Ultrathin Laptops and More Gadgets at Computex

There were a number of cool new gadgets on display at the Computex Taipei 2010 electronics show, but many were overlooked due to the thirst for iPad-like tablet devices.

Here are four nifty non-tablet devices coming to world markets soon from Taiwanese companies:

1. Compal Electronics showed off some of the thinnest laptop designs ever at Computex, highlighted by the Ultra Slim Smartbook, which has an 11.6-inch touchscreen. This smartbook, a name given to laptop-like devices that use Arm processing cores, is only 8.9 millimeters thick. The MacBook Air, which started the thin craze, tapers from 4mm to 19.4mm at its thickest point, according to Apple's Web site.

Compal engineers were able to make the Ultra Slim so thin by putting most of the computing circuitry back near the hinge, where the screen meets the keyboard. In most laptops, that area is normally reserved for the battery, but Compal says it's designed a wide, thin battery to fit under the keyboard, which is full-sized.

This smartbook can use an Arm processor or an Intel CULV (consumer-ultra low voltage) processor, Compal representatives said.

Compal also displayed a hinge-less laptop with a 13.3-inch touchscreen. Engineers used a thin, soft material for the LCD display to get it so thin and enable it to fold like a leather folio. They declined to say what the material was.

The company said both laptops could be out by October of this year, but they declined to say how much they would cost.

2. Inventec put out its first mobile-Internet-device (MID) that uses Google's Android software. The Dr. Eye 4.8-inch touchscreen clamshell MID has a complete QWERTY keyboard for thumb typing, includes wireless connectivity for mobile Internet surfing and Skype-compatible video conferencing software that makes use of its 1.3-megapixel Web cam. The device is named after the company's popular Chinese-English translation and dictionary software and it is aimed at markets where Chinese is spoken, including Taiwan, China, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The device will come in 3 versions, the N18 with Wi-Fi for under US$400, the N24 with GPRS wireless for around $500 and the N31 with 3G wireless for $600.

3. Acer's K11 Projector: What's special about this mini-projector is how much technology Acer has crammed inside this 122 mm by 116 mm, 610 gram, black package. It boasts 858 x 480 resolution for photos, Powerpoint presentations or 480p video, according to Acer. Laptops, DVD players and other devices can be plugged in via USB or HDMI ports, and it has an SD card slot as well.

Acer representatives said it's already on sale in Europe for €349 (US$413), and will be on sale in the U.S. around the end of July for around US$460.

4. Delta Electronics will start selling a color e-reader in a package the size of regular A4 paper by the end of this year. Its 13.1-inch touchscreen uses e-paper technology from Japan's Bridgestone. The company is working with content providers to offer the e-reader cheaply along with a subscription to a magazine or newspaper, something that can take advantage of its color features.

The Delta device does not have an LCD screen, so it's not made for video. It does offer note-taking capability, and 3G or Wi-Fi wireless technology will be added if a partner wants such technologies aboard, a Delta representative said. The company plans to aim the device at professionals who need to read a lot of business papers and reports at work.

The company showed the e-reader alongside a smaller 4.1-inch experimental e-paper screen where the color filter has been removed, enabling a much brighter red color. A Delta representative said they are looking for new ways to offer brighter colors on e-readers.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon