The Toshiba Libretto W105 is a dual screen device that you can think of as a touchscreen tablet with a virtual keyboard, or a mini-laptop without a physical keyboard. Either way, it’s one of the most unusual computer products to actually make it to market this year. With prices starting at $1100, Toshiba doesn’t expect to sell a lot of these little devices, but if it proves popular, perhaps we could see a price drop or see this type of technology incorporated into other devices.

Laptop Magazine has published a detailed review of the Libretto W105, and if you’re at all curious about whether a dual touchscreen device like this can function effectively as either a laptop or a tablet — or you know, as that thing you surf the web, check your email, and write on, you should check out the full review.

Here’s the short version: It’s thin, light, and sexy as all get out with excellent build quality. Windows 7, on the other hand, isn’t all that touch-friendly, but Toshiba has made some enhancements including a virtual touchpad and 6 different virtual keyboards. Laptop wasn’t that impressed with the built in eBook reader application, but had good results with the Amazon Kindle for PC app. The reviewer was also satisfied with the overall performance. The 2:45 battery life, on the other hand, is pretty subpar — especially for a $1100 device.

You can find more details and photos at Laptop Magazine.

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4 replies on “Toshiba Libretto W105 reviewed”

  1. Windows 7 works very very well with any type of touch screen. Unfortunately to many reviewers seem incapable or unwilling to make simple tweaks to the the WIn 7 UI or setup touch correctly. Took me less than an hour to get my Viliv x70 perfectly tweaked for touch, handwriting & speech recognition. Mostly use my fingers but I do use the stylus (handwriting recognition) when I need to enter lots of data quickly.

    Does not take a rocket scientist to tweak the size of icons, scroll bars (if needed), tool bars etc. I can’t stand reading Win7 tablet reviews annymore because of this.

    I may be off topic but that’ my 2 cents.

  2. I agree with everything about the review except for the comments about Windows 7, which I find absolutely horrifying. It’s unclear if the review reflects a lack of subject knowledge or just overall trustworthiness. For example, it implies that “touch” equates to “finger”, which is a little absurd. Touch implies exactly what it sounds like, the ability to sense touch. This usually happens with a digitizer, named because it digitizes a physical location. Consumer markets tend to focus on passive digitizers, where touch is either resistive or capacitive, either of which can use a stylus-implement for greater accuracy and readability. Professional markets are historically focused on active digitizers or, more recently, hybrid ones (passive and active together). These are absolutely touchscreens too. They sense touch using digitizers. The corollary to this review’s sweeping claims about Windows 7 is that Windows 7 is bad for everything touch: active digitizers, hybrid digitizers, passive digitizers with a stylus, and passive digitizer with fingers. Wow. This just isn’t true. For example, I’ve never heard anybody, even people at that site, complain about pen or stylus input in Windows 7. Did the review actually mean “finger-unfriendly”, in which case the typical visitor isn’t supposed to “read” the review but rather try to “outsmart” the review in order to figure out what was meant rather than said? Or, did the review really mean “touch-unfriendly”, in which case it stands to reason that all prior or subsequent reviews will never have anything better to say about ANY form of touch on Windows 7? (Check previous reviews, this isn’t true.)

    Here’s what’s particularly horrifying. There’s an implied lack of understanding about screen size/resolution/PPI and lack of familiarity about general touchscreen computing and desktop PPI in particular. The review is NOT UNIQUE in failing this. This is a wide-spread issue and a legitimate computing dilemma. I’ve even seen Brad intuitively respond to the issue in his reviews.

    Screen size and resolution tend to be fixed at the hardware level (and thus so does PPI). DPI is a software setting that allows one to go in one of two directions: higher or lower. If you were to set your Operating System’s DPI to exactly your screen’s PPI, then an inch worth of information in the computer will be displayed on your screen as exactly one inch long. If you lower the DPI below this native PPI, then an inch worth of information will be formed using fewer “dots per inch”. This means that it will be displayed as physically shorter than before, which also means that there are more pixels left over with which to display more objects on screen. If you set your DPI Higher than this native PPI then an inch worth of information will be displayed using more “dots per inch”. This means that it will be displayed as physically longer, which also means that there are fewer pixels left over. Thus, you will be able to display fewer objects on screen, although the objects that you do display will appear clearer and better formed.

    With a traditional desktop operating system, we tend to want lower DPIs (unless the native PPI is insanely high, like with the Sony Vaio P). With a traditional device, we have off screen pointing devices, and we are only using the screen as a display and not an input device. With this low DPI, we can fit more windows on the screen, more text in each window, and display more icons. This is all very convenient and desirable in this productivity setting.

