooks on the market. There's a 266$ one at DealExtreme, and a 169$ (I think it's MIPS) netbook at some other site (geek.com?). Otherwise it's clone after clone of the Intel Atom reference design with a few changes here and there (ours is blue!).

        I personally can't wait for the i.MX515 netbook by Pegatron, though. 199$? Freaking sweet.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Cellwriter is not a handwriting recognition program, it's a character recognition program. If I have to input one character at a time, I might as well use an on-screen keyboard, which is faster. But both are slower than being able to write whole words at once.

      • by xenocide2 (231786)

        One of the things I do is spend a little freetime watching over tablet support in Ubuntu (if you like I can catalog recent improvements). I agree with you that Vista is currently a best of breed online handwriting recognition. In some sense I respect Microsoft's efforts here. Handwriting recognition takes a lot of time to design, analyze, and tune; very academic in nature. They've gone the extra mile and integrated the technology into something deployed.

        One of the challenge Linux faces is moving academic re

        • by daver00 (1336845)

          Upfront disclaimer: I am a Vista user, a satisfied one, who is more than impressed with the handwriting recognition, to top it off I also own and use a genuine Tablet PC. Oh and I have a couple of Ubuntu machines too (for cred).

          One thing I have read about Vistas handwriting recognition is that they put as much, if not more emphasis on stroke order and direction than the actual shape of the output. The other thing is that it learns your personal handwriting, and does this very well. It is by an extremely wid

          • by xenocide2 (231786)

            I dual boot vista and ubuntu+1. I don't know the specifics of Vista's software, but I do know that 1) it's trainable and 2) it uses neural nets. In a sense, they use software to slice up a sentence you wrote into characters to reduce the problem to what CellWriter solves. I've noticed that their system works better in cursive, where they pretty much know where words begin and end.

            Cellwriter also considers stroke order, as well as a number of factors like average distance from trained glyphs. This doesn't r

    • by mellon (7048)

      Yes. I am excited about the ARM part, but for me the best part is that you can get it without the keyboard. Meaning that I can just bring my bluetooth keyboard along and use that, with no cable between.

      • What is in the keyboard? extra port connectors? a dvd players? Obviously it's not the batteries or anything actually required to run.

        but it has to be heavy enough not to tip over. Since the batteries are in the screen, the base must be filled with lead?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Locutus (9039)

      I've been wondering where the ARM laptops have been since the OLPC came out using the Geode. For this segment, the ARM chips have the advantage in power/performance/price/cooling

      From what I've heard, this year we will see many ARM based devices premier. Have you seen any of the youtube videos showing what the low shipping volume $150 BeagleBoard can do? And for the power, it has a decent 3D video subsystem too.

      So this thing is WAY cool in my book. Now when can I get a couple?

      LoB

    • by Hugonz (20064)

      Nah, me too. It was about time someone would come out with an ARM netbook.

    • Long answer: Hell, yes.

  • by Steauengeglase (512315) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:05PM (#27042345)

    So it should be something like $450 to $600?

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:05PM (#27042351) Journal
    Not shipping yet, but it looks like it's heavily based on the BeagleBoard. That would mean it had a 600MHz OMAP3530, which is quite reasonable. It's close to twice the price that's been announced for similar systems built around a 1GHz i.MX515 (both chips have an ARM Cortex A8 CPU core, a DSP and an OpenGL ES 2.0-compatible GPU core). It looks like it will ship after the Pandora, which has a similar form factor and is built around the same chip.

    Not particularly newsworthy in itself, but it's nice to see that a lot of ARM-based computers are starting to hit the market.

    • Do these other systems you're talking about have touch screens? Do you have a link?

  • I'm more interested in the $300 price tag, though still doesn't do much good without a set of specs to go with it.

    However, I do like the idea of it being magnetic mountable to a refrigerator.
    • As long as it has a whiteboard or equilivalent program...
    • I haven't been interested in any of the existing netbooks, because I can't stand typing on the small keyboards. But I would be interested in an inexpensive tablet, if the linux build they provided was customized to work well as a tablet. I hope they have a configuration option that includes a normal dock in place of the keyboard.

  • Add a GPS, and maybe XM-WX weather, and this would make an AWESOME Electronic Flight Bag!

  • by mhall119 (1035984) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:22PM (#27042553) Homepage Journal

    From the looks of it, I think it's more accurate to say this comes with a removable keyboard, rather than a removable screen.

    All the ports are on the screen half, and it's twice as thick as the keyboard half.

    • All the ports are on the screen half, and it's twice as thick as the keyboard half.

