Libretto (Italian: booklet), plural Librettos, or Libretti, text of an operetta, or other kind of musical theatre. — Encyclopaedia Britannica The...

Share story

Libretto (Italian: booklet), plural Librettos, or Libretti, text of an operetta, or other kind of musical theatre.

— Encyclopaedia Britannica

The Libretto is a sub-notebook computer line (mini-notebook) designed and produced by Toshiba.

— Wikipedia online encyclopedia

Your humble correspondent requires a libretto at the opera house or he goes nuts trying to figure out what all that musical gesturing, garroting and genuflecting is telling the audience, which always seems to know exactly what’s up.

The only trouble with a libretto in the Britannica sense is that it can be mighty hard to read in a dimly lighted theater.

Same thing goes for a Libretto in the Wikipedia sense.

The biggest reservation by far that emerged from reviewing the book-sized Toshiba Libretto palmtop computer is that its fits-in-one-hand size makes the screen hard to read. Just like reading a libretto at the opera, reading the Toshiba Libretto is difficult but certainly possible.

Size turns out to be both the subcompact’s greatest feature and its biggest drawback.

Toshiba sells versions of the innovative Libretto sub-notebooks in Asia but hasn’t tried to market a palmtop in the U.S. for six years because of earlier lukewarm response.

But with wireless hotspots and voice calls over the Internet now available everywhere from truck stops to convention centers, many computer users are looking for something that delivers full PC powers yet approaches the size of the popular BlackBerry-type e-mail/Web/phone devices.

Toshiba’s Libretto offers a chance to experience the joys and powers of pocket computing with Windows XP Professional, a 60-gigabyte hard drive, 512 megabytes of RAM, a DVD burner, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a batch of other bells and whistles.

It is based on Intel’s 1.2 GHz Ultra Low Voltage Pentium M chip, which is fast enough to play many computer games and all business software.

Put a hardback novel on top, and the Libretto disappears — it’s about an inch less in length and a half-inch less in width.

Priced at $2,099 with bundled DVD-RW drive on, the new Librettos clearly target business users.

I got almost 4 ½ hours of battery life while using the Libretto for text documents with a bit of Web fact grabbing.

Because it is so small and thus more susceptible to getting misplaced or lost, the 8.2-by-6.5-inch Libretto case includes a fingerprint reading bar that lets users set Windows so that nobody can log on without sweeping the right fingerprint across the sensor.

The keyboard is 70 percent the size of a regular laptop keyboard, with square keys that are an order of magnitude better than those on a BlackBerry, Treo or Windows Mobile PC Smartphone.

Until you hold one in your hand, it’s hard to see why any tech fan wouldn’t be consumed with gadget lust over such a fine little machine.

Then you try to read the screen.

Admittedly, my 60-year-old eyes don’t handle up-close reading all that well, so you might want to take this with a grain of salt. But I was puzzled at why Toshiba decided to use a nose-bleed high resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels on a 7.2-inch diagonal screen.

So I reduced the resolution to the Libretto’s lowest allowed — 800 x 600 pixels, which makes everything on the screen bigger.

A VGA cord lets the Libretto hook up to projectors and wider screens for proper-sized presentations or movie/opera DVD watching.

And with its robust battery life, this Libretto will be going strong long after the fat lady sings.