MSI is showing off a netbook prototype with twin 10 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel touchscreen displays and no physical keyboard. But you can bring up an on-screen keyboard and tap away. What’s interesting is that the keyboard vibrates as you type. It doesn’t quite feel like using a physical keyboard, but it does give you a sense that your fingers have actually touched something. If you find the vibration disconcerting, you can adjust the vibrate level up or down.

The demo unit I tested out this afternoon is an early prototype, and the touchscreen wasn’t quite as responsive as I (or the friendly MSI rep) would have liked. I found it a little difficult, for instance, to drag items from one screen to the other, or to make the keyboard larger or smaller. But it’s likely that these kinks could be worked out before MSI would bring the device to market.

The company is gauging interest in the design at CES and is reaching out to partners before deciding whether to actually go into mass production. But the hardware and software is pretty much ready to go.

There was also a 7 inch dummy unit at the MSI booth, but it was non-functional.

Interestingly, Asus is also showing a dual screen prototype at its booth this year. But it’s a non-functioning concept device inspired by the We-PC project. There are no plans to actually go into mass production on this device yet.

You can check out a short video of the MSI prototype, as well as more photos after the break.

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19 replies on “Hands on with MSI’s dual touchscreen netbook prototype”

  1. I don’t really like the idea of typing on a touch screen. It won’t give me the feedback I want (it just vibrates a little), and I can’t put all 10 fingers on the screen without typing. They should figure out something for that. But I guess that’s not really possible.
    I imagine that this netbook would be Windows 7 only, which already makes it a no-go for me. I don’t like the dual screen and stuff that much that I would go with Windows 7.

  2. When I see how comfortable my kids are with the dual screens on their Nintendo DSi’s I think that dual-screen interfaces can work well for grownups too.

  3. It’s foolish to think that they standard keyboard layout is the direction we should be going with devices like this. It’s a relic from a forgotten past, with keys laid out so it would *slow the typist down* to prevent a typewriter’s hammers from jamming.

    New tech, new input/output devices. It’s the only way we’ll make significant advances in the field of mobile computing.

  4. The idea of using a second screen occasionally as a keyboard is brilliant, IMHO.

    If they could get that down, I’d certainly be interested.

  5. Interesting… seems that folks took up the format of the OLPC 2.0 design? Only where is the version with Pixel Qi screen? Funky device (funky is the key word),

    Brad – have you seen any devices with Pixel Qi screen? Their site says this:
    “We will have a showing just for the press in a suite in the Venetian 7-9AM Friday Morning January 8th. Please RSVP”

    So – are you going?

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