got invited to VIA's office in Taipei, Taiwan, for a quick look at the brand new VIA OpenBook reference design. VIA sounded very confident about the OpenBook platform and the company has already recieved a lot of interest from several larger companies, although they didn't want to mention any names at this early stage.
We were treated to not only one, but two OpenBook's, one in black and white and one in black and silver, as you'll see from the pictures below. The build quality seemed very close to that of the 8.9-inch Eee PC from Asus and the keyboard is about the same size and quality, as well.
We did find out one very interesting piece of information, all the wireless modules in the OpenBook use the SDIO interface; yes, that's the same interface that is used for adding various non-memory card devices to various Smartphones, PDAs, etc. The OpenBook has two such slots, one for WiFi/Bluetooth/A-GPS and one for either WiMAX or some kind of 3/3.5G data module. The machines we saw had a WiMAX or WiBro module in them. WiBro is a Korean version of WiMAX.
The front of the OpenBook has a switch that allows you to switch between WiFi/Bluetooth (and A-GPS if installed) mode or WiMAX/3G mode, and leaving the switch in the middle disables all of the wireless modules.
Don't expect to find the new VIA Nano processor in the OpenBook for some time, as this is very much an entry level product, but it will most likely appear in future models of the OpenBook, although it's all down to the final manufacturer/OEM/ODM to decide what CPU goes into the OpenBook.
The machines we looked at followed all of the reference specifications, i.e. 1.6GHz processor, 80GB hard drive etc. You can find the full specs here
Here are some pictures of the two machines.
The OpenBook running Windows Vista
Size comparison to a pen
The difference between the silver and the white model
The left side of the OpenBook
The right side of the OpenBook
The bottom of the OpenBook
This is the front-mounted wireless switch, currently in WiFi mode
Here you can see that Windows Vista has detected the SDIO WiFi module
A comparison against HP's mini-note