It's a tablet! It's a PC! It's the Toshiba Libretto W100, a "next-gen, ultra-mobile concept PC," per Toshiba, with two 7-inch multi-touch displays that fold together like a book and can work in concert or independently.
Introducing the 1.8-pound device June 21, the computer-maker said it's planning an initially limited release of the Libretto later this summer, and as users interact with the brand-new form factor, it will incorporate their feedback going forward.
"We design our products around the way people actually want to use them, so getting this concept PC out into the hands of early technology adopters will allow us to gather invaluable feedback that we can filter into future product developments," Carl Pinto, Toshiba America's vice president of product development, said in a statement.
Pinto added, "This concept PC sets the pace for Toshiba's continued commitment of innovation, demonstrating what's possible in the next generation of ultra-mobile PCs."
The Libretto runs Microsoft's Windows 7 Home Premium and a 1.2GHz Intel Pentium U5400 processor and includes 2GB of DDR3 (double-data rate) memory and a 62GB solid-state drive. It measures 7.95 by 4.84 by 1.2 inches, and connectivity options include 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR5. Meant for more than just Web surfing, the Libretto can interact with Microsoft Office apps and launch Skype video calling - did we mention the 1-megapixel HD Webcam with facial recognition? There are also six virtual keyboard modes with haptic technology-which offers a sort of tactile feedback that makes typing feel more authentic - as well as a virtual touchpad.
Also included are several applications meant to ease interaction with the Libretto. These include File Browser, for simplified access to folders and applications; Toshiba's Bulletin Board, a central place users can customize with photos, videos, links and shortcuts to their favorite applications; and Toshiba ReelTime, which offers a visual history of recently opened documents, videos, photos and more that users can flick through with a finger.
A 3D accelerometer means the Libretto can be used in portrait or landscape views, and additional features include a USB 2.0 port, a microSD slot and an 8-cell battery - though Toshiba offered no guesses on battery life with each charge.
The company did, however-in what seemed a not-subtle nod to the Apple iPad-emphasize that the Libretto features multitasking, and that its clamshell design, which sports a brushed metallic finish, ensures that its screens are protected from scratches and cracking during transport.
Just as the Apple iPad, with its 9.7-inch multitouch display redefined and reinvigorated the tablet market, Toshiba will face a number of other PC-world competitors as it looks to compete in the tablet space. For example, in May Dell introduced the Streak, a tablet with a 5-inch display that runs the Android operating system. Hewlett-Packard, which in April announced plans to purchase Palm, is expected to release tablets running Microsoft and the Palm-created webOS platform. And Sony, among others, is reported to be closely watching the market and considering its next steps.
Research firm IDC expects tablet sales to rise from 7.6 million in 2010 to more than 46 million in 2014. As with currently skyrocketing smartphone sales, such growth will be largely depend on the development of complementary applications, IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian wrote in a May 20 report.
"The availability of apps unique to media tablets and that differentiate the experience of using one compared with a PC or smartphone will be crucial for driving consumer demand," wrote Kevorkian.
The Toshiba Libretto W100 will be available later this summer through the Toshiba Web site and its select retailers, though no pricing information has been offered.