Spacebook laptop to launch screen space race

gScreen's notebook will sport two 17-inch screens, but may not be ready for the holidays

With its first laptop, gScreen Computer Corp. will deliver 4.6 million pixels of desktop real estate with the Spacebook's dual 17-inch LED screens, for under US$3,000.

But the likely buyers of the hefty (8.7 pounds) laptop, graphics and engineering professionals as well as avid hobbyists, may have to wait until after this holiday season to buy the Spacebook.

The little-known Alaska-based firm said last month on its blog that it was "hopeful that we may have a limited number" of Spacebooks available by the end of the year, for the U.S. and Canadian markets only.

However, gScreen said last week that it planned a "pre-sale event" on December 15th, and confirmed the screen size of its first model and the target list price of US$2,895.

gScreen did not immediately return requests for clarification.

Rob Enderle, a longtime independent PC market analyst, said that not launching in time for the holidays may not be a problem for the company. "The kind of audience that buys this thing are engineers or architects. They're not regular notebook users," he said.

The only major PC maker with a similar dual-screen product is Lenovo, with the ThinkPad W700ds it released one year ago.

Praised by PC World's reviewer, the W700ds would nevertheless lose to the Spacebook on weight (11 pounds), screen real estate (one 17-inch LCD paired with a 10.6-inch secondary screen), and even price (the cheapest W700ds configuration starts at about US$3,200 online.)

Mobile workstation-class notebooks "historically cost US$10,000 to $20,000," Enderle said. But the market has collapsed in recent years after "many engineers moved to high-end gaming notebooks that gave them the same performance at a lower price."

At US$3,000, the Spacebook is still a "relatively good deal" for its specialized audience, he said.

But if gScreen can generate enough sales volume to deliver its laptop at US$2,000, it could compete effectively in the premium notebook segment, thus "opening up the market a lot for itself," Enderle said.

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Eric Lai

Computerworld (US)
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