      That could be unfortunate: if the screen is heavier than the keyboard, it would very easily tip over when being used in a normal laptop configuration. Maybe they put ballast under the spacebar?

    • by pimpimpim (811140)
      I see that as a good thing, netbooks end up being quite thick, just look at the new Classmate, and that's not very good for ergonomics. At least my dell mini has a bit of a tilt, lowering the angle my hands have to make when typing, but an ultra-flat keyboard like in this construction could be even better. I do expect some difference between reality, and what is now presented as a render and estimated price. Still, the idea is so cool, I'd buy it if it manages to stay below 500 euro.
  • Getting closer... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RapmasterT (787426) on Monday March 02, 2009 @02:29PM (#27042621)
    I for one have been waiting...and waiting for this rather obvious extension of the data device metaphor. Basically, an Ipod touch that has about 4-5x the screen size would be exactly what I (and by extension everyone else) want. Shall I go out on a limb and coin the term "net tablet" right now?
    • I think that "nettab" has a better ring to it, but otherwise I'm right there with you.
    • by leoc (4746)

      Basically, an Ipod touch that has about 4-5x the screen size would be exactly what I (and by extension everyone else) want.

      Hell no. I own an iPod Touch 16GB and if this thing were shipped with the iPod's closed, buggy and brain-dead operating system, I'd avoid it like the plague. The only feature I would want to share with the iPod is the multi-touch support.

    • by IANAAC (692242) on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:46PM (#27043565)

      Shall I go out on a limb and coin the term "net tablet" right now?

      Add "inter" to net tablet, and you get a Nokia N800/N810.

    • Shall I go out on a limb and coin the term "net tablet" right now?

      Unavailable Domains Reason
      nettab.com domain name not available
      nettablet.com domain name not available

  • I accidentally your entire hard drive, is this bad?

    • This thing uses flash memory, not a hard drive.

  • When IBM and HP came out with clamshell handhelds, we didn't call them "netbooks". Who came up with this new terminology?

  • "10-12 hours battery life" = static display, guessing 3-4 hours battery life if actually browsing the web or watching a video.

    "whole package for $300" = $529.95 at launch, settling down to $450 or so when the smoke clears.

    "Spring of this year" = limited quantities shipping in August 2009, hey, isn't that spring in New Zealand?
  • EMR platform? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ironica (124657) <.gro.kcodnoob. .ta. .lexip.> on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:04PM (#27043059) Journal

    Now I really want to find EMR solutions that will run on Linux. This would be a *perfect* piece of hardware for a clinic setting... if the whole EMR industry wasn't so infatuated with MS. (The reps from NextGen seem to think that MySQL is a dodgy, fly-by-night operation next to their MSSQL server.)

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      (The reps from NextGen seem to think that MySQL is a dodgy, fly-by-night operation next to their MSSQL server.)

      Having used both, I also think this. MySQL's crappy client tools and crummy internationalization support kind of give me that impression.

  • Much better summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by bbasgen (165297) on Monday March 02, 2009 @03:25PM (#27043299) Homepage
    Gizmodo has a much better overview with a video of the device in action, detailed specs, etc. http://i.gizmodo.com/5162584/always-innovating-touch-book-is-a-part+netbook-part+tablet-open-source-frankenstein?skyline=true&s=x [gizmodo.com]
  • non-Intel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by simplerThanPossible (1056682) on Monday March 02, 2009 @04:42PM (#27044209)

    ARM's OMAP 3 is the news: it's a non-Intel netbook.

    Maybe not today, but this is the way the Intel monopoly ends: a smaller, simpler, cheaper, more power-efficient chip that is customized for what is needed today, not weighed down by decades of legacy decisions.

    A barrier is applications for the platform: I'm sure Windows doesn't run on it; and they'll be few binary linux applications. But I think the web is now mature enough, so web apps + multimedia.

    Then again, Intel is an incredible competitor. Nothing stops them from disrupting themselves. They surely have internal non-legacy projects just like this. Several. (Andy Grove's blurb is on the cover of "The Innovator's Dilemma").

    • by wytcld (179112)

      The Sharp Zaurus ARM clamshells have been running all the standard Linux apps happily for years. The tricks to cross-compiling for ARM are easily mastered.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      A barrier is applications for the platform: I'm sure Windows doesn't run on it; and they'll be few binary linux applications. But I think the web is now mature enough, so web apps + multimedia.

      No, most linux open source apps can be easily ported over. Such is the power of open source. This flexibility in many areas is why MS will be done in by Linux and friends one day.

      Windows CE does run on Arm processor. However, I'm not sure if it's worth it. It's really not windows. And most of the killer apps on t

    • by mvdw (613057)

      ARM's OMAP 3 is the news: it's a non-Intel netbook.

