After a three-year absence, Toshiba is reviving its Libretto-brand compact laptop computer with a new machine that will go on sale next month, the company said Wednesday.
The Libretto U100, like its predecessors, is both smaller, lighter, and more compact than other computers in Toshiba's range. It measures 21 cm by 16.5 cm by about 3 cm and weighs 999 grams with the standard battery. Compared to the business-focused Dynabook SS models that Toshiba also announced Wednesday, the Libretto is shorter and narrower but about a centimeter thicker. It's also about 300 grams lighter than the Dynabook.
Of course, there's a price to pay for compactness. The keypitch, which is a measurement of the distance from the center of one key to the center of its neighbor, is a cramped 14 millimeters that could make touch-typing difficult, and there's also no built-in optical drive. But this could be of little concern to prospective Libretto buyers, who have in the past been willing to put up with such issues in return for the machine's small size.
The new Libretto is based on an Intel Pentium M processor running at 1.1GHz in Japanese models and 1.2GHz in U.S. models and has a 7.2-inch screen. This makes it much more similar in appearance and specification to the Libretto machines sold since the range debuted in April 1996 until the Libretto FF100V went on sale in October 1999. Those machines were all Intel-based and used either 6.1-inch or 7.1-inch screens. The Libretto L-series models that followed in 2001 and 2002 were a departure from the previous formula and included Transmeta Corp. processors and larger 10-inch screens.
The screen on the new model offers WXGA (1,280 pixel by 768 pixel) resolution. It has 256MB of memory in Japanese models and 512MB in U.S. models and a 60GB hard-disk drive. Built-in networking features include an analog modem, Fast Ethernet port, IEEE802.11b/g wireless LAN, and Bluetooth Version 2.0. The computer also has a fingerprint scanner. This works with the operating system to replace the password when logging on to Windows and can also be used with an encryption utility to control access to files.
The new Libretto is also available with a DVD dock. The drive supports reading and writing of most CD and DVD formats and the computer comes with a "Quick Play" feature that allows users to play DVDs or listen to CDs without booting-up Windows.
The Libretto will be launched in Japan in early May. A version with the DVD dock and Microsoft's Office software will cost about ¥240,000 ($2,243) while a version without those two features will cost about ¥180,000. In the U.S. the computer is available now and costs $1,999 for a version with Windows XP Professional but no Office or DVD dock.
The Dynabook SS (Portege R200 in the U.S.) models are based on slightly faster Pentium M processors that run at 1.2GHz, have an XGA-resolution (1,024 pixels by 768 pixels) 12.1-inch screen, 256MB of memory in Japanese models and 512MB in U.S. models, and a 60GB hard-disk drive. They come with wireless LAN and Bluetooth networking and will be available in Japan later this month. A version with the Office suite will cost about ¥240,000 and a version without will cost about ¥230,000. It's available in the U.S. now for $2,099 and ships with Windows XP Professional but not Office.