TouchBook Netbook/UMPC/Tablet runs on OMAP 3

Posted on 30 May 2009 by

I had an update from TI’s ‘Mobile Mover’ Seshu Madhavapeddy on Thursday evening and came away with a very strong impression that Ti want to conquer the whole ‘Ring of FIE’ with their OMAP 3 platform. PMPs were mentioned (Archos.) Smartphones were mentioned (Samsung Omnia HD, Palm Pre) and so were tablets and netbooks.  Seshu also outlined how ARM-based netbooks would differ from the netbooks we know today buy talking about targeted markets and highlighting the Always Innovating TouchBook. He asked me if I’d heard of it. Bells rang in my head and as I scrambled to Google search and saw the first image, I remembered that I really should have brought this to the top of my to-do list sooner. It was announced at the same time as I was in Texas for SXSW and I never got round to checking it out in detail. I’m glad Seshu highlighted it because it looks and sounds great. We’ve put a UMPCPortal order in for one because, like the SmartDevices Q7, there’s going to be a lot of questions about it.

You’ll remember the device from the photos.

tablet_standalone_w separated_w reversed_wback_w

More photo’s in the gallery.

The specs are interesting too. It’s based on an OMAP 3 platform which is the same as is being used in the Open Pandora project and the next Nokia Tablet  along with the aforementioned Pre and Omnia. It will run a Linux distribution (The Ã…ngström Distribution) with a Fennec browser and the hardware includes a two-part chassis. The screen contains the components and can operate standalone. The keyboard is a simple add-on which means you can carry the two together as a netbook and then separate them for ebook reading and browsing. The keyboard also contains an extended battery. You can buy the tablet for $299 or the complete unit for $399 putting it right in the netbook space.

It’s an interesting concept with a smooth design that fits well in the ultra mobile PC segment and we look forward to receiving our order and getting down to testing it out. No release data is available yet but according to their website, Always Innovating are ‘targeting to ship the first units early this summer.’ According to an email from the founder, Grégoire Gentil, Always Innovating should be releasing more information in June.

We’re tracking information in the portal under a new Touchbook product page.

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27 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    New article: TouchBook Netbook/UMPC/Tablet runs on OMAP 3

  2. CGI says:

    Yeah, when I heard/started reading on this device I found it interesting. Glad to see we’ve got a spot for it and anxious to hear more.

  3. teh.sean says:

    Running Angstrom is not my cup of tea, but based on the hardware I guess there’s not a lot of alternatives. I’ve had heartburn from that distro before. But, perhaps if some company is behind it they’ll at least have the sense to pick a stable branch.

  4. Fabbe says:

    Here’s to hoping it’ll come with an active digitizer, and a decent battery life (OMAP 3 after all, so not to far fetched). If so, it’d be the perfect student companion. Note taking during lectures and offline reading of course material.

  5. Fabbe says:

    aah, AI’s website says 10-15hrs with both batteries (there’s one embedded in the keyboard) and 3-5 with only the main tablet unit. But it wont be an active digitizer. No surprise really, but It’d have been my dream machine if so.

    I fear it’ll be pretty useless for note taking since it seems geared towards finger use only. Too bad.

  6. squirrel says:

    Always Innovating is the reason why i didn’t buy SmartQ7.
    In June the hardware will be done, but soft will be still in beta.
    There is a video on Youtube where they say that you would be able to install any OS on it you want, so i believe Chippy will be our guide to the world of Linux: what distro, how to install, where to get applications for it, etc. :-)

  7. squirrel says:

    Because of the software ARM-based netbooks for a long time will be less convenient like the Atom-based ones, but the form-factor! Is it possible to make such netbook on Atom – 450gm+9″+Win will be a breakthrough!

  8. johnkzin says:

    With Ubuntu and Mer both targeting this device (since it’s a beagleboard motherboard, it’ll pick up support for any beableboard OS … which happens to include not just Mer, but also the pre-release/developer edition of Maemo5), I think common software for Ubuntu/Mer/Maemo on ARM wont be difficult to come by.

    It’s also supposed to be able to run Android, and Android apps.

    I think they also mention support for WinCE or WinMO, so the app store for that platform should be there as well.

    It doesn’t sound like it’s a huge stretch to expect a decent application ecosystem for this thing, no matter which OS flavor you pick (well, except maybe for their default one, which I think is also a variant of Linux).

