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CNET First Look
Toshiba libretto W105-L251This dual-touch-screen mini-laptop isn't ideal for mainstream use, but it certainly pushes the experimental boundaries between laptops, tablets, and portable media players.
I'm Dan Ackerman and we are here with the Toshiba Libretto W100. Now, this guy may look a little bit like a shrunken down netbook or maybe like what we used to call a UMPC. It's actually something else entirely. Instead of the traditional laptop display, keyboard, and touchpad, it is two separate 7-inch multitouch displays and you can set it up to, let's say, have a computer display on top and have a virtual onscreen keyboard on the bottom, much as you would on an iPad or another kind of slate tablet, or you can swap those parts around and have any combination of keyboards and touchpads and computer screens and windows swapped between these two screens. I'll show you a little bit of what I'm talking about. You hit this little button here on the side and you get a virtual onscreen keyboard here. It's got a little bit of haptic response to it so you can feel yourself typing and you can actually swap between several different types of keyboard, different keyboard layouts. And if you hit the same button twice, then you get an onscreen touchpad with left and right mouse buttons that lets you move the cursor around the screen or you can just tap on either screen to use the cursor, just as you would on any kind of touchscreen device. I'll give you a couple demonstrations on how you might use this. I could take one web browser window and send it up to the top screen and have my keyboard on the bottom window or I could take a whole separate web page and send that to the bottom window instead and have two web pages displayed at the same time or I could get rid of either one of those pages and just put the keyboard or the touchpad there instead. You can do the same thing with files. I can open up a folder with some files in it and then play a video file and have it play in the top window while I have the file folder open in the bottom to browse with, and for such a seemingly low-powered system, it actually plays 720p and even 1080p local WMV video files pretty well. Online streaming video on YouTube, we were able to play 480p video pretty well. Higher resolutions, kind of choppy and no Hulu, 480p was actually kind of choppy also. The two displays are connected as an extended desktop so I can take a window, for example, and grab it with my finger and actually slide it between the two displays like that and there are a row of permanently stationed control touch buttons along the bottom of the second screen for controlling things like volume and switching between screen orientations. If you turn the entire device on its side, it will switch screen orientations but it's kind of slow. It's got a very low power processor and it's running Windows 7 Home Premium, so besides basic web surfing and some productivity, you're really not gonna be able to do a heck of a lot on this system and all the different ways to navigate are clever and this system is actually fairly responsive but there's a big learning curve in kind of figuring out how to use the onscreen keyboard, how to use the onscreen touchpad, how to use all the little onscreen shortcuts that let you do things like taking this web page, clicking on the title bar and then swapping it down to the bottom half of the system. Even though the Libretto W700 outperform my expectations based on its low-end hardware and all the ambitious things it's trying to do, I do take seriously the concern about how actually productive this system is, how actually useful it is. You know, it's a cool executive toy. Toshiba is only releasing it as a limited edition so it's not something you're gonna be able to walk in a store anywhere and buy and it's more than a thousand dollars which really makes it more of a high tech novelty than an actual practical useful system. At the same time, as an engineering feat, you know, it's a lot more impressive than I expected it to be and the concept of being able to take windows and swapping in between the two screens, calling up your keyboard, calling up your touchpad, getting rid of both of them, once you get into the rhythm of using all these tools, it's actually a lot of fun. I'm Dan Ackerman and that is the Toshiba Libretto W100.