Always Innovating have an interesting netbook that can be detached from it’s keyboard . It provides features which are a close match for the tablet PC with optional keyboard that I advocated in my post about the Lenovo U1 . Such devices are deemed to be in a new category of computer called the Smartbook – which is regarded as being like a cross between a Netbook and a smart-phone .
The AI system is always idling, so there is no boot up required – like a mobile phone it will respond immediately to input. It has no fans which will be a good improvement over the EeePC – my EeePC 701 is annoyingly loud at times. It is designed to replace Netbooks not desktops, the screen resolution of 1024*600 is reasonable by Netbook standards but is really poor by desktop standards, it also lacks a VGA port.
The company has a stated policy of being friendly to free software, so hopefully a community of developers will form around it. Of course this partly depends on how they develop their new systems. If they make new systems vastly incompatible with older systems then it will fracture the community and make things difficult for everyone. There have been problems in this regard in the past with ARM as the instruction set has changed.
One interesting thing about the Always Innovating “Touch Book” is that you can order the keyboard and extra battery part separately from the main computer/display unit. This means that if you break one part you can replace it without replacing the entire system (handy if you break the keyboard (the cheaper part). It’s interesting to note that their web site offers to sell me as many as 558 complete systems, as many as 896 tablets, or as many as 992 keyboards. So according to the web site anyone who wanted to buy more than 558 systems would have to order the tablets separately from the keyboards. This wouldn’t be a bad thing as the complete unit costs $399, the tablet costs $299, and the keyboard costs $99. So ordering the keyboard and tablet separately would save $1 per unit! Of course anyone who really wanted to buy 600 computers wouldn’t use a web site, they would call the sales people and get a discount that is significantly greater than $1 per unit. But these limits for the web sales seem strange enough to be worthy of comment.
It’s an interesting system, it would be handy for reading documents when on the move and for light sysadmin work (basic login to server and restart crashed daemon stuff). If I was after a new system I would probably buy one.