Friday, July 1, 2011

Toshiba AC100

Mobile phone in netbook size. ...or is it a netbook with mobile phone technology? Toshiba calls its AC100 a "mobile internet device" and equips it with Nvidia's ARM processor, Tegra 250, and Google's Android 2.1 operating system. We checked where this combination will place itself among netbooks and smartphones.

After Toshiba had obviously well and truly missed out on the netbook hype, and only could win an extremely small market share, it now belongs to one of the first manufacturers to place an ARM based notebook system on the market. Advantages are hoped for by developing especially consistent products with energy efficient technologies on the one hand. On the other, by distancing itself from the big manufacturers, Intel and Microsoft. Competition keeps the market alive.

Toshiba currently offers two different AC100 alternatives. The entry level model (AC100-10K) without UMTS modem starts at about 280 euro and the version with a WWAN module (AC100-10V) costs about 340 euro. We can't exactly explain why Toshiba offers the entry model with this equipment. This configuration makes a mockery of the basic idea and the AC100 is cheated of the basic core qualities. The Toshiba AC100 found at the lower end of the netbook competition in terms of price and thus belongs to the cheaper alternatives. Nevertheless, you are undercut by the one or other model, no matter if with or without UMTS, by 20.00 to 30.00 euro. The Acer Aspire One, for example, is already available for about 250 euro and the Asus Eee PC 1001P with UMTS is priced at around 300 euro and thus 10% cheaper than the Toshiba AC100-10V Internet Device.

The advertising message on Toshiba's German product site says the AC100 is "As versatile as a smartphone, as easy to use as a netbook". The fact that it can't be used as a phone, like Samsung's Galaxy Tab or Dell's Streak, is especially striking. This point seems to be only aimed at the hardware configuration and not as much on the real qualities. We were provided with the AC100-10K for our review, which also can't build up a mobile broadband connection.

Nvidia's Tegra 250's system-on-a-chip is used in Toshiba's AC100. According to Nvidia, it operates very economically with a power consumption of 500 mW. It is a chip that has a total of 8 processor on the die. There are two HD video processors, one for encoding and the other for decoding, one audio processor, an image processor, a graphics processor and an ARM 7 for input/output management, beside two Cortex A9 processors that work with 1 GHz. Basically, the other equipment is made up of a 512 MB RAM onboard, an 8 GB embedded MultimediaCard and the aforementioned interfaces. About 5.5 GB, which can be used for data, pictures, videos, etc., are available from the 8 GB memory.

One particularly striking characteristic is the promise to render 1080p videos smoothly. This isn't always yet possible with current Intel Atom netbooks that have an GMA 3150. It would be a respective value plus. The basic capability to also render HD flash videos is prevented because Android 2.1 is used as the operating system. Flash is first supported as of Android 2.2.

We have to leave out the usual benchmarks for the Toshiba A100, since they are all not compatible with Android. For this reason, we executed various practical tests, besides Sunspider Javascript Benchmark. These tests naturally can only be evaluated as subjective.

We achieved a total score of I25300 ms in the Sunspider test with Opera Mini and 8339 ms in the Dolfin browser. The second result even beats Apple's iPad that reaches about 10000. Also see the results of the Dell Streak, Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Specifications Toshiba AC100-10K :
  • Processor : NVIDIA Tegra 250 1 GHz
  • Memory : 512 MB, DDR2 800 Mhz, no expansions possible
  • Graphics adapter : unknown
  • Display : 10.1 inch 16:10, 1024x600 pixel, glossy: yes
  • Harddisk : 8GB SSD, 8GB embedded MultimediaCard
  • Connections : 2 USB 2.0, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: audio in/out combo socket, Card Reader: SD up to 2 GB, SDHC up to 32 GB, MMC up to 2 GB,
  • Networking : 802.11 b/g/n (bgn)
  • Optical drive : unknown
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 24 x 264 x 191
  • Weight : 0.86 kg Power Supply: 0.39 kg
  • Battery : 25 Wh Lithium-Ion
  • Price : 300 Euro
  • Operating System : Android 2.1
  • Additional features : Webcam: 1.3 MP, 12 Months Warranty.

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