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Providing a brief respite from the tablet onslaught comes a fascinating new device from NEC. The company has been very active in its home market over the past few months, first introducing the decent looking LifeTouch Android tablet at the end of last year and then following up with the innovative dual-screened Cloud Communicator LT-W on show at CES in January. Continuing with its innovative streak but taking a diversion from the well worn tablet route, NEC has revealed its latest MID, an Android netbook/smartbook called the LifeTouch Note.

Featuring a WVGA 7-inch LED-backlit resistive touch screen in a slim clamshell form factor with a nicely sized full QWERTY keyboard, the LifeTouch Note looks to combine the appeal and portability of the tablet form factor with the convenience and practicality of a netbook/smartbook. Impressing us even further is the hardware under the hood with the hybrid device sporting an NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor, 9 hours worth of battery life, a 2MP lid-mounted camera, GPS, support for SD/SDHC cards, and an accelerometer.

In addition, the Note will be available in three specifications, with the high-end model packing WiFi, 3G, and 8GB local storage; the mid-range model being identical but without the 3G; and the low-end model also being WiFi-only but having only 4GB local storage. On the software side the devices will ship with Android 2.2 Froyo and also include support for Android Market.

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Currently only slated for the Japanese market with a release date of March 10th, NEC states the the Note will be priced from 40,000 to 45,000 Yen for the low-end and high-end models, respectively. In a straight conversion this works out to be around US$480 to US$540, although we should keep in mind that comparable computer prices in Japan tend to be slightly higher than in the US.

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Generally I am very intrigued by the LifeTouch Note and would love to get my hands on one to try, but there are a couple of negatives that stick out for me including the resistive touch screen and a slightly older version of Android, although the inclusion of Android Market support is a very pleasant surprise.

On the plus side, I like the form factor with a full keyboard always being useful, and overall the specs look very good. In a similar vein to other LifeTouch devices, the Note has a very simple, clean plastic design that I find has a certain functional, no-nonsense charm to it. With a Tegra 2 onboard one would hope that NEC will eventually release an update to Android 3.0 Honeycomb when its released.

Check out the hands-on video by Akihabara News below and let us know whether the NEC LifeTouch Note Android netbook could tempt you away from tabletmania!

[Akihabara News]