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Via OpenBook Brings 3G Web, Bigger Screen

Having carved out an initial footprint in the booming mini-notebook market with its NanoBook reference design, Taiwanese IC manufacturer Via revealed a next-gen competitor to the Asus Eee and its ilk on Tuesday. The Via OpenBook will bring a larger screen along with high-speed wireless connectivity to the ultra-mobile-PC scene.

Although Via has taken a page from Asus in widening the OpenBook’s screen to 8.9 inches, it will leapfrog even Asus’s latest Eee 901 with support for WiMAX, HSDPA, or EV-DO/W-CDMA wireless Internet built in. Like the NanoBook before it, the OpenBook will use Via’s C7-M ULV processor, but will pick up a new integrated graphics chipset from the company, the VX800.

Other upgrades include a dual-webcam design, with one cam pointing outward from the lid for recording lecture and presentations, standard Bluetooth, and an optional GPS module. Hard drive space has also jumped to be on par with many full-size notebooks, at 80GB. Exterior dimensions will remain similar to last-gen notebooks, but Via says weight is now under 2.2 pounds, a slight increase from the NanoBook’s advertised 1.87 pounds.

The OpenBook will most likely see commercial availability when a third-party manufacturer picks up the design in the future. To speed up that process, Via has also made CAD files for the machine completely open source, meaning anyone can download them and modify them at will.