Toshiba unveils ARM, Nvidia-based smartbook
The way netbooks should be?
Hands On Toshiba's dual-screen Libretto palmtop may be a gimmick, but its AC100 smartbook, also announced today, is the business.
Described as a "Mobile Internet Device", the AC100 is really a netbook - Toshiba is simply avoiding the word because its new, skinny boy is based on ARM chippery rather than Intel's Atom platform.
The ARM core in question is a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 built inside an Nvidia Tegra 250 system-on-a-chip operating at 1GHz and running Android 2.1 with a UI tweaked by Toshiba to add a handy side-scrolling launch bar-cum-dock along the bottom of the screen.
The screen is a netbook-size 10.1in, 1024 x 600 job, but Toshiba has missed a trick by not making a touch-sensitive one. Sure, you're not going to want to drag icons around with your finger, but Android's UI - especially with Toshiba's launcher - suits a tap-to-lauch action.
It would certainly be quicker than reaching down to the touchpad to steer the mouse pointer over to the icon, which is what you have to do here. It quickly makes you realise why Apple's iOS doesn't have a pointer.
The AC100 has 512MB of DDR 2 memory on board and an 8GB SSD - you work in the cloud, see? - but there's a Micro SD slot if you need more local storage.
Some models will contain an HSDPA 3G adaptor, but all will have 802.11n Wi-Fi on board, plus USB and - since the Tegra can handle HD content with ease - and HDMI output.
The whole thing is a comfortable-to-carry 870g and measures 262 x 190 x 14-21mm, though it tapers to a lot less than that at the front edge.
As skinny as it is, the AC100 has battery enough for eight hours' operation, Toshiba claimed, and will last for seven days on standby.
Thin, lightweight and designed for media consumption and communications rather than productivity - though DataViz Documents-to-Go is bundled so you can edit spreadsheets if that's your thing - this is the arguably the best keyboard-equipped iPad alternative yet.
Toshiba was again cagey on the AC100's price, preferring not to say for now. Hopefully, though, we won't be shocked when the smartbook goes on sale in August. ®
As they are not using any Intel components, they won't have had their arms twisted by Chipzilla's retarded contractual screen resolution requirements.
Surely we can now do better on ARMbook screen resolution, or perhaps through this questionable business practice Intel has completely killed off display innovation in this form factor?
Looks good, but ...
"The AC100 has 512MB of DDR 2 memory on board and an 8GB SSD - you work in the cloud, see?"
No I bloody well don't.
OTOH, since Android is probably less bloated than Windows and, to a lesser extent, a full-on Linux distro, it could be that 512Mb is plenty - I'm going out on a limb here since I've never used Android.
Liking the carbon fibre look as well, even if the 1024x600 screen is a fail.
It looks good, but why, oh why only 1024x600 screen resolution. I know this is considered "standard" for netbooks, but, unless it is dirt cheap, I will not buy a netbook or smartbook with less than 1280x720 pixels. Are 1280x720 displays that much more expensive than 1024x600 displays?
Towards the end of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4Xr9ZSnXxQ the Toshiba bloke quotes a price of 40,000 to 50,000 Yen which in real money is £300-£375. Hopefully it will be closer to the bottom end of that scale, only then will this have a fighting chance against Atom based netbooks.
Can it Do "High Profile" AVC streamed content though
Tony, would you mind actually qualifying your "since the Tegra can handle HD content with ease - and HDMI output." statement please, as in, can it actually play smoothly generic x264 encoded <b> "High Profile" </b> level 3.1 through level 4.1 AVC/H.264 at
WSVGA 1024×576 ,16:9 ratio ,1.778 ,589,824 pixels
720p (WXGA, min.) 1280×720 ,16:9 ratio ,1.778 ,921,600 pixels
900p 1600×900 , 16:9 ratio, 1.778 , 1,440,000 pixels and/or
1080p 1920×1080 ,16:9 ratio , 1.778 , 2,073,600 pixels
non of this antiquated crap 2006 esq "Baseline Profile" , or even "Main Profile" ONLY "High Profile matters today and in the future, after all even the BBC HD content right now is encoded as "High Profile" AVC at 2Mbit/s for their 720P and 3.5Kbit/s 1080P