HANOVER, GERMANY -- Toshiba has developed a detachable display that the company says will combine the convenience of a Tablet PC with the computing power of a notebook. The display could be available in about three years, the company said at this week's CeBIT trade show.
The company has already developed a prototype stylus-operated display that can be detached from a notebook PC, and is showing it here. The 12.1-inch TFT LCD screen with XGA (1024 by 768 pixels) resolution communicates with a Toshiba notebook "base station" via the 802.11b wireless protocol, says Hajime Yamaguchi, a research scientist at Toshiba's Advanced Electron Devices Laboratory.
The prototype display is 0.7 inches thick, weighs 1.2 pounds, and detaches from a Toshiba Dynabook SS SX notebook PC, he says. The company needs to slim the screen and reduce the weight before selling the product, Yamaguchi says.
Batteries Need a Boost
One issue is battery life: The prototype can operate for only about an hour away from its notebook PC base. While the screen uses lithium ion batteries, Yamaguchi declines comment on how much power the prototype uses.
"If users will accept two to three hours of battery life, it's not so difficult and we can launch it as a product in the next few years," he says.
The prototype uses a stylus, but the company can easily add a wireless keyboard, Yamaguchi says.
The detachable screen technology could enable users to enjoy the best of both worlds by combining the functions of a Tablet PC with a laptop's processing power, he says.
The company has no fixed plans for commercialization yet, but there are some ideas about what the product will look like in shops, Yamaguchi says.
For example, a commercial version of a model with a 12.1-inch screen could be 0.4 inches thick, weigh 10 or 14 ounces, and have a battery life of three to four hours, although developing a longer battery life independent of the base station PC could prove problematic. Toshiba is also considering installing a range of wireless connectivity, including 802.11g, 802.11n, and UWB (ultrawideband) specifications, Yamaguchi says.
It is technically feasible to develop models with these specifications within about two years, Yamaguchi says.
Toshiba wants to develop a variety of screen sizes ranging, for example, from 10 to 15 inches, and it may develop a line of notebook detachable PCs. The company is also considering providing the screens to other notebook PC vendors, Yamaguchi says.