California-based start up Kno Inc. announced it has begun shipping its Linux-based touch screen educational tablet for students, letting them read textbooks, take notes and browse the Web.

The first Kno tablets will begin arriving this week, the Silicon Valley company said.

Kno, short for knowledge, is a 14.1 touch-screen tablet that blends textbooks, course materials, note-taking, web access, educational applications, digital media and sharing.

A single-screen Kno tablet costs $599 and weighs about 1.2 kg, while the dual screen tablet costs $899 and weighs roughly 2.5 kg. Kno uses a NVIDIA Tegra T200 Series CPU graphics processor.

Currently, the Kno tablet is available in limited quantity and is now available by invitation only. Shipments to pre-order customers will be staggered over the next month, the company said.

Over the next month, we plan to deliver units to pre-order customers and work closely with them to ensure a great user experience, said Osman Rashid, CEO and Co-Founder of Kno Inc.

Founded in May 2009, the company has received funding from Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Maples and Ron Conway.

The company is working with major textbook publishers including McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, Pearson, and Cengage Learning to make their textbooks available to Kno users.

The Kno offers notebooks, which are very much like physical notebooks, only you can write or type as many pages of notes as you want, draw, and capture the most important information from your text books to help you study. Textbooks can be read in their full size, without scrolling, and with all the formatting designed by the author and publisher.

The Kno comes with a built-in web browser so you can research, check Wikipedia, access email - everything you expect from the Web.

E-textbooks are growing at an estimated compound annual growth rate of nearly 49 percent through 2013, when they will account for more than 11 percent of textbook sales, according to a recent report from Simba Information.

According to Forrester Research, tablet sales in the U.S. will go to 20.4 million units in 2015 from 3.5 million units in 2010, a 42 percent compound annual growth rate. Starting in 2012, tablets will outsell netbooks, a device commonly used by many college students today.