Last year at Computex in Taipei VIA had its first go at the low-cost notebook market with its NanoBook reference design - essentially a very small form factor laptop based on the company's VX700 chipset and C7-M ultra low voltage processor. Though we've seen the Everex CloudBook emerge from this reference design, it was really the Eee PC who prompted the explosion of the low-cost notebook market that is now commanded by Asus.

VIA doesn't want to be left behind in this growing market, however, and it's ready to try its hand once again with the recently announced OpenBook Mini-Note reference design. The new design is intended to give OEMs an easier path to build mini-notebooks that of course include VIA's CPU and chipset.

The OpenBook is based on VIA's 1.6 GHz C7-M processor and VX800 chipset - though a platform refresh to include the new Isaiah chip is likely further down the road. In line with the new wave of subnotebooks, the OpenBook includes an 8.9-inch 1024 x 600 screen, full-size keyboard, up to 2GB of DDR memory, a 2-megapixel camera, a memory-card reader, and a 4-cell battery that offers up to three hours of life.

The VIA OpenBook will be compatible with Windows Vista Home Basic, XP, and various Linux distributions when it ships later this year. Pricing has not yet been announced for notebooks using this reference design since that's up to manufacturers, but current estimates put the OpenBook in the $400-600 price range depending on communications and storage options.