      A barrier is applications for the platform: I'm sure Windows doesn't run on it; and they'll be few binary linux applications. But I think the web is now mature enough, so web apps + multimedia.

      You're almost right, except for the lack of applications bit. Ubuntu is right at this moment creating an ARM distribution, with the full repository available. Yes, that's right, the full desktop ubuntu repository will be available for ARM. It was announced at this year's Linux.conf.au conference by David Mandala, from Canonical.

  • OK, I've got this keyboard and a display and, and, I can take them apart and use one without the other. I might even be able to use a keyboard that wasn't the one that came with the original...

    Now this seems hauntingly familiar .... Where have I seen a form factor that offers this kind of mix and match modularity?

    All joking aside, what matters is your data and your tools for manipulating the data. I think it makes sense to give your data and at least some of the software a distinct physical module, lik

  • So it will be 1500 when it hits the streets.

  • Provided this device doesn't ship with something like a 200MHz CPU and 128Mb RAM/storage, this will be a real dream device. Pretty much exactly what I've been waiting for since the MobilePro 900 came out years ago. It's a logical extension of both the netbook and these small portables.

    Basically, it's a tablet with an integrated/novel dock that is likewise portable with the tablet in an easy fashion which adds portability. It's an interesting (and somewhat obvious, in hindsight) innovation.

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Monday March 02, 2009 @06:02PM (#27045159) Homepage Journal

    I am all for anything that gets more diversity in the software landscape, and ARM based netbooks will do that. I just hope that drives the various entities - both companies like Canonical and individual Free Software package creators - to fix the damn cross-compilation issue [slashdot.org].

    I have spend the past couple of WEEKS trying to build a proper set of binutils, GCC (C and C++), and glibc to do cross-compiles to the Beagleboard: It is absolutely INSANE that I should have to build ON THE BEAGLEBOARD when I have a nice multicore machine here on my desktop, just because too many developers don't understand that HOSTCC does NOT always equal CC (that the computer compiling the code is not the same as the computer that will be running the code, to make it a bit clearer to those who have not done cross-compilation).

    I've fought with OpenEmbedded, with no success - trying to build anything non-trivial just fails, and I've gotten tired of posting to the OE groups and getting the collective equivalent of an ass-scratching "Duh, I dunno, it works for me." or "Try pulling the latest (broken) code from the version control system, because we cannot be bothered to actually RELEASE anything."

    And while the OMAP3 has some neat hardware (OpenGL ES 2.0 accelerator, DSP, etc.) actually GETTING THE CODE FROM TI TO COMPILE is a slog-fest itself.

    Seriously: I *hope* things like this will help drive the clean-up of the code, but until Somebody Big (Canonical, Red Hat, IBM) gets on the issue of identifying the projects that don't cross-compile gracefully (I'M LOOKING AT YOU GLIBC) and helping the maintainers fix that, it is going to be difficult for the various software sources to make their apps available under That Which Is Not X86.

    • by mvdw (613057)

      Seriously: I *hope* things like this will help drive the clean-up of the code, but until Somebody Big (Canonical, Red Hat, IBM) gets on the issue of identifying the projects that don't cross-compile gracefully (I'M LOOKING AT YOU GLIBC) and helping the maintainers fix that, it is going to be difficult for the various software sources to make their apps available under That Which Is Not X86.

      Yeah, I hear you. I've fought on and off with both openembedded and pokylinux (an OE derivative), and can't even get a basic toolchain built on my bog-standard ubuntu 8.10 desktop, let alone cross-compiling anything.

      It should get better, though, when Ubuntu ARM Edition is released. This was announced at LCA 2009 by David Mandala from Canonical. He basically said they had a large proportion of the desktop repository already building, and were working on the rest. IIRC he said they hoped to have it pretty muc

    • Eh? I'm cross-compiling glibc for ppc. OK, it's not nice, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting.

      If you have your cross-compiler built properly, it should be fairly straightforward.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      Cross compilation is hard to get into. I cross compile for the PPC (not PowerPC yet) architecture daily from a PC, using buildroot, busybox and uclibc. Once to toolchain is defined properly, things go rather smoothly.
  • Ever since the first EEE netbook was announced I have been certain that it was only a matter of time before someone would make a go of it with a nice ARM chip. There are so many advantages to ARM in a portable, low-cost device -- for instance, the power consumption that Intel can only dream about, as well as higher system integration and small die-sizes which mean lower production costs.

    The Cortex-A8 (and soon, A-9 in OMAP 4) cores are a different beast than previous ARM processors -- a comparison in Inte

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