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02 March 2009, 16:03

Touch Book: Linux based touch screen device announced

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The Touch Book, with detachable screen
Zoom The Touch Book, with detachable screen
Always Innovating have announced a new ARM based touch screen/tablet computer, which they plan to start shipping the US in May/June with a price starting at $299. The Touch Book will come with the Touch Book OS, based on the Angström Linux distribution. The company says the Touch Book is not limited to their OS and that it's possible to "install many operating systems on the device, including Google Android, Ubuntu, Angstrom, and Windows CE, though we would not recommend the latter."

The Touch Book motherboard is based on the Beagle Board and the schematics for it have been released under the GPL by Always Innovating. With an 8.9" diagonal 1024 by 600 resolution touch screen and an ability to play up to 720p video content, the Touch Book is being sold as a companion to, rather than a replacement for, a user's main machine.

The Touch Book sports a number of unique features in a small device. The keyboard is detachable, allowing the device to used as just a tablet, and the back of the tablet is magnetic, letting a user stick the device to a fridge or other metallic surface. The device weighs less than two pounds, but offers a ten to fifteen hour battery life. However, there is a catch; the two parts of the Touch Book, the tablet and the keyboard, have their own separate batteries. The tablet alone has 3 to 5 hours battery life, with the keyboard battery extending that to the ten to fifteen hours.

Another interesting design feature is the inclusion of internal USB ports. These allow readily available 3G dongles, memory sticks and other USB devices to be fitted within the unit, avoiding the problem of accidental disconnections. The quiet and cool design doesn't need a cooling fan due to its use of the low power OMAP3 ARM processor from Texas Instruments.

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