back to article Toshiba AC100 Android smartbook

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 …

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  1. A. Lewis
    Linux

    Hmmmmm

    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!

    1. Steve Foster

      @Hmmmmm

      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.

      1. Anton Ivanov
        Flame

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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)

        2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
          Pint

          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.

    2. hyartep
      Troll

      meego please

      ideal for meego (netbook ux) reference hw design?

      1. Avatar of They
        Thumb Down

        Meego?

        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

  2. Jonathon Green
    Linux

    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 :-)

    --

    Jonathon,.

    1. Andy Parker 1

      Ubuntu AC100

      Good news Jonathon: it's already been done. I saw Ubuntu running on an AC100 last week at ELC 2010 and it looked great.

      http://ac100.gudinna.com/

      Enjoy,

      Andy

  3. Samuel Penn
    Unhappy

    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).

  4. Shades

    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??

  5. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Ubuntu

    If it could run Ubuntu I'd buy one tomorrow.

    1. Tim Walker
      Linux

      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)...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed

      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?

    3. Jamie Kitson

      Ubuntu Version

      As some above pointed out:

      http://ac100.gudinna.com/

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The beautifully designed and executed hardware?

    ... well maybe, apart from the crappy low-res display.

  7. Tom Chiverton 1

    So

    So that's why LE etc. are waiting for Android 3 then !

    1. Anonymous John
      FAIL

      Yes.

      If Android 2.2 isn't suitable for tablets, it certainly isn't for a smartbook.

  8. Ku...

    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.

  9. Code Monkey
    Thumb Down

    Rule #1

    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.

  10. Tim Croydon

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

  11. lurker

    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.

    1. Britt Johnston
      Heart

      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.

  12. jabuzz
    Happy

    Ubuntu already there

    Gees a 10 second Google already tells you that a ubuntu install on one of these devices is possible.

    http://ac100.gudinna.com/

    Apparently Toshiba are looking into an official port

    http://forums.computers.toshiba-europe.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=56355&tstart=0&start=76

    Personally I love mine even with the quirks.

    1. Alpha Centauri
      Unhappy

      No sound

      "Known Issues: There is currently no sound driver, so no sound will work on the ac100"

  13. bwalzer

    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.

    1. sola
      Linux

      Tegra2

      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.

  14. Lottie
    Unhappy

    Oh dear

    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.

  15. Alpha Centauri
    Linux

    Oh dear

    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.

  16. Volker Hett

    Any way to get a decent OS on that?

    I second Jonathons interest in Ubuntu but wouldn't mind Debian :)

  17. b166er

    10?

    That's a bit harsh, surely. The hardware is great according to the author, so at least 50%, no?

    1. Jason Hall

      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?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

    http://ac100.gudinna.com/README/

    http://carrypad.com/tag/ac100/

    http://forums.computers.toshiba-europe.com/forums/thread.jspa?threadID=56355&tstart=0&start=76

  19. DrXym Silver badge

    Ouch

    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.

    1. sola
      Linux

      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.

  20. tony72

    10%. Wow.

    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.

  21. gogabr

    Ubuntu and other FOSS stuff

    http://ac100.gudinna.com

    http://tosh-ac100.wetpaint.com

    Hardware support is not good so far: half the battery life, no sound. But it will get better hopefully.

  22. Geoff 25

    Meego

    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.

  23. jaduncan
    Linux

    Yeah, agreed.

    I'll buy it if it gets Debian or Ubuntu ARM on it.

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Linux

      PLUS...

      Drivers. Yes. I would too.

    2. sola
      Linux

      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.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which version?

    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?

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      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.

      1. trevj
        Thumb Up

        Re: Which version?

        In addition to the Ubuntu port, there's the possibility of porting RISC OS to the AC100.

        http://tinyurl.com/359xzvj

        http://tinyurl.com/2umxkfs

        http://www.riscosopen.org/

  25. entwhistle
    Linux

    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...

  26. Bilgepipe
    FAIL

    Oh Dear

    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.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      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.

  27. Levente Szileszky
    Thumb Down

    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...

  28. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    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.

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Linux

      Ubuntu...

      That's a good sign.

      We want to know:

      1) drivers - video, wireless, etc... How good? Source code?

      2) expansion - RAM, HDD?

      Please spill the real beans!

      1. sola
        Linux

        RAM is not likely

        I believe the RAM is not expansible at all. It is possibly soldered.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Android...

      One more thing to add.. They should NEVER have put android on this thing.. My god, what were they thinking... Ah well, so long as we can wipe it and put a real distro on...

    3. sola
      Linux

      They did it because they are idiots

      I would fire the product manager responsible for the AC-100.

      This is beautiful hardware with a completely inappropriate OS on it.

      This would be a solid success if it had come out with a factory Ubuntu 10.10.

  29. tempemeaty
    FAIL

    Beautiful hardware but Android....

    The real reason I chose net books is to take my desk top applications on the road with me. Tablets and anything else running "Android" can't do that. This leaves the Toshiba featured here in a bind. Beautiful hardware though.

  30. Goat Jam
    Flame

    Sigh

    I really want to get something that checks just a few key points

    1) It is inexpensive (which rules out apple products)

    2) It is open (which rules out apple products)

    3) It does not come pre-infected by Microsoft products (which rules out everything else)

    4) Has battery life that can't be counted in a single digit (which rules out intel processors)

    Why is it so fricking hard for manufacturers to provide such a product? Why does it seem that (apart from apple) not a single company in the world performs any real world usae testing before releasing stuff for sale? There seems to be a rule that says every thing you purchase must include at least one design flaw that makes you ask "WTF drugs were these guys on?"

