The Libretto W105 notebook, or W100 when it finally lands here, looks like something form the future, and appropriately so – Toshiba created it to celebrate its “25 years of laptop innovation.”
The main attraction is the dual seven-inch capacitive touch screens. There’s no physical keyboard, and a built-in accelerometer lets you use the computer both vertically and horizontally. But is the W105 really innovative? Or is it another gimmick? T3's US correspondent Jeppe Christensen found out
When booting it up you get a familiar experience, thanks to Windows 7, a 1.2 GHz Intel Pentium processor and two gigs of memory. Everything runs off a fast 62-gigabyte solid state drive.
Toshiba Libretto W105: Build and design
Toshiba squeezed all this technology into a very small frame, the size of two stacked DVD covers. It’s pretty impressive, though we doubt it’ll win any awards for best looks. While the top is encased in metal, the bottom is all plastic and at 1.2 inches thick it feels kind of chubby.
The bottom screen turns into a virtual keyboard when you need it (which you do a lot) and it actually works pretty well. Both screens are fast and responsive, and haptic feedback lets you know you’ve made contact with the surface.
The screens are glossy. Very glossy! They look great when you’re working inside, but once you’re out in direct sunlight it’s almost impossible to see what’s happening on the screen. How are you supposed to use a virtual keyboard if you can’t see it?
Toshiba Libretto W105: Performance
That aside, our main concern with Libretto W105 is Windows 7, which simply doesn’t work very well with touch screens – especially when the resolution is high and the physical screen size is relatively small.
We struggled to navigate around Windows, often clicking the wrong shortcuts and icons. Toshiba includes a smart piece of software that makes it easier to maximize and minimize programs and move them between the two screens, but it feels like a small bandage on a gaping wound. Everyday tasks turn into a real chore and using the programme just feels like too much of a hassle.
Libretto W105 does have potential, but the problem is that Toshiba simply hasn’t done enough to customize Windows 7. It's screaming out for a skin or add any smartly designed software to innovate and bring a new, clever user experience.
The lower screen can be used with Toshiba’s Bulletin Board, which lets you create virtual messages and to-do lists. You can manipulate the content with multi-touch commands, but again it’s just too much of a hassle to fiddle around with it. You can also access the Toshiba Board, which provides information about the computer and the pre-installed software; however, this is of limited usefulness.
Most of the time you simply use the second screen as a virtual keyboard. You could have a webpage on the first screen, and your email and instant messages on the second one, but then you still need to bring up the virtual keyboard when you want to type in a URL or compose a message. Doing this, you quickly realize why most laptops do have a physical keyboard – it just makes sense.
Libretto W105 could work quite well for an e-book reader, but very few titles are optimized to be viewed on the dual screens and, again, you’d struggle to see it in bright sunlight.
And then there’s battery life, which is, in short, very disappointing. We managed to get roughly two and a half hours of use on a full charge. That’s just not enough when a typical laptop now provides you with five to eight hours of juice, and an iPad will last a full 10 hours.
It also seems that Libretto W105 struggles to keep the components working at a comfortable temperature. The fans kick in after just a few minutes, spinning at high speeds, which means, this thing isn’t exactly quiet.
This review is based on a US version of the laptop, so we're not going to add our usual star rating at the moment. While we applaud the innovation, all told, the Libretto W105 is close to a usability nightmare. Windows 7 feels slightly underpowered running on the Pentium processor, the poor battery life is a crime for such a mobile product, and the constant spinning fans and super glossy screens will quickly make your blood boil. If this doesn’t turn you off, you can find this curious gadget online for about £920.