It's been a while since we saw a new netbook (approximately a day and a half, to be precise) so we'd started to worry that the tiny laptop gods had forsaken us. Petrified, we did a little rain dance before our netbook shrine and the diddytop deities blessed us with the litl Easel.
This device looks like no other netbook we've seen before. Its name comes from the fact its 12.1-inch, 1,280x800-pixel display can be flipped almost 180 degrees into what its makers refer to as Easel mode. This means it can be used to display photos and movies without the device taking up too much space.
Rather than equip the Easel with an expensive touchscreen, litl has furnished it with a wheel mounted on its hinge, which can be used to cycle between images, files and such -- a la Vista's Flip 3D feature. In addition, the Easel comes with an infrared remote control. This too features a wheel and functions in much the same way as the one on the hinge, though the lack of buttons concerns us somewhat.
The Easel's fairly unusual on the inside. Its 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z540 CPU, 1GB of 533MHz DDR2 RAM and Intel integrated graphics card are all fairly standard, but onboard storage is limited to a rather pathetic 2GB of onboard 'cache'. Those who want to hoard a large file collection on its custom Linux-flavoured litl OS, will have to resort to the Amazon S3 online storage service -- which has an unlimited 'pay as you stash' pricing structure.
Apparently the litl Easel is available right now direct from litl for around $700 (£415), though we've yet to see it in any shops. We'll update you with more info as we get it, but in the meantime, head over to our photo gallery for more pics and info.
The Easel's hinge folds right over, so the device forms a tipi or tent shape, reducing its footprint significantly. This should prove ideal for displaying photos or movies in an area with little space. Or just for showing off on the train.
The Easel can also be used in standard laptop orientation. Its custom operating system is a mobile/embedded distribution of Ubuntu provided by Canonical. The OS is said to use very few menus and provides you direct access to your content through thumbnails.