Toshiba AC100 review
Has so much to offer tech junkies that it feels like a bargain, but the limited software makes it clear this is a first-generation device
If you look at any Toshiba advert you'll see the phrase "Leading Innovation" sneaked in somewhere, and that's exactly what the AC100 aims to show. This is no run-of-the-mill ultraportable running Windows 7; instead, it totes a highly tweaked version of Google Android.
And it had to be tweaked. The AC100 has a 1,024 x 600 screen and uses a keyboard as its sole input method, with no touchscreen to navigate system options. It could have been a disaster, but numerous thoughtful design touches make using it a pleasure rather than a chore. (You can see a selection of screenshots here.)
Those neat touches stem from the physical design, which we praised in our exclusive preview of the AC100 earlier this year. For example, the Esc key doubles as Back, which is vital when browsing through Android's menus, and you can jump straight to Settings by pressing the cog-wheel button at the top-right. To flick between open applications, press the button to its immediate left; switching on wireless or changing brightness is also a simple button-press.
The keyboard itself is pretty good for such a small device. We had no trouble reaching good typing speeds thanks to the generously sized keys, and although the action is nothing special - clicky is a word that springs to mind - touch-typists should have little trouble adjusting. The one annoying omission is a Delete key; Backspace and separated cursor keys are your only friends if you make a mistake.
Toshiba has even made the effort of partnering with DataViz to provide an adapted version of Documents To Go. Dubbed "Basic", this loses the ability to perform word counts in Word To Go or inserting new worksheets in Sheet To Go, and most aggravatingly you can't create new documents - but you can get around this by opening an existing blank document. If you do want to access such options, you'll need to pay $15.
Which brings us to potentially the biggest problem for the AC100: the apps. Or, more precisely, the lack of them. While Toshiba does include an eBook reader, Fring for VoIP calls, an Amazon MP3 app and Evernote, you can't perform the usual Android trick of heading to the Android Marketplace to download the app of your choice.
Instead, you must make do with the Camangi Market. This is no artificial restriction: there's an inherent difficulty when trying to use an app designed for a 480 x 800 screen on the AC100's large display. However, the Camangi Market is embarrassingly sparse with just 145 apps. There's no battery meter, for instance, and while there are some useful apps (a money manager, for instance, and a currency converter), we'd say the majority wouldn't pass the Apple quality-control test.
Perhaps surprisingly, the lack of touchscreen isn't such a killer. While being unable to tap a dialog button can be frustrating, and you sometimes hit odd interface problems (such as wanting to drag the scrollbar down, when counter-intuitively that moves the screen up in the same way that dragging a screen with your finger would work), the responsive touchpad and numerous shortcut keys make life easier.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base Includes 1yr EU warranty|
|Dimensions||262 x 190 x 21mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Nvidia Tegra 250|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||1|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,024|
|Resolution screen vertical||600|
|Resolution||1024 x 600|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia Tegra 250|
|Graphics card RAM||N/A|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk usable capacity||8GB|
|Optical disc technology||None|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||N/A|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||1|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||no|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Smart Media reader||no|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Hardware volume control?||no|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Overall application benchmark score||N/A|
|Office application benchmark score||N/A|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||N/A|
|Encoding application benchmark score||N/A|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||N/A|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||N/A|
|3D performance setting||N/A|
Operating system and software
|Software supplied||Documents To Go Basic by DataViz, Evernote, Fring, Amazon MP3, FBReader|