Toshiba’s Libretto U100 – Return of the Mini Laptop

The first Libretto was released back in 1997, and had a form factor as compact as a VHS video cassette. Yet it was a fully functioning notebook computer, complete with a built in hard disk, tiny keyboard and a windows 95 operating system. Now Toshiba is re-launching its subnotebook, the Libretto U100. Weighing 2.16 pounds with a 60GB hard drive, the libretto promises portability without compromising computing.

New miniaturizing technology makes this fusion possible. Toshiba designed the Libretto’s motherboard nearly one-third smaller. The manufacturers even got the 802.11b/g PCI wireless card into the act, shrinking it by half. This leaves room for a full-sized 1.20GHz Intel Pentium M processor (2MB L2 cache and 400MHz FSB) and 512MB DD 333MHZ RAM. And there’s still space enough for almost every port under the sun – 2 USBs, an IEEE-1394, 10/100 Ethernet, LAN and modem ports, a docking connector, and an RGB mini connector.

For such a small package, the Libretto U100 offers some big-time new technologies, as well. Toshiba fitted it with its Hard Disk Drive protection system.

Using a 3D accelerometer, this system can perceive sudden accelerations, such as falls, bounces, or any other unnatural maneuvers for an inanimate object. If such an acceleration occurs, the hard drive goes into its figurative shell, parking the hard drive head until the coast is clear. For user identity protection, the mini laptop also features fingerprint authentication technology.

Even with all of these attractions, Toshiba’s U100 still has to face the major question mark that hangs over all tiny notebooks: its display. Toshiba answers with an unprecedented 7.2-inch widescreen LCD display with WXGA (1280×768) native resolution. They implemented another mini-laptop milestone, an LED backlight that illuminates the LCD further.

Toshiba brought back the Libretto U100 in part to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first laptop. Consumers may be the ones with a reason to celebrate.

By Matthew Brodsky

Sunday, May 01, 2005