Android tablets may be all the craze, but we have yet to see one fully out of production, aside from some prototypes and early builds. But what about those "smartbooks"? You know, netbooks designed to run on smartphone internals, aimed to create a perfect balance between stunning battery life and high performance. Well, there hasn't been a peep in regards to these for some time, until today. For the first time, a smartbook has surfaced, with Toshiba branding and Android 2.1, in Russia nonetheless.
The Toshiba AC100 is running a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 250 chip, 32GB SSD, 512MB DDR2 RAM, 10.1" 1024x600 Display, WiFi/Bluetooth/3G, HDMI, SD/MMC Reader, 1.3MP webcam, and weighing under 2 lbs. The AC100 will be available in Russia in Q3 for 15,000 rubles (approx. $500USD). If these specs are true, this smartbook is packing real high-performance internals, and at a decent price. Specifically, the Tegra 250 is a top-of-the-line SoC designed for smartphones, with a dual-core ARM Cortex A9, dedicated GPU, 1080p playback/encoding, and dual-display support. But how does it hold up in real-world testing? Hi-Tech.mail.ru was gracious enough to slap together a review of the world's first smartbook. And the results are, well, mixed.
First of all, battery life is probably the most important aspect for a smartbook. And under normal usage, the battery lasted around 4.5 hours, which is disappointing to say the least. Minimal usage, the reviewer noted battery could last up to seven hours. Many netbooks on the market today sport better battery life than this, and at lower prices.
What about performance? The Tegra chip doesn't disappoint. The most intensive tasks, running 720p and 1080p video, both played extremely well. According to the reviewer, however, the greatest limitation was the Android OS. The AC100 had no Market access, so any apps had to be installed from another source. Also, the reviewer described the device to being limited to "archaic" tasks like internet browsing, document viewing/editing, and media playback. And since it's running Android 2.1, there is no flash support. This makes me wonder if it would've been better to have ran a different version of Linux, like Ubuntu or Debian, on this machine.
And form factor? Looks similar to most netbooks on the market, to me. One thing's for sure: I can't wait to see the Tegra 250 chip in some smarthphones! Check out the full review here (including benchmarks), and let us know your thoughts of the future of the Android smartbook. Will it ever be a true competitor to the tablet and netbook?