Companion devices come in all shapes and sizes, from big-screen smartphones through tablets to netbooks and ultraportables, but Toshiba is hoping that by borrowing a little of each they'll find a gap in the market. The Toshiba AC100 looks like a netbook but runs Android, an OS we're more familiar with on smartphones or, more recently, tablets. The company reckons a traditional keyboard and NVIDIA's Tegra 2 processor should make the AC100 the best multimedia, browsing and communication ultraportable around, but is Android being asked to do more than it's currently capable of? Check out the full SlashGear review after the cut.
Friday's news that open-source tinkerers had managed to get Ubuntu 10.10 up and running on Toshiba's hitherto-Android AC100 smartbook raised a few eyebrows, but the usability of the hack was significantly scuppered by the fact it wouldn't load past the boot screen. That's been ironed out over the weekend, and Carrypad now has video of the AC100 doing its Ubuntu thing.
Video demo after the cut
Toshiba's AC100 is certainly an interesting notebook on the face of it: Tegra 2 processor, full QWERTY and plenty of battery life, but the Android OS does mean it's definitely a companion device and not your sole ultraportable. That could all change, however, now a hack for loading Ubuntu onto the AC100 has been developed; Carrypad pulled together the instructions and files from tosh-ac100.wetpaint.org, ac100.gudinna.com and the official Toshiba forums and managed to get his AC100 up and running with Ubuntu 10.10.
Qualcomm has all but confirmed that the smartbook is dead, with CEO Paul Jacobs admitting during the company's IQ 2010 event this morning that tablets such as the iPad had already occupied the niche his company expected smartbooks to. Jacobs described slates like the iPad as delivering the concept of "always-on, all-day devices" that smartbooks had initially promised.
With the Toshiba AC100 out in the wild, it's now possible to see just how well NVIDIA's second-gen Tegra chipset performs in comparison to other Android hardware. According to Carrypad's testing, the answer is "pretty darn impressive"; they've run Quadrant on the AC100 (an Android app that measures various aspects of processor, memory, I/O and 2D/3D graphics and combines them into a single score) and the netbook managed 1,911. In contrast, a Google Nexus One running Android 2.2 scored 1,390.
Having been spotted in-stock and up for sale in Europe yesterday, the Toshiba AC100 has now made an appearance in Taipei. Netbooknews got the Japanese version - launching there as the Dynabook AZ - and have mixed impressions; as reviewers found with the HP Compaq Airlife 100, Android simply isn't really ready for netbook-style implementations.
Video demos after the cut
Toshiba's AC100 MID has apparently gone on sale, with at least one German retailer claiming to have (limited) stocks of the 10.1-inch Tegra 2 based Android smartbook. The unit itself - packing an 8GB SSD, 512MB of RAM and running the Android 2.1 OS - lacks the 3G modem some Ac100s will have, meaning you're stuck using WiFi b/g/n or Bluetooth.
Smartbook rumors a-plenty this morning, as Toshiba and Lenovo's plans for the rest of 2010 seep out of Taipei. According to DigiTimes' sources, while Toshiba has already shown its first smartbook - which it insists on calling a MID - the Tegra 250 based AC100, the company is also apparently preparing two ARM-based tablet PCs for launch by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Lenovo's mysterious plans for their own smartbooks have been linked with faster Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.
Having disappointed hybrid smartbook fans with the apparent news that the U1 Hybrid and Skylight had been canned, Lenovo now seem to be hinting at a potentially different direction for their eye-catching hardware. TabletPCReview sat down with the company at a recent press event, and found the Lenovo team were talking about new Android builds for the U1 Hybrid and Skylight that implied the devices would, indeed, see an eventual release.