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Hands-on with the Toshiba Libretto W100 (photos)

We've seen plenty of buzz for the high-concept Toshiba Libretto W100, since it was first announced in June 2010. This dual-touch-screen minilaptop is a limited-release showpiece designed by Toshiba to celebrate the company's 25th anniversary in the mobile computing business, and certainly pushes the experimental boundaries between laptops, tablets, and portable media players.

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Dan Ackerman
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This dual-touch-screen minilaptop is a limited -release showpiece designed by Toshiba to celebrate the company's 25th anniversary in the mobile computing business.
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Despite the far-out thinking behind it, and the underpowered components, the Libretto W100 in practice worked far better than we expected in some areas, including certain kinds of media playback and general Web surfing.
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Looking a little like a Nintendo DS, the Libretto has two 7-inch multitouch displays, with the second taking the place of the traditional keyboard one would expect to find in this kind of clamshell design.
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The onscreen keyboard has several different available layouts (which are all pretty similar, except for a split-key design), and the screen provides subtle haptic feedback with each virtual-key press.
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By tapping a button on the side of the chassis, a virtual keyboard (similar to what you'd find on an iPhone or iPad) pops up to fill the bottom screen. Tap the same button twice and you get a virtual onscreen touch pad instead.
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One of the most important navigational shortcuts is called the Easy Menu Utility. Behind this generic name is an onscreen overlay that appears when the title bar of a window is tapped. A nine-square grid overlays the display, and gives you large tap-friendly buttons for maximizing and minimizing the active window, toggling the window to the other display, or even stretching the active window to cover both displays.
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Pressing the button on the right side of the bottom display switches between the standard Windows OS desktop and a series of Toshiba's proprietary Bulletin Board screens, which allow you to arrange photos and notes on a touch-friendly surface. It looks snazzy, but we can't say it's particularly useful, especially as it (like almost any proprietary app) has its own learning curve.
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Ports and connectivity are predictably limited, but no more so than we've seen on other UMPC systems. There's a single USB port (handy for plugging in an external mouse in a pinch) and a micro-SD slot, and a basic Web cam sits next to the top screen. There's no Ethernet jack, but you get 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

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