Toshiba's Android AC100 smart companion, a Tegra 2 powered answer to the iPad

By Abhinav Lal | Published on 27 Jun 2010
Toshiba's Android AC100 smart companion, a Tegra 2 powered answer to the iPad

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Toshiba claims its DNA is all about innovation & quality, and to prove it, the Japanese company has released three very intriguing devices around the 25th of June, a date that marks the launch of the T1100 in 1985, and Toshiba’s 25th anniversary of laptops. We’ve already seen two of these, with the Libretto W100 and Portege R700, and now we see the Android & Tegra 2 powered AC100 smart companion.

Offering a smooth transition across the difference in visual real estate from a phone to a tablet/clamshell (just like iPad does for the iPhone); Toshiba’s 10.1-inch screen AC100 mobile internet device gives Android smartphone users the opportunity to bridge the gap.

However, the AC100 MID and an Android smartphone crucially differ in one regard, the presence of a hardware keyboard. Android 2.1 as a framework is built for a multi-touch interface, along with 4 dedicated buttons. By choosing to go in for the laptop form factor, engineers at Toshiba challenged themselves to modify the Android OS to conform to a keyboard, and in the process, have heavily customized it.

The Toshiba AC100 will also be one of the Tegra 2 first devices to hit the market, and the world will look on to see if the SoC can perform to its potential. This also gives the AC100 a one-of-a-kind status of being the only 3G capable-Google Android-Nvidia Tegra-laptop around, and makes it much more powerful than its (albeit tablet but) counterpart device, the iPad, in almost all departments. It features a 10.1-inch LED backlit screen, 8GB NAND flash memory, 512MB RAM, 1.3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.1, full 1080p video, SD card reader, USB & HDMI port, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, and a full size keyboard.

The AC100 smart companion will operate in Always-On mode just like the iPad, but offer a slightly lesser 8 hours of mixed browsing-video playback battery life, with a seven day standby time. Users will have access to a variety of applications and widgets from a separate source (for now) than the Android Marketplace, apart from the many pre-installed applications, such as Opera Mobile, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Fring, a MS Office document editor, an email client, and the Toshiba Media Player. Users will also be able to set up to 5 homescreens that can be also be made to change with work and life profiles and GPS positioning. The Opera Mobile browser has probably been chosen over the Android WebKit-browser simply to avoid touch issues.

Calling it “building from the ground up”, Toshiba’s decision to devise a hardware keyboard solution for the Android platform is certainly still puzzling, perhaps more so, that they have chosen to do away with the touchscreen completely. This, after they showed off their touch engineering ability with the dual-touchscreen mini-Win7-notebook, the Libretto.
The Toshiba AC100 smart companion will release in Q3 of this year, starting with Europe, Middle East, and Africa. An Android 2.2 update will be available shortly as well, which will give it full Flash 10.1 support.

Abhinav Lal

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