Tech Smart: Adapting to the situation at hand

March 21, 2012
Noah Levine
Issue 9

Over the past few years, using computers seems to have become a much more hands-on experience. From desktops to laptops to tablets and smartphones, touchscreen interfaces are popping up everywhere and offering us innovative and intuitive new ways to control our machines. With tapping, dragging, swiping, pinching and typing on virtual keyboards all quickly becoming familiar, the door is now open for novel approaches to computer design such as Toshiba’s laptop like no other, the libretto W100. Concept in action

Over the past few years, using computers seems to have become a much more hands-on experience. From desktops to laptops to tablets and smartphones, touchscreen interfaces are popping up everywhere and offering us innovative and intuitive new ways to control our machines.

With tapping, dragging, swiping, pinching and typing on virtual keyboards all quickly becoming familiar, the door is now open for novel approaches to computer design such as Toshiba’s laptop like no other, the libretto W100.

Concept in action

Originally designed as a concept computer, the libretto provides a new twist on the laptop or netbook by replacing the keyboard with a second screen, both of which act as touch interfaces for controlling the machine.

t’s not uncommon for tech companies to show off their wildest ideas, but Toshiba decided the libretto deserved an actual-albeit limited-release to see how people will put the unique form factor to use in the wild.

Two is better than one

So while supplies last, this twin-screened machine is available to adventurous computer users with large budgets.

For those willing to shell out some cash for something new, libretto comes packed with a full version of Windows® 7 powered by a 1.2GHz Intel® Pentium® processor with 2 GBs of memory, a 62 GB Solid State hard drive, a webcam and the expected Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Of course, the real stars are the pair of multi-touch displays measuring 7 inches diagonally. The clamshell design means the screens can be positioned like a laptop with one acting as a virtual keyboard, or all the way open like a tablet with the screens working independently or in tandem.

Changing as you go

The paired screens make working on the libretto a completely malleable experience. A built-in accelerometer turns and orients the screens depending on how the computer is being held, and with a weight of less than 2 pounds, it can be comfortably used in a variety of ways.

Six virtual keyboard configurations are available at the touch of a button, so even when opened like a laptop, the libretto offers plenty of flexibility in how it can be used. The screen set up makes working on multiple documents a natural fit, and watching a movie on one screen while surfing the web on the other is no problem.

Turn the libretto upright, and suddenly it becomes an e-reader that feels more like a book than a slate. Of course when the screens are opened flat and used together, the libretto can be a tablet computer. Because it folds up in a clamshell fashion, it’s designed to protect those handy screens when not in use.

Where it all leads

There really is nothing else exactly like the libretto available in the computing world today, and at the asking price this is probably not the right computer for casual users. Still, this is innovation in action.

The libretto is a computer that transforms to match its users’ transforming needs, and it may be leading the way to increasingly adaptable and versatile machines that become just what is needed for the task at hand before switching to something else as priorities change.