  9. Øyvind S. says:

    Great design and the Angstrom distro looked good on the pictures i saw on a link on the touchbook homepage.
    Looking forward to see a test on speed.

  10. Øyvind S. says:

    Great design and the Angstrom distro looked good on the pictures i saw(on a link on the touchbook homepage).
    Looking forward to see a test on speed.

  11. Cherimoya says:

    I preordered a Touchbook at the end of April because I liked the design and the battery life. I’ve since got a T1028M so I’m debating as whether to cancel it or not.

    I must admit this response from them to one of my questions has put me off

    “Thank you for your interest in the Touch Book.

    The Touch Book will not have a built-in mic. We’re still deciding whether or not to include a webcam. “

  12. TuxMeister says:

    Hey guys, I just shot an e-mail to the guys over at Always Innovating mainly to request some pictures of the ports and also some info about the crazy idea of sticking internal USB ports (within the case so you don’t have stuff hanging over the sides if you want to have it permanently plugged it). I also asked about how big would those USB spaces would be ’cause it would be great to be able to plug in a 3G modem and leave it connected on the go. I’ll post here as soon as I get anything back from them. I think it’s a great device and can’t wait to see it demoed on video in all it’s beauty.

  13. Fabbe says:

    There’s a demo out already. Showing the internal USB port in all of its glory.

    I’m not loving the piece of scotch tape used to keep the unit together (even though that’s admittedly a pre-production unit).

  14. TuxMeister says:

    Oh my, oh my, oh my… this is soooooooo cooooool. Love the magnetic back idea, I can finally show my mom how to look for tasty recipes on the net. Why didn’t anybody come up with this before? hehe… SmartQ7, unless you can make my coffee in the morning, this is what I’m getting. So glad I didn’t get it compulsively, still an option though.

  15. Chippy says:

    This is pretty much what I was talking about when I wrote that the Q7 sets the benchmark for pricing and shows that a next-gen tablet isn’t far away. I estimated 12 months and $50 in parts. Looks like I underestimated the timescale somewhat as we could see this in July/August.
    With Mer and Ubuntu getting together, the ‘smartbooks’ now on the horizon, there’s going to be a ot of focus on ARM.I pray that the software layer looks and performs well. Adobe flash is a big hole in that software stack but I suspect we’ll get announcements from Computex.

  16. squirrel says:

    Archos managed to have Adobe Flash 9 on its 5/5g model (in full-screen mode), 1. how? 2. is flash9 enough for majority of flash video?

  17. JohnD says:

    Я нетерпением ожидаем этого были пересмотрены, когда он освобожден.

  18. JohnD says:

    I look forward to this being reviewed when it was released. I remember a few months ago when it was announced and I was curious about the unit. I like that the LCD panel can be removed and used in tablet mode.

  19. Web Based Apps says:

    TouchBook Netbook/UMPC/Tablet runs on OMAP 3 | UMPCPortal – The …

  20. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    @carmelo42 Good ebookreader, pdf reader for indoors only. Can’t handle encrypted or DRM ebooks. Check out too.

  21. Britman says:

    Got to love the design and concept, but honestly it won’t come in at the $399 make that $499-$599. When was the last time any company brought a product out that was within their projected price plan.

    However I’d probably still consider buying one :)

  22. Britman says:

    Having just watched that video, I WILL BE buying one! :)

  23. squirrel says:

    The screen fixture is not aesthetic and there might be sharp edges)))

  24. TuxMeister says:

    Guys, here’s what I got back from Always Innovating: “We’re going to release a bunch more information about the Touch Book (including pictures) in the next few weeks. So…check back soon!

    There won’t be any interference problems with a USB 3G modem, but only some modems will be supported – we’ll be releasing a list of supported models when we launch. The space available for devices connected to the internal USB ports is roughly 10-11mm thick, 70mm long, and 50mm wide.”

  25. Texas Instruments says:

    @chippy, great catching up with you last week! Will keep you posted on
    those sweet OMAP 3 devices hitting store shelves

  26. Ruff says:

    New to forum, liked the posts a lot about the innovations, keep it up.


  27. TuxMeister says:

    Welcome, Ruff. Hope to see you around. We’re all expecting exciting things to hapen these days.

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