May 29, 2009 While it's not the first transforming touchscreen netbook we've encountered, the Touch Book from Always Innovating is definitely a first: it runs on a power saving 600MHz ARM processor that promises a battery life of up to 15 hours while making it a heat and noise free system, and also features a detachable keyboard that transforms it from a standard looking 8.9-inch netbook to a standalone tablet.

This netbook sports 256MB of RAM, a replaceable 8GB microSD card for storage and two batteries – one for each side – that sum up to five hours of autonomy in tablet mode and up to 15 with the keyboard attached. It has a 1024x600px 8.9" screen that can display 720p videos and render OpenGL 3D graphics. Standard 802.11b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth connectivity are also included in the offering.

Most striking is the Touch Book's flexibility: its six USB 2.0 ports – three of which internal and can be used to add permanent features such as HSDPA or GPS capability – allow for countless configuration options. Weighing just under two pounds, the tablet side is magnetic and can act as an hi-tech fridge magnet, or take advantage of the built-in 3-axis accelerometer to play iPhone games. Multi-touch capabilities were however deemed superfluous and are not included.

When the keyboard is attached the Touch Book runs on a standard Linux-based system, but in tablet mode it runs on a custom-made, touch-based interface. Both hardware and software are open source and can therefore be modified at will. This netbook can also run mobile operating systems such as Android or Windows CE.

Always Innovating will launch the Touch Book in the US in a just few weeks and start shipping it internationally shortly thereafter. Available in gray and red, it will be priced at USD$299 for the tablet alone, and at USD$399 with the keyboard included.

Dario Borghino

View gallery - 11 images