THE LITL ENGINE THAT COULD

Litl Webbook

Litl Webbook

The “Litl WebBook” is definitely something different. It’s a three-pound laptop that boots into the Internet whenever it detects a wireless access point. From then on, you’re riding on a cloud.

This is a $699 totally web-based machine that uses cloud computing instead of installed programs. The cost is as much as a fully functional Windows computer, but you pay a stiff price to be early. Expect a number of these cloud computing devices to appear in the next few months and prices will drop in accordance.

litlThe idea behind a cloud computer is that most people do everything they want with a computer by going on the Web. Whether it’s email, editing photos, watching videos, checking the news or whatever, they usually don’t need or want installed programs. That’s good for this device, because there’s no way to put them in. There’s no hard drive, CD or DVD drive, just you, the screen and a keyboard. Word processing, database and spreadsheet programs are all available on the web for free at places like Google Docs and Zoho. The Litl WebBook maintains itself by updating security settings whenever you’re not using it, as long as you’re near a Wi-Fi connection.

When you power on this laptop, you see a series of small frames, called “cards.” Each represents a different web activity. You can click on the “card catalog” to look at the most popular websites. The basic ones are photos, weather, online music, games, YouTube videos, Facebook, Google Docs, the New York Times, BBC News, Wall Street Journal, etc. A card called “Media Wall” keeps a slideshow running from your Flickr or Shutterfly account. Click “text size” to get a larger font without distorting the page.

littl-The screen is 12 inches; the processor seemed plenty fast to us.  You can plug it into your TV with an HDMI (High Density Multichip Interconnect) cable and watch the Web on the big screen using a supplied remote control. It can be folded to stand on its own. The manual is just a collection of cards with notes, but you can click on Litl support and chat with a tech support person Monday through Friday.

This strikes us as the right computer for newbies. And it puts the fun back into the computing experience for old timers, since there’s nothing to go wrong. Litl uses the Linux operating system, but all of that is invisible to the user. All you see is the card catalog. The device turns on and off by pushing a button.  Battery life is about 3 hours, but most people will just leave it plugged in.

We connected it to our TV and went to Clicker.com to watch a biography of Mark Twain on “Biography,” a channel that’s not part of our regular TV service. It came right up.

One Response to “THE LITL ENGINE THAT COULD”

  1. Hi Bob and Joy

    You certainly “get it” about litl! A few extra points: a big factor in our price is the quality of that 12.1″ LCD, which, as you’ve no doubt noticed, is simply awesome. The 178-degree viewing angle and extreme brightness does not come cheap and it’s a big part of our bill of materials. Similarly the rest of our build quality sets a high standard.

    Also: our update system automatically upgrades the software while you sleep. We’re working hard to add new features and especially channels to our device and these will appear via the update system. Nothing for you to install. We also expect to release an SDK for open channels in the bear future so people can develop their own channels for our device.

    And: you didn’t mention our 2-year no-questions-asked money-back warranty. This is perhaps the most generous in the entire industry. If you don’t like our device, basically you just tell us and we’ll gove you a refund. See the warranty text on the litl website though to be quite clear.

    Cheers and thanks for the nice profile of our webbook,

    -phil