As I mentioned yesterday, Sascha from Eee PC News.de has been spending some quality time with a prototype VIA Openbook. The Openbook is a reference design VIA has published that will let laptop makers create low-cost, ultraportable laptops using VIA processors.

Eventually Openbook-based machines will probably use the upcoming VIA Nano CPU, but the prototype Sascha’s been playing with has a 1.6GHz VIA C7-M CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 30GB hard drive. In other words, it’s a lot like the HP Mini-Note, but with a smaller hard drive. It’s running Windows Vista Home Basic, but seems rather zippy nonetheless, with a 1 minute boot time. In the video above, you can see Sascha launch a few programs and play some video. He doesn’t go online, so you can’t see how it performs with web video.

One feature that’s rather unusual is that the Openbook has two webcams, one on the inside of the unit facing you, the other on the outside, presumably facing whatever you’re looking at. This is just a reference design, so there’s no guarantee that the OEM versions will have this configuration.

Sascha also confirms that the keyboard and touchpad are rahter small, but there’s a little room in the case to expand either of these components. So perhaps we’ll see hardware makers customize the Openbook platform and release units with larger keyboards or touchpads.

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