Toshiba is a quarter-century-old notebook veteran, and of late has been known more for solid reliability than elegance or innovation. The AC100 comes as a surprise: a beautifully designed, ultra-lightweight netbook with a 10.1in screen you would be proud to be seen using. Toshiba AC100 Toshiba's AC100: smartbook And here is …
Well it looks nice. I guess its only hope is that the linux community figure out how to get a more suitable OS onto it!
I met someone a week or two back at a training course who had one of these. He was running a Linux distro on it, and said that it was "mostly" working - there are apparently still some issues. I'm not sure which distro though.
ideal for meego (netbook ux) reference hw design?
Let me guess for you - Debian
The choice when dealing with a Dead Badger is pretty much between Debian, Debian and Debian.
This looks like a cool addition to my collection of Dead Badgers. I have an original Lenovo S10e but it has been annoying me a bit lately so I mostly use a vintage Y2002 PowerPC TiBook (running Debian of course). I may actually consider replacing the Lenovo with this one.
Hmm... If they discount it after it flops during Xmas I will probably get myself one.
Android 2.2 doesn't work and you think Meego 0.x will work?
Lets see Meego surive Nokia's meddling and the race to get it out into the real world, and then see if there is any development following beyond the handful that Intel have, before you try and stick it on to a netbook
If the price drops i'd be tempted.
The batteries are starting to show their age on my battered aspire one (on debian of course)
Re: Anton Ivanov
"If they discount it after it flops during Xmas I will probably get myself one."
Exactly the first thing that crossed my mind. I was planning to throw Debian at it, too.
Sounds like it might be quite nice when it's finished....
... but In the meantime it still looks like a tasty piece of hardware at a decent price.
If anyone would like to chuck an Ubuntu installation at this then I for one will be awaiting the results with keen interest :-)
Good news Jonathon: it's already been done. I saw Ubuntu running on an AC100 last week at ELC 2010 and it looked great.
Pretty much agree
I'd give it a slightly higher score, since I still find it useful, but agree with most of this. You did miss the issue of standby not working - it comes back from standby after a few minutes, which means you have to power it off completely when not using it. The hardware is lovely though, and reminds me of my old Psion 7 (which is why I got it).
So what are you reviewing?
Its a smartbook, and yet you compare it to a netbook, and not very accurately at that:
"Essentially, a netbook is a device you work through rather than on."
What a complete and utter load of tosh! (No pun intended) I can't remember who it was (someone from IBM perhaps?) who said many people were buying Netbooks (the later Windows versions) as a replacement computer... and this is certainly true for me and many others.
I've said this time and time again. Granted netbooks aren't any good at raw number crunching (so compressing an MP3 takes a few seconds longer... wooo!) but they ARE perfectly functioning FULL computers. My Netbook gets put through all sorts of things, image/video editing/creation, entertainment (720p no problem, 1080p in the right format), its even been used for the video screens in a £3m nightclub and controlling the lightrig, and DJing with a 4 channel USB soundcard/controller.
Anyhoo... I absolutely love the design of this, it looks absolutely awesome! Why can't they do that with Windows netbooks??
If it could run Ubuntu I'd buy one tomorrow.
I think there is an Ubuntu for ARM...
...how capable a distro it is, and/or whether it could run usefully on this machine, is another matter. No doubt someone will try it out soon enough.
In general, though, I agree - if I found one of these babies for £100-£150 at Morgan or Laptops Direct in a year's time, I'd be on it faster than a starving squirrel on the last peanut on Earth ((C) Scott Adams)...
If it ran Ubuntu it would be the perfect netbook. But I mean Ubuntu supported by Toshiba, not something full of glitches... I wonder why manufacturers seem so afraid of putting Ubuntu on their machines, scared of M$ or The Google?
As some above pointed out:
The beautifully designed and executed hardware?
... well maybe, apart from the crappy low-res display.
So that's why LE etc. are waiting for Android 3 then !
If Android 2.2 isn't suitable for tablets, it certainly isn't for a smartbook.
Seems like a sad fail
I've been looking forward to just this very combo, an ultralight netbook with Android or similar running on it. It seems to fail as a consumer and as a business device. This is a real shame. Hopefully someone gets some fixes out there for this.
Don't dick about with the keyboard. Still an early attempt and good to see some "quality" brands introducing these ARM devices. Maybe they'll be mature enough by the time my Aspire One is showing it's age.
Google said not to try this...
I though Google had told netbook manufacturers to wait for Android 3.0 for exactly the reasons you've given this a crap review.
As I understood it...
Android 2.2 and prior for smartphones.
Wait for Android 3.0 for tablets.
Mystery version of Android is for GoogleTV (unless someone knows what it is).
ChromeOS is for Netbooks/Smartbooks.
Running something other than Android and without the hacked keyboard... I think this could be a very interesting device. Maybe this could be a useful preview of what the ChromeOS smartbooks will/could look like.
The title is required
Given that this is 'Reg Hardware', and you said the hardware was lovely, 10% seems a little harsh.
I'm quite certain that it'd be possible to slap linux on this. Android without a touch screen is largely pointless anyway, I'd prefer a full-fat OS. If I didn't already have a netbook I'd definitely give this a try.
struck off from Santa's list
50% is a humdrum clone, 10% for a broken heart seems understandable, and just the info I and Toshiba needed, thanks Chris. I've been watching this model since spring as a netbook entry, and will wait until next year to see if Toshiba can rescue it in version 3.0, but will not faff around with a home-brew OS.
