Always Innovating Tries Again with the Smart Book

Updated on 14 October 2015 by

I remember getting excited about the original Touchbook when information started coming through in mid 2009. The modular keyboard/tablet concept seemed sound and the ARM Cortex processor offered a chance to see how the new architecture could perform.

I remember too, the disappointment in the first weeks of deliveries as people started reporting issues that ran through hardware and software. A year later, many of these early owners are somewhat unhappy about the new product announcement. We cancelled our order before the credit card was booked, walked away and haven’t looked back until today.

That history makes us somewhat sceptical about the latest version of the open-source design from Always Innovating. The Smart Book [Registered trademark no less!] sticks with the modular approach and adds a MID (Mobile Internet Device.) The MID sits in the back of the device and contains the processing unit, an upgraded Ti DaVinci module with a Cortex A8 1Ghz CPU. The MID runs the core software and what you’ve got is a tablet-style frame, screen and connectivity (upgraded to capacitive touch) and an optional keyboard unit with power and additional connectors. If you don’t want the MID module, you can choose to buy the tablet component with its own motherboard in place of the removable MID. The image and video below shows the concept more clearly.

ai-smartbook

In addition to the hardware changes Always Innovating are offering a tri-OS system that can switch, instantly, between the classic Angstrom distro, Android Open Source  and Ubuntu. There’s even talk of Google Chrome being available. When the device ships by the end of the year, these OS’ will be updated to the latest versions. (10.10 Ubuntu, 2.2 Android.) With these operating systems being highly customised to work simultaneously, there’s a lot of interdependence so hacking the builds isn’t going to be simple.

Full Specifications:

  • ARM Texas Instruments cortex-A8 with video and 3D acceleration
  • Numonyx 512MB RAM + 256 MB NAND
  • 8GB microSD card
  • 1024×600 8.9" capacitive touchscreen
    (see the demo on the Touch Book page)
  • Extractable Mini Book
  • Detachable Bluetooth / USB keyboard
  • Stored-in 2GB USB keychain
  • Stored-in Dual Screen
  • Wifi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth class 2.1
  • Video output HDMI 720p
  • 4 available USB 2.0 (2 internal, 2 external)
  • 3-dimensional accelerometer
  • Speakers, micro and headphone I/O
  • Headset included
  • 3 batteries:
    • 12000mAh in the Keyboard
    • 6000mAh in the Tablet
    • 1500mAh in the Mini Book
  • outstanding battery life
  • FCC, CE, UL-certified, 5V, 3.5A power adapter
  • Bi-color silver/black case
  • Dark-red transparent back cover
  • Secured attachment system of tablet into keyboard
  • 9.7" x 7" x 1.3" for 3 lbs

Once again I find myself interested but this time I won’t be laying down my credit card and with the total cost at over $550, it’s an even bigger risk this time round. The tablet section can be had for $199.

More detailed information can be found over at Linux for Devices.

 

More from us. (No silly ads.)

3 Comments For This Post

  1. turn.self.off says:

    i would not mind getting that mid, if the resolution would be something bit more sane then 480×320…

  2. Yu says:

    While I don’t like the Minibook, I still like the rest of the concept – esspecially the mentioning of Ubuntu, which promises some notebook style productivity.

    However, considering their previous history, who’s gonna take the risk of ordering before there are any reviews?

    I’m a bit curious about the HDMI output mentioned though – it states “720p”. So this basically means, I can’t plug in my 1680×1050 screen (using a VGA/HDMI adapter) and drive it at full resolution? Not that important though (especially with current netbooks sporting this outdated GMA 3150), but at least interesting to know.

  3. Jordan says:

    As someone who owns an original touch book, may I say that the issue was more that the people who’ve been complaining were those who expected a finished product? I’ve been quite satisfied with mine for the most part, the main issue being that AI hasn’t always been the most open company with it’s community.

Search UMPCPortal

Recommended Reading

Top Ultra Mobile PCs

Viliv S5
4.8" Intel Atom (Silverthorne)
GPD Pocket 2
7.0" Intel Core m3-8100Y
Archos 9
9.0" Intel Atom Z510
GPD Win 2
6.0" Intel m3 7Y30
Acer Aspire E11 ES1
11.6" Intel Celeron N2840
HP Chromebook 11 G3
11.6" Intel Celeron N2830
Lenovo IdeaPad A10
10.1" ARM Cortex A9 (Dual-Core)
Microsoft Surface Go
10.0" Intel Pentium 4415Y
Samsung Galaxy Book 12
12.0" Intel Core i5 7200U
Lenovo ThinkPad P40
14.0" Intel Core i7 5500U