Review: Toshiba Libretto

By Branko Miletic

Is it a bird, a plane, or just very small piece of IT kit designed for people with big wallets and small fingers? I’m not sure either, however some people has classified the Libretto series of netbook from Toshiba as being a ‘subnotebook’.

Confused?…Yep, me too.  The fact is that Toshiba’s Libretto looks like two Kindles stuck together and yes, it’s touchscreen enabled meaning the mouse is dead so our greasy fingers get to do all the walking and pointing, but the question still burns – what is it?

OK, before I answer that, let me point out that the Libretto W100 is an engineering marvel. It has Windows 7 crammed into something the size of a hard cover book, and it uses two touchscreens to allow you to surf the net, download whatever you want, email, Facebook, listen to music, watch movies, share documents, modify pictures etc, but I am still not sure where the Libretto actually fits.

As it was launched in Australia roughly around the time of the iPad, the temptation is always there to call it an e-reader. But that would be selling this rather unique product way too short. It is really a touchscreen-enabled ultraportable netbook but one that uses a full-bodied OS, rather than a watered-down version and one that is also robust, easy to use and as yet, has not suffered any major overheating issues.

Technically speaking, the Libretto’s Intel U5400 1.2 GHz processor purrs quietly under the unit’s brushed aluminium hood, with a 2GB of RAM processor, two 7-inch 1024 x 600 screens, 64 Gb of storage, a USB port plus an eight cell battery which gave me almost seven hours of playtime. Not bad really, considering some netbooks out there would struggle at those time levels.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the Libretto is a fantastic concept- one that perhaps will never get the level of appreciation it fully deserves.  But, we go back to my first question- what is it? – By that I mean in a functional, everyday sense. Although that is an almost impossible question to answer, since in many ways, the Libretto is what voice-to-text was in 1997- way ahead of its time, which in this world of consumer-driven IT products is not always a good thing. In other words, if it ain’t got a use, it ain’t got a hope!

Too bad- as I am sure whoever in Toshiba came up with the Libretto got a well-deserved big fat pay rise and a hefty promotion to boot for their great design and engineering skills. And maybe, possibly somewhere in the not-so-distant future we will see the Toshiba Libretto resurrected as a new category—but not today.

Pros: very light, long battery life, futuristic design, uses Win 7
Cons: expensive, no defined role and screen does not perform that well in direct sunlight.

3.5 Shacks out of 5