Ubuntu already there
Gees a 10 second Google already tells you that a ubuntu install on one of these devices is possible.
Apparently Toshiba are looking into an official port
Personally I love mine even with the quirks.
"Known Issues: There is currently no sound driver, so no sound will work on the ac100"
A Linux based smartbook already exists...
... but the hardware support is not quite done yet. I bought a EFIKA MX Smartbook last week. It seems to be pretty much the same thing as the AC100 but is a bit cheaper and weighs a bit more. It came running Ubuntu Maverick. Some stuff doesn't work (vid acceleration, suspend, battery life info, bluetooth) but it is otherwise pretty much as claimed. It turned out it shared an unfortunate feature with the AC100; a glossy screen. Efforts to provide full hardware support seem to be ongoing.
As I see, the EFIKA MX has half or less the computing power of Tegra2. So while they are both smartbooks, the dual-core Tegra2 actually has the power to run a full-desktop distro.
If it actually worked, I'd be up for buying one. I mean, it's so damned sexy and slim!
I reckon Android really is a phone/ tablet OS and so not suited to computers. I'm sure there are other, much better linux options they could have gone for instead of jumping on the "me too" android wagon.
A real shame.
Has any device got such a low mark before?
Unfortunately (I checked a couple of days ago) people aren't having any joy so far putting Ubuntu or Debian on it.
Any way to get a decent OS on that?
I second Jonathons interest in Ubuntu but wouldn't mind Debian :)
That's a bit harsh, surely. The hardware is great according to the author, so at least 50%, no?
10% sounds fair
Who cares if the hardware is great, if the actual 'usability' of it is broken?
Did Toshiba get the Nokia engineers to make this, but sack them half way through?
Or was it Apple's alarm engineer doing a backhander?
Just add a proper distro...
Ubuntu runs on it with a few problems to be sorted, and other distros should do similarly. To their credit Toshiba have assigned someone to give people the info they need to get it running properly, although it remains to be seen whether there will be problems regarding closed drivers and firmware blobs.
Sounds like they really screwed up with the Android. Android per se isn't bad but there is no denying that version 3.0 seriously needs to address the burgeoning number of form factors that are turning up. I wonder if Chrome would have been a better choice to release with, or just a version of Linux such as the Ubuntu Netbook version running from flash.
Anroid 3 will still not be a proper Linux
Android 3 may be a good release for tablets, but it will certainly have nothing to do with this machine and smartbooks in general.
Android will not run OpenOffice and other heavyweights you can easily run with this machine with Ubuntu.
10%, I don't remember ever seeing a score that low for anything on Reg Hardware. Have Toshiba set a new milestone?
P.S. I think we need a Reg Hardware Hall of Shame where we can mock the most inadequate and unworthy products to visit these pages.
Ubuntu and other FOSS stuff
Hardware support is not good so far: half the battery life, no sound. But it will get better hopefully.
Is there a version of Meego available that would run on it? I've that on my old Acer Aspire One and, for something that's not finished yet, it's not bad.
I'll buy it if it gets Debian or Ubuntu ARM on it.
Drivers. Yes. I would too.
I would recommend Ubuntu
Debian is compiled only for ARMv5 so it is not optimized for Tegra2.
Ubuntu on the other hand compiles for ARMv7 and is MUCH-MUCH faster on modern ARM SOCs.
I'm confused - the vital stats on page 2 list the OS as Android 2.1, while the end of the article says "the software team seems to have simply thrown Android 2.2 at it hoped it would stick".
Given the issues listed I doubt either version would make much difference, but which is it really?
Re: Which version?
We should have been clearer. The AC100 comes with Android 2.1. We have access to the as-yet-unreleased AC100 version of Android 2.2, but it's not what you'll get if you buy one in the shops.
Re: Which version?
In addition to the Ubuntu port, there's the possibility of porting RISC OS to the AC100.
Tosh in the water
stubbing its toes. I agree. But still glad to own one now I have Ubuntu installed on it. http://tosh-ac100.wetpaint.com/page/Ubuntu. Proprietry nvidia rocks spoiling it somewhat - no sound. Given time...
Fail. But, as Google have already stated, Android is not really suited to tablets and *books yet. Manufacturers seem to be falling over themselves to dump Android onto whatever thin, flat devices they can to try and get a run on the iPad, and failing, really quite epically.
Not the fault of the OS
I think Android is suited to tablets. But sticking a touch screen driven OS on a non-touch screen device is just asking for failure.
It's almost as bad as sticking Windows 7 on a touch screen device with no keyboard or mouse.
Typical clueless 'management -spec'ed' end product
Hardware is there, check.
Android is there, check.
Just what is it this pesky little journalist is complaining about?
Ohh, that it's literally USELESS? Who cares, I secured my bonus by delivering this thing on time and within budget...
A most strange product
I have one which I'm running Ubuntu on. It does a good job at that, and no doubt the few remaining issues will be resolved in due course. Dear El Reg, might you consider reviewing it running Ubuntu? Perhaps not quite immediately, but in a month or two.
So the strange thing is, since the crapness of Android is so obvious (and I think your 10% score is fair), why did they do it? Conspiracy theorists awake! I suspect that after the dismal failure of Linux on Atom netbooks, they have been scared off doing that again.