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Toshiba AC100-10U review

A very portable Android-based laptop, but a bit of a missed opportunity

Toshiba AC100-10U
Powered by Android 2.1 and Nvidia's Tegra 2, the AC100-10U is an interesting machine but one that is in need of a touchscreen


  • Nvidia Tegra 2
  • Android 2.1
  • Portability


  • OS not great without touchscreen
  • Poor Android implementation

Toshiba's AC100-10U is a netbook-like device powered by Nvidia's Tegra technology and running Google's smartphone OS – Android 2.1.

Aimed at those after a very portable internet experience, we have mixed feelings about the device.

At only 870g, the laptop isn't a device you're going to have any problems carrying around, while the fanless system has allowed Toshiba to cram the device's components into a tiny chassis measuring only 21mm at its thickest point.

Battery life is also a selling point for this machine and the 377 minutes of video playback we obtained is impressive, without being exceptional.

The tough, matt-black plastic employed in building the chassis – with an inoffensive crosshatch pattern – makes the device almost impervious to scratches.

Bright screen

The 10.1-inch screen features a detailed 1024 x 600-pixel resolution and is very bright and a pleasure to view photos and videos on. The inclusion of a shiny screen finish means there are irritating reflections to contend with in bright light, however.

The keyboard, although a little cramped, is more than usable – but there's no delete key to accompany the backspace key, which regular typists may miss. 802.11n Wi-Fi is on board for speedy wireless networking, as is a 3G module. This means that, having purchased a tariff and SIM card from a network provider, you'll be able to surf the web or browse your email away from Wi-Fi hotspots.

We've long been fans of Google's ultra-intuitive Android OS, but it doesn't make a smooth transition on to the AC100. There's no touchscreen and the numerous hotkeys substituting for the swipes and scrolls normally executed on a smartphone are confusing.

Similarly, the Toshiba-tweaked interface is unattractive and clumsy, and selecting applications or links, for example, is a frustrating affair. Finally, instead of Google's own apps market, Camangi Market software is included.

There are some decent apps available, but their quality is questionable. Nevertheless, Nvidia's 1GHz Tegra 250 chipset provides decent processing power, and runs the operating system smoothly. Its low power means there's no need for a fan system.

The graphics card is part of the main chipset, and produces decent video. There's no room for an optical drive, and you'll find the 8GB of SSD storage fairly limiting if you have a lot of data to carry around.

It's hard not to see the AC100 as a bit of a missed opportunity. Both design and portability are great, but usability and the implementation of Android disappoint.

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