    With a pure slate, we tend to want a high DPI. We may not be concerned about fitting more windows on a screen or more text in a window. In fact, we might want to work with fewer windows because it’s a pure slate. We might prefer larger text over more text because of the way we are holding and using the device. Most importantly, in the case of a FINGER TOUCH screen, we’re going to need bigger icons. In fact, we really want all of the on-screen graphical elements that we’re interacting with to be larger because we’re going to have to use our inaccurate, vision occluding fingers on them.

    Any device which appends finger touch to a traditional laptop/notebook/netbook has a problem. We need two different DPIs available quickly. We need a low DPI for when we’re doing traditional input, and we need a higher DPI to ease finger input. Otherwise, you have to trade-off desktop productivity just to accommodate the times that you’ll be using your finger, or finger-friendliness just to get the most out of your desktop experience. The non-astute reader (not that anybody is reading this) might think that this dilemma partially proves the claims of the review. On the contrary, this is only a finger problem and not the “touch” problem that this review asserts. Moreover, this is not an issue at all for pure slate tablet PCs because there is no traditional input that needs to be accommodated. Moreover, this is only an issue for screens that have a high PPI relative to the operating system’s default PPI. This is exactly the problem that the W105 has. The hardware PPI is high because the screen size is relatively small. The default DPI of Windows (96) is relatively low compared to the W105’s PPI (170). Boosting DPI will always give a better “tablet” experience, but the W105 was already in need of a boost because of the hardware’s PPI. It was double disadvantaged.

    Of course, I’m probably wrong about all of this. I don’t review tablets for a living. I just use them.

    1. You’re absolutely right, except —

      This isn’t a review of a traditional tablet with an active digitizer and stylus. It’s a review of a mini-laptop/tablet with twin capacitive touchscreens. These are the sort of touchscreens that facilitate finger input and which work very nicely on smartphones and Apple iDevices. But I have yet to use a Windows tablet which works well with either a capacitive or a resistive display — which are the types of touchscreens that most PC makers are putting in touchscreen devices that run $700 or less (the much higher price tag of the W105 notwithstanding).

      While you do have an overall point that the problem isn’t necessarily the OS, or touch, or the DPI, PPI, or anything else per se… what I think the reviewer is finding is something I’ve noticed as well, which is that Windows tablets with capacitive or resistive displays are rather difficult to use.

      I know he and I have both been guilty of over-generalizing and saying something more along the lines of “Windows isn’t well suited to touch input,” but I think that’s just shorthand for “Windows isn’t well suited to *this type* of touch input. And since I tend not to cover high priced computers on this site, I don’t really ever expect to get a demo unit with an active digitizer to use.

      On the other hand, it really would be nice if Microsoft figured out how to make it easier to adjust settings in Windows so that it’s just as easy to navigate with a fingertip as it is with a mouse.

      1. That this is a review of a device with twin capacitive touchscreens is irrelevant. I’ve used capacitive only slates in Windows 7 myself. The “twin” part is a red-herring. I think for the sake of the “Windows 7 is bad at touch” discussion, we should just focus our attention on the upper panel. It doesn’t gain us anything but unnecessary complexity to do otherwise.

        Perhaps I made too much of my “active digitizer” claims. It wasn’t a comment about Windows 7. It was a comment about the quality of the review and a general failure to use terminology carefully and accurately (like the way most people are now using “tablet”). Windows 7 is obviously fantastic with an active digitizer. The point was that that’s also a valid form of touchscreen, and the review seemed eager to throw the baby out with the bath water. Yes, active digitizer are currently only available on premium quality tablets with prices to match (unless you’re on Ebay). However, I would be SHOCKED if you’re not covering lots and lots of active digitizer devices within 12 months. In terms of proper tablet PCs, companies like Wacom and N-trig have basically been supplying the ESSENTIAL technology for very niche devices. Suddenly, a very similar type of device is on the version of exploding into the next big tech trend. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. It’s hard for me to believe that they’re not going to try with everything they have to insert their technologies into these “tablets” and make them tablets. It may not be exactly the same as the high-end stuff, but you’re going to see a affordable mobile slate with a budget hybrid digitizer on the market soon. Windows 7 just has too much to offer, and not going after the consumer tablet market is leaving too much money on the table for these companies. It’s worth noting that these types of technologies tend to appear on x86 hardware, and that portion of the “tablet” market isn’t really up and running yet from a consumer-grade standpoint.

