We got to spend a little bit of time with a prototype of VIA's new OpenBook
reference design, and while it's not going to revolutionize anything, VIA does seem to have a pretty good grasp on the balance of value, size and power necessary to compete in the subnotebook game. They were showing it off with Vista (though it will be available in XP and Linux versions as well), with an interface that was plenty responsive, and while the video we saw wasn't an incredible display of multimedia showmanship, it was neat to see on the C7-M all the same. Our two main gripes are the seeming thickness of the device -- 1.4-inches might be par for the course, but with this small of a laptop it seems awkwardly thick -- and the itty-bitty, cheap-looking keyboard that doesn't utilize the whole width of the laptop. The hope with a reference design is that some manufacturer might even be able to improve on VIA's version, and we'd say the first problem point to address is the keyboard. That said, we're quite impressed that VIA's crammed as much inside the OpenBook as it has, and perks like 3G / 4G connectivity, a trio of USB ports and a media card reader are making that MacBook Air look positively last century. Now the waiting game for one of the dozens of OEM types to start pumping these out of factories and into the arms of cherub-faced mini-note fans the world over. Video is after the break.