gScreen SpaceBook: Back to the Future with Dual Screens?by Kristian Vättö on July 17, 2011 7:30 PM EST
gScreen has released two SpaceBook-branded laptops that sport dual 17.3” 1080p monitors. That makes SpaceBook the laptop with the most real screen estate with over four million pixels. gScreen has achieved dual screens by making them sliding - the other screen will slide behind the other one to maintain a regular laptop form factor. The slide effect also allows SpaceBook to be used as a normal one-screen laptop.
|gScreen SpaceBook specifications|
|SpaceBook 17 i5 4G||SpaceBook 17 i7 8G|
|Screen size||2x 17.3"||2x 17.3"|
|Resolution||2x 1920x1080||2x 1920x1080|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-560M (2.66GHz dual core)||Intel Core i7-740QM (1.73GHz quad core)|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250M 1GB||NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250M 1GB|
|RAM||4GB DDR3 1333MHz||8GB DDR3 1333MHz|
|Hard drive||500GB 7200rpm||500GB 7200rpm|
|Optical drive||Super-Multi DVD drive||Super-Multi DVD drive|
|Wireless||802.11 b/g/n||802.11 b/g/n|
|Connections||Headphone jack, mic-in, Ethernet, 3x USB 2.0, eSATA+USB, FireWire, HDMI, memory card slot||Headphone jack, mic-in, Ethernet, 3x USB 2.0, eSATA+USB, FireWire, HDMI, memory card slot|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||16.5" x 1.9" x 12.6||16.5" x 1.9" x 12.6|
For a quick history lesson, gScreen was founded in 2003 and has solely concentrated on dual-screen laptops. They first revealed their plans in 2009 and originally SpaceBook was supposed to come out in early 2010, but it was delayed. However, after more than a year, gScreen is now taking pre-orders. They also seem to have some kind of promotion regarding to the pricing so the prices listed above are the original prices, not discounted ones.
Frankly, the specifications are straight from early 2010 as well. There is no Sandy Bridge, only Arrandale and Clarksfield, both of which are 18 months old (or more) by now. As for the graphics, gScreen offers NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250M with 1GB of VRAM (no word on the type, though DDR3 is likely) in both models and this GPU is roughly two years old. gScreen doesn’t even offer any BTO options so these are the only options you have; no Blu-Ray, SSDs, or anything like that (although you should be able to install them on your own). There is also no word on the panel type, only that they have LED backlighting. Given the high price and gScreen's aim at professional market, IPS displays would be a nice addition, but with outdated CPU and graphics, a TN panel seems inevitable.
Given the above, we have to ask: exactly what is the market for the SpaceBook? gScreen claims that they focus on filmmakers, photographers, designers and CAD engineers. However, who would pay over $2000 for a laptop with very out dated hardware and use it as a work machine? If you work with video or other intensive content, then you are going to want the fastest machine you can find, or at least a computer that offers good performance for the buck. Gamers won’t even take a look at machine like this considering its hefty price tag and relatively poor specs. Engineers likewise wouldn't even think about outdated hardware with no professional GPU features (e.g. Quadro or FireGL).
The only market for SpaceBook that I can see is people who really, really need a lot of screen estate while on the go and are ready to trade performance and portability (and a nice amount of $) for those features. That doesn't seem like a big market and it’s hard to see SpaceBook becoming a blockbuster. $1200 can easily get you a laptop with a quad-core Sandy Bridge CPU, decent GPU, and 1080p screen. That’s much more powerful and portable than SpaceBook while costing half as much. With the leftover money, you can grab two big desktop LCDs (even IPS panels!) and get more screen estate than SpaceBook, and still saving money. The only thing you miss out on there is transportability.
All in all, SpaceBook is an interesting concept but it isn't enough to justify the out dated hardware and high price. With 2011 hardware and some configurable options, it could potentially satisfy a niche market, but in its current state SpaceBook looks quite obsolete. We're curious, though: are any of our readers more forgiving of the design? Let us know.