At this point Toshiba’s dualscreen Libretto W105 shouldn’t need much of an introduction — or at least after glancing at the picture above we figure it won’t. It looks like a laptop straight out of the future. And it kind of is. It’s the sort of clamshell gadget we’ve seen rendered and rendered for years, but that’s never made it to market… until now that is. In celebration of Toshiba’s 25 years in the laptop business, the company’s gotten bolder than ever, and it hasn’t just created a gadget with two seven-inch capacitive touchscreens, but it’s actually brought it to market. Sure, it’s only available for a very limited run, and at a lofty $1,100, only die-hard gadget geeks are bound to fork over the cash. That said, it’s still one of the most intriguing devices we’ve seen all year, and that’s saying something. And it’s even more compelling when you consider that packs the parts of a 12- or 13-inch ultraportable, including an Intel Pentium processor, 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD and also runs Windows 7. But that’s exactly what’s wrong with the Libretto — it looks like the future, but it’s held back by modern day laptop parts and software. We’ve spent quite some time with the W105 — we typed half of this review on the bottom screen! — so you’ll want to hit the break to find out just what we’re talking about.
As we said in our preview, it’s almost like Toshiba wanted to disguise the incredible coolness of the Libretto by hiding the two screens in an extremely understated black chassis. The book-shaped device is symmetrical, but the top and bottom lid differ slightly in design. The former is covered in a grayish brushed metal and distinguished by a chrome Libretto logo. There’s also a speaker strip along the bottom — but don’t be misled by it, we’re not even sure dogs could hear Eminem’s “Like the Way You Lie” when we cranked the volume all the way up. The top cover is also adorned with two vent areas — remember those as we’ll be coming back to them later. On the flip side, the bottom cover is made of a tough plastic and stores the battery as well as has two little rubber feet for propping it up when in laptop mode. What the Libretto lacks in aesthetic it makes up for in quality — you’d think it would feel like a delicate device, but it’s markedly sturdy and the hinge connecting the screens doesn’t feel even the slightest bit loose. The left edge of the device houses a USB port and headphone jack, while a microSD card reader dwells on the edge of the top screen.
In terms of size and weight, the W105 is a throw back to older seven-inch netbooks and UMPC devices, like the UMID M2. The smaller displays makes it only 7.95 inches wide, but since they’re stacked up on top of each other when closed it measures 1.2 inches thick. When fully opened, the device is closer in size to a tablet, and it’s actually a bit shorter than the iPad. Folded up, it’s exceedingly small, and at 1.8 pounds it’s no struggle to slide into a large jacket pocket or a purse. Oh, and Toshiba was nice enough to include a velvet carrying case so it doesn’t get scratched up. Thanks!
Obviously, the Libretto W105’s heart and soul is its dual seven-inch, 1,024 x 600-resolution LCDs. The glossy screens are shockingly glossy, which makes the device nearly impossible to use in the sunlight. Not that the iPad is any better, but looking at the bottom screen on a sunny day was like looking into a black hole. The viewing angles of both displays are actually decent for a regular laptop, but not good enough for a tablet device like this. What do we mean by that? Well, sharing the screen with a friend on an airplane was adequate, but when we sat back from the device while it was in laptop mode we couldn’t make out the letters on the keyboard. The W105 has an accelerometer for transforming the device into an e-reader of sorts, but oddly you can only rotate the screen in one direction — you have to rotate it clockwise so that the bottom of he system sits in your left hand. The accelerometer is quick to start adjusting when turned, but it takes about seven seconds to adjust the software.