        I do appreciate what you’re saying about your experience with Windows 7 and finger touch. It leaves me wondering what DPI and PPI you were looking at. If you’re talking about 10 inch WSVGA then that’s about 117.5 PPI and Windows defaults to 96 DPI. In other words, the actual size of what’s being displayed is only 80% of the conceptual size. If that’s the type of arena we’re in, then I’m willing to suspend judgment on your experience until you go back and do yourself the favor of upping the DPI to match the PPI. Otherwise, you might be blaming Windows 7 for user or vendor error.

        I try to stay as far away from Microsoft, and all proprietary, software as possible, but I’ve never had a problem with capacitive or resistive digitizers and Windows 7. On a pure slate without any off-screen pointing device, if you’re not using touch, then you’re not using the computer, and even in this setting, I don’t have a problem. I may be biased. I don’t have a “smartphone” or phone with a touchscreen. I never have. I don’t want one either. Whereas other people may be biased towards the belief that when a finger touches a screen there’s going to be a lot of point-contact and swiping/gliding, I’m biased towards the belief that a finger is going to do pressing and dragging. I know I’m outside “the norm” (pretending that you guys are normal, but even my fellow citizens who I hand my tablets off to around town seem to come away thinking what I think: Windows 7 is finger-friendly. I guess I just must be amazing at setting up my device. Beyond that, I can only shrug. Perhaps, “touch-unfriendly” is just a fancy way of saying “not phone-like”. That’s obviously true, assuming we’re looking for truth, but I just don’t know what else to say or think. I accept the disagreement.

        Maybe it would inform the conversation if we moved beyond descriptions like “touch-unfriendly” and “rather difficult to use”, and started identifying detailing when/what/where/how the user experience fails you when your finger interfaces with Windows 7. Given my own experiences (including observing others), I’m struggling to believe that we’re talking about clicking icons, navigating menus, general dragging and dropping, and managing open program windows. I certainly don’t think either one of us wants to or even can invalid the experiences of the other, but I guess it would be re-assuring to know what we’re actually talking about. Right now I’m hearing the complaint but not the diagnosis.

        I agree that Microsoft needs to address this DPI vs. PPI issue. It’s non-trivial. I know that the Vaio P addresses a related problem (due to its relatively high PPI display) by offering a “zoom” button which effectively simulates a lower resolution panel. The upside is that this makes everything on the screen suddenly bigger because many actual pixels are being consolidated into each pixel of the virtual low resolution panel. The downside is that you don’t gain the additional clarity that you would have with a proper DPI switch. In fact, you get some pretty bad block artifacts from the aliasing. Ironically, this isn’t just Microsoft’s problem, it’s their opportunity. Apple doesn’t have to worry about this because they don’t support devices that are this feature rich. If Microsoft can make it easier to leverage these features with some kind of rapid DPI scaling, then they’d have a pretty big win on their hands. Still, I have to go back and say that the finger touch experience in Windows 7 isn’t bad, but it would be nice to more easily revert back to a lower DPI when you’re using the desktop with more traditional input devices.

        Finally, we’re having a good conversation here, but we’re obviously the only two people in the world who know or care about this topic of conversation because nobody else is joining in. More to the point, while this is a great conversation and you did a commendable job of confronting my off-topic remarks, my on topic ones still stand. This review reflects a very low level of either knowing or caring about being careful and correct. That concerns me because it pretends to be informative (which is not to say that there is not also the presence of information). Anybody who knows nothing about tablet computing can read it and come away thinking that a proper tablet PC with an active digitizer isn’t going to be any good on Windows 7 simply because of the lack of care in using basic terms. That’s wrong, especially because people use and trust reviews as part of deciding what to purchase. I don’t really care if it reflects negligence or an agenda, it’s still wrong. Moreover, my best guess is that types of comments that I’m making about PPI and DPI HAVE NEVER ENTERED THE BRAINS OF MOST REVIEWERS. Otherwise, I’d expect something like “I noticed a problem with Windows 7 and touch. I’m aware of what might underlie it. I tried a solution based on that knowledge. It did or didn’t work to some extent.” At the very least, something like this would leave me feeling much more satisfied about the quality of what I’m reading and, more importantly, the quality of what other people are using as educational materials. Otherwise, this feels like complaining that a car is uncomfortable to drive without giving any indication that you actually tried to mitigate your perceived issues by doing things like adjusting the adjustable seat. My best guess is, this seat was never adjusted, and more time and effort was given to being uncomfortable and complaining than anything else. However, how would I ever no? It simply isn’t addressed one way or another in what I read, and that’s the problem.

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