When it comes to small and innovative new devices, Americans often the get short shrift from manufacturers. Perhaps our love of oversized 15-inch laptops is to blame, or maybe U.S. retailers are just much more conservative than those in other countries. Whatever the case, there are a slew of exciting tablets, netbooks, and MIDs that are selling in Europe or Asia, but not in the United States. We hope some of these goodies will eventually make their way here, but until then, you may just be able to get one on eBay.
This 11.6-inch, 1366x768 resolution tablet is the first to feature Intel's Meego operating system. Better still, its unique pinboard interface allows you to pin all kinds of exciting widgets, from videos to social networking updates to the scrollable desktop. This is the only tablet we've seen that has scroll strips on the right or left side you can use to navigate around pages without putting your fingers all over the viewable area. It's such a shame that you can only buy the WeTab in Germany, but at least we have some videos to gawk at, including one that shows the device's 16 second cold boot time!
Good news. If you live in Asia, you get to be twice as productive, by having two screens on your notebook. If you live in America, tough luck. Made by Inventec and sold first under the Kohjinsha brand as the Kohjinsha DZ and now under the Onkyo brand as the Onkyo DX, this system has two 10-inch screens that slide out to give you the kind of twin monitor experience you previously could only get with external monitors. At 1366x768 per panel (for the Onkyo version), that's a whopping 2732 of horizonal screen real estate. Wow! If you want to get a closer look at this system, check out this detailed 3-part video review of the Kohjinsha DZ from Netbook News or this hands-on look at the Onkyo DZ.
It's not a smart phone, but the K-Touch X90 is one of the most unique-looking and functioning devices we've seen. The GSM 900/1800 handset won't even pick up a signal in America, but it's designed to look like a woman's compact and its tiny screen 320x240 screen even takes handwriting recognition from a stylus. It even has dual cameras and dual sims. If only it had Android!
We've long been fans of Lenovo's small business-oriented line of ThinkPad Edge notebooks, because they provide a stylish take on the tried-and-true ThinkPad design, along with arguably the best notebook keyboard in the industry. While the U.S. has been blessed with 13, 14, 15-inch ThinkPad Edge configs, we're not going to see the 11.6-inch ThinkPad Edge 11. This is a particular shame, because the ThinkPad Edge 11 is not only thinner and lighter than the Edge 13 that's currently on sale in America, but also sports a more power 1.3-GHz Core i3 ultra-low voltage processor and over 5 hours of endurance for under $600. Oh Lenovo, won't you please change your mind?
Is that Ubuntu in your pocket? In Japan only, Sharp sells its snazzy line of Linux-loaded 5-inch MIDs, both with a full QWERTY keyboard as PC-Z1 and as a slate under the model PC-T1. Just imagine navigating around and playing with a real PC that is just 5-inches in size and even thinner and lighter than the Viliv N5! Someone even managed to hack one into running Windows 95!
Want a color eReader that runs Android and sports a high-res screen that will even put the iPad to shame? You may need to move to Japan where Sharp is about to release its Galapagos line of eReaders. The Galapagos series includes both 5.5-inch (1024 x 600) and 10-inch (1366 x 768) readers that come in red or silver and even sport a snazzy track ball for easier navigation.
Like Lenovo, Samsung must not believe there's a strong market for 11-inch notebooks in the U.S. as the Korean company chose to release its 11.6-inch X125 in Europe and Asia only. Powered by a 1.6-GHz AMD Athlon II Neo K125 APU and ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics, the X125 is said to have modest battery life with its 3-cell battery, but a bit better with the 6-cell unit. Still this system is so thin and sexy, we think Americans would appreciate it. Check out the review video and see for yourself.
What ever happened to the smart book? Smart books, aka netbooks with ARM processors and lightweight operating systems, were supposed to be the next big thing but before a wave of devices could hit the market, industry experts (including Qualcomm which made most of the processors) declared the category dead. Toshiba's AC100 is one of the few smart books to be produced and it is a thing of beauty that only Asian and European consumers can purchase. The 1.9-pound, 0.8-inch thick device runs Android 2.1 on its 10-inch screen and has gorgeous yellow accents to compliment its sleek gray and black frame. It doesn't have much of app store, but if you are comfortable sideloading apps into Android or using an alternative marketplace to Google's, you can do a lot with the AC100.
Sure, Verizon just unveiled the Motorola Droid R2D2 Edition, but who needs Star Wars when you can have a sports car-themed phone? In Canada and elsewhere, Acer offers its Liquid E Android phone, which features a 3.5-inch WVGA screen, an underclocked (for power savings) Qualcomm Snapdragon 8250 CPU, and Android 2.1. Those specs are similar or less than those offered by a lot of Android handsets, but the special Ferrari edition has race car styling. Can your 1-GHz, 4-inch super phone do that?
Sure, you can get a netbook or even another 5-inch UMPC for less than the Eking M5's $772 price tag, but the China only device has some truly unique features. Powered by a 1.2-GHz Atom Z515 CPU, 16GB SSD, and 3G, the M5 has a 1024 x 600 touch screen,a flip out backlit keyboard, and a hot-swappable battery that gets up to 4 hours of endurance. UMPC Fever has a full review, but don't expect to be seeing it on these shores anytime soon.