When I visited the Google Developer Bootcamp of the Munich Google Technical User Group (GTUG Munich) last night, I was handed out a Toshiba AC100 Netbook and had the chance to test it. It runs on Google Android 2.1 and is a very lightweight, thin and good looking netbook.In this review I will try to capture what I liked about the AC100 and if there are any shortcomings.
The battery was pre-charged and the first boot was fast. After choosing regional settings and selecting a WiFi Network, the device downloaded a few packages and started the Android desktop.
The four desktop screens you get are exactly the same like on an Android mobile device; only bigger of course. At the bottom of the desktop you find a menu bar to access programs. At the top there are a home button, a WiFi Connectivity meter, a battery life indicator and a clock.
There are a few desktop widgets pre-installed like Twitter, Facebook or Google Search. The animations are very fluid, I found them to be even better than on the Android mobile devices by HTC or Samsung. The keyboard is good and the build quality of the Toshiba AC100 is great; it feels very nice in your hand and is easily portable.
If you type in a search query into the Google search widget you will be asked what browser you want to use. If you choose the built-in browser you won't be able to use your mouse scroll wheel, instead you will have to click and swipe like on a touch device. When I used Opera mini, mouse scrolling worked as expected. The Web pages I tried, for instance Facebook worked as expected and were rendered quickly and correctly.
The screen is a glare-type screen. Colors and sharpness were very good. The screen offers 1024 x 600 pixels of resolution and is 10inch wide.
Animations were very fast and fluid. HD Video was possible because the AC100 features a Nvidia Tegra 250 chipset with a dedicated GPU. The 1Ghz dual-core ARM A9 CPU is also very good. I could not hear noises coming from the AC100 which I do attribute to the internal 8GB of Flash HDD. So the Toshiba is absolutely silent, which is nice.
Connectivity and Conclusion
In my opinion, for a netbook, the connectivity was great. The Toshiba AC100 offers a HDMI output, a memory card reader and two USB ports, one standart size and one mini USB port. The internal WiFi features the latest n-specification and you get Bluetooth. It's possible to upgrade to 3G for a small price.
Overall I was fairly impressed with the looks and the small weight of the Toshiba AC100. I personally did not like Android as a notebook operating system. You can't develop or perform any other specialized tasks on this netbook, that's for sure. Most of the things one will do with this netbook will be cloud based, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But keep in mind that Android was developed for touch phones and this isn't a touch device. That makes the usability of the AC100 rather bad, especially when compared to offerings by competitors, even if they might be slightly more expensive. I think Toshiba should invest more time in making the operating system fit to the hardware next time. That said, the AC100 is definitely a step into the right direction.
Thanks go to Marcel of InterOne and Toshiba for letting me test the netbook.