Always Innovating generated a lot of buzz when it introduced the Touch Book last year. The device is a computer that can be used in either slate or notebook form, but unlike older convertible tablets you don’t simply twist the screen and fold it down over the keyboard. Instead you can actually remove the slate portion of the device from the keyboard and carry it with you, leaving the keyboard (and an extra battery) behind.
Early reviewers didn’t seem that impressed with the Touch Book, and Always Innovating hasn’t exactly become a household name over the last 12 months. But that hasn’t stopped the company from launching a new version of the Touch Book… called the Always Innovating Smart Book.
The new model looks a lot like the original at first glance, but inside the case there’s a removable mobile device which you can use as a handset for making VoIP phone calls, or possibly for surfing the web or running other apps. There are also compartments which hide a USB to HDMI adapter, and a slot for storing a USB dongle.
The Smart Book features an ARM Cortex-A8 based processor and ships with a custom user interface, but can also run Ubuntu Linux, Google Chrome, or Google Android.
The device has an 8.9 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel capacitive touchscreen display and comes with 512MB of RAM, 256MB of NAND flash storage and an 8G microSD card. There’s also a 2GB USB key which can be stored in the keyboard compartment. The Smart Book features 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1, and can handle 720p HD video output. There are 4 USB ports including 2 inside the case, and the tablet has an accelerometer.
There are three separate batteries, including a 12000mAh battery in the keyboard, a 6000mAh battery in the tablet, and a 1500mAh battery in the “Mini Book” which is the mobile handset.
Put together, the whole system measures 9.7″ x 7″ x 1.3″ and weighs 3 pounds.
Always Innovating is taking pre-orders for the whole kit for $549, or you can order individual components such as the Mini Book, the tablet, or any combination with prices starting at $199.
You can check out a video demo after the break — although it’s worth noting that nothing is actually turned on in the demo, so all you get to see is a sort of magic trick where the CEO keeps pulling smaller computers out of bigger ones.
Update: Always Innovating founder Grégoire Gentil wrote in to make it clear that while the company will be selling the Smart Book directly to consumers, the company’s main goal is to sell its designs and expertise to OEMs. He also points out that schematics and source code are both available on the company’s web site.