    A case in point, I just purchased a Sony car radio that has a ipod/usb drive "cavity" inside it. It gave me the opportunity to use my old 120Gb ipod that had fallen by the wayside as a storage device for music in my car. I normally don't buy Sony and I sure as hell didn't like the ADD inspired screen and control layout but it was cheapish so I thought WTH and bought it on impulse.

    Now, what sort of unimaginative moron would simply rehash a UI that was cumbersome even in the bad old days of CD changers for use in a device that "allows" the user to select from hundreds of thousands of songs? Navigating to a specific Artist/Album can take minutes and there is no way you can do it while driving and even the worst traffic light intersection on my daily commute seems like a blink of an eye whilst I am trying to find Led Zeppelin IV on my head unit.

    Honestly , sometimes I think that if apple would announce a car head unit I would buy it on pre-order. At least I'd know it would include a UI designed by a squad of retarded monkeys.

    1. sola
      Linux

      I don't get it either

      A big brand like Toshiba shouldn't make such blatant mistakes like this one with Android.

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. Patrick O'Reilly

    Not As bad as 10%

    I tried one of these little beauts on Monday, it seemed ok for most things, but I agree not a total netbook replacement. I'd class it the same as an iPad.

    As others said if it runs some other distro it'd be great, as it's a very well put together piece of kit.

  33. ScissorHands
    Jobs Horns

    AC100 = Folio100 + keyb+pad ?

    So, what does it mean for the Toshiba Folio 100? At least the disconnect between an Android version made for touch-slabs and a keyboard will be gone.

    Mobile sites appearing instead of full sites are nothing new. They do that all day for iPhone, and that's the problem: they're optimized for iPhone. Once upon a time webdevs believed browser-sniffing and browser targeting were bad things, but iPhone changed all that.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heart-broken by Toshiba's cocked-up Android implementation.

    Maybe the author needs to get out more. Smoke a bit of w££d, find a beautiful girl etc.

  35. Rob Davis

    They should have waited until ChromeOS is ready

    ChromeOS - the google OS that is their Chrome web browser packaged as a complete OS is more ideal.

  36. David Lawrence
    Go

    I think I'll buy one....

    ...and put XP Home on it (if it will run) until either Android or Ubuntu are reported to be running with no glitches of any kind.

    It's a nice-looking machine, a bit ahead of its time and it won't be long before the Operating Systems catch up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Please don't

      If all you monkeys keep buying this tat WHILE IT'S STILL BROKEN - what is Toshiba going to think?

      They'll have no reason to fix the problems and keep releasing broken bits of kit?

      1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

        Re: Please don't

        > If all you monkeys keep buying this tat WHILE IT'S STILL BROKEN -

        > what is Toshiba going to think?

        A few geeks buying things to plonk Linux on isn't enough to sustain a market, so this thing is going to be abandoned soon in any case. Buy one now while you still can! Better, buy two so you have a spare!

        1. sola
          Linux

          Unfortunately, you are right

          I hope Toshibe get their act together and quickly come out with a solid Ubuntu release.

          That could save this product. Otherwise, it is dead in the water which is a pity since the hw is really nice.

    2. spencer

      Err

      Can XP Home run on ARM?

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      It's an ARM Machine

      Windows XP is Intel only so it won't run on this machine. The only Windows that might work on it is CE. There are smartbooks out there that run on Windows CE, and they work a bit better than this machine, but you will still have problems with websites serving up the mobile version.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    both persuade remote Web sites that they're running on a mobile phone

    In the generic android browser Select Options and uncheck mobile version.

    Easy as.

    It is a shame the implementaion is bad, as it looks nice. How about ubuntu?

  38. spencer
    Thumb Up

    Really want one

    I really want one, it looks sexy , it's the right size and the battery life appeals to me.

    Will probably wait and see if they sort the software out, or if the open source community fixes it for them..

  39. jason 7 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Doesnt anyone in the IT world test stuff before its put on the market?

    Why do they never just sit their mum and dad down in front of the kit and give them a list of simple tasks to do and watch/time them doing it. The mum and dad test should give you all the 'average joe' feedback you could need in 5 minutes.

    From reading the review seems that would have been apparant its a total mess from the get go.

    Did the autistic tech developers at Toshiba go "well we've gotten used to it over the 6 months we've bashed it together so everyone else should be fine!"

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not the first OS mistake by Toshiba

    For those of you that remember the Toshiba Libretto with windows 95... This looks similar to me...

  41. Chris Bidmead

    @ shades

    > "Essentially, a netbook is a device you work through rather than on."

    > What a complete and utter load of tosh!

    Just seen this. Gosh, Shades, so Microsoft's strategy worked that well for you, did it?

    When netbooks first arrived and I did my series on them here on Reg Hardware the philosophy indeed was that they should be devices you work through, out into the Cloud. Broadband was widely enough available to make this feasible, encouraging small, lightweight, low-power devices that didn't need Windows.

    Microsoft saw the danger and went into action to head this off. It did so by virtually giving away Windows XP to the netbook manufacturers and subverting the idea of a netbook. If the strategy worked, you would end up thinking of the netbook as just the same thing as a notebook, except smaller and rather unsatisfactorily powered.

    And now here you are, shades, shouting it from the rooftops. Microsoft's spin seems to have worked a treat with you.

    --

    Chris

  42. A. Coatsworth Silver badge
    FAIL

    Annnnd we have a winner!

    I don't see anything taking the Rusty Dodo award from this poor thing's hands... which is a shame, because it doesn't look half bad

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