When Tablet PC Met Notebook: The Toshiba Detachable Display

Toshiba recently unveiled a prototype handheld device that marries the convenience of a tablet PC to the power of a notebook computer. The prototype is a 12.1-inch TFT LCD display with XGA resolution and detaches from a notebook “base station.” Users interact with the display with a stylus. It can communicate with the base station using a 802.11b wireless protocol.

Company representatives admit that the prototype needs some work. The screen is a bit big boned at a chunky 1.2 pounds and 0.7 inches thick. More importantly for users on the go, the device’s lithium ion battery lasts a mere hour away from the base station.

The company projects, however, that a future commercial version will remain at 12.1 inches but be 0.4 inches thick and weigh in at 10 to 14 ounces. Its battery life could top out at three to four hours. Such a laptop could be available to consumers in a couple years.

To broaden capabilities and options, Toshiba also is tinkering with the screens’ wireless capabilities, from 802.11g and 802.111n to ultrawideband (UWB) protocols. Future consumers might also be able to choose display sizes from 10 to 15 inches.

Toshiba even is considering blending PCs and laptops into a notebook detachable PC. If this concept isn’t radical enough, the firm may offer its detachable screen technology to other notebook manufacturers. Wilder things have happened.

By Henrik Stigell

Saturday, April 02, 2005