Smartbooks may not have breached the market at the pace ARM hoped for, but even with that delay the first models in the wild are getting mixed reviews. Over at Carrypad our old friend Steve “Chippy” Paine has been putting the Airlife 100 through its paces since unboxing it earlier this week, and while it’s nowhere near perfect there are some real strengths, not least lengthy battery life even when always connected to a 3G network.
In fact the battery could be the Airlife 100’s biggest strength: the smartbook managed 18hrs of mixed use from a 90-percent charge, including 7hrs with the screen off (ovenight) and 3G and WiFi active all the time. That’s with no user-effort to eke out extra runtime, and works out to an iPad-besting performance. Unfortunately, browsing isn’t as fast as on an Intel Atom based netbook, there’s no Flash support and you can’t send files – such as photos – to the Airlife 100 via Bluetooth, only from it.
The biggest problem, it seems, is Android itself, or at least what’s missing from a regular smartphone running the platform. The Airlife 100 has no Android Market and no Google Experience apps – which considering you can’t access the full version of Gmail in the browser is particularly frustrating – and doesn’t support USB host, so you can’t plug in peripherals like digital cameras. That’s going to confuse buyers expecting netbook-style functionality. In the end, Steve reckons the high price and the niche features will count the HP Compaq Airlife 100 out for all but the smallest of target audience.