Today at the VIA Technology Forum in Taipei, people get the first glimpse of VIA's ultra mobile PC reference design, the NanoBook. Though the term "reference design" might suggest "concept product," this design is actually being picked up. In Europe, Packard Bell will ship it, and VIA will announce its US partner later this month. The ultra-sweet selling points: 1.87-lb weight, up to 5 hours in battery life, and a projected price tag of $600.
The little brushed-steel UMPC has a 7-inch screen with 840x480 resolution and a "touch panel", but it's designed not to be a tablet but to be a little laptop, with a full keyboard. It has two speakers, plus mic in and audio out. There's a 4-in-1 card reader (my guess is that it's all the little cards, and no CF), 802.11g and Bluetooth. If you like metric measurements, it's 230mm x 171mm x 29.4mm in size, and 850g in weight.
The whole thing is powered by an ultra low voltage 1.2GHz VIA C7-M processor (more nerdy details on the chipset here). Naturally, it uses integrated graphics. It will support up to 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and a hard drive of either 30GB or 60GB. The deal is that it will happily support Windows XP, but it won't do a full blown Vista. You would need Vista Basic, and VIA says the option will cost you some of that battery life. It will also assorted flavors of Linux.
A quirky (or perhaps just plain off-key) touch are the MobilityPLUS Modules—little USB devices intended to slip into that funny slot to the right of the screen. Among the modules being discussed for production are a Bluetooth VOIP phone, a GPS unit, a 3G/CDMA adapter, and a world clock. (World clock? Like, I thought Windows XP could handle that all by itself.)
Brushed steel isn't the only finish. As you can see from the spec sheet below, colors are an option. Whether the company selling the NanoBook chooses to order different colors is, of course, unknown. What is known, sadly, is that the name NanoBook will not stick. Will Packard Bell and the US VIA partner come up with another name cute enough to match this computer? I sincerely doubt it.
Product Page [VIA]