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Toshiba AC100 - Multimedia, Performance and Verdict

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell


Our Score


Review Price £299.00

Up to this point we've painted a dim view of the day-to-day AC100 experience, so let us redress the balance a little. Yes, there are limitations and oddities to contend with, but on a basic level it's a perfectly usable machine. General operation is responsive, and the machine delivers handsomely on its promises of 1080p video playback.

Feed it a supported format, such as an h.264 MOV video, and the AC100 copes perfectly with high bit-rate video. It's an extremely impressive feat considering most netbooks generate unwatchable slideshows with such content, even if the 1,024 x 600 resolution screen can't do such splendour true justice - hence the HDMI port. Given Tegra can handle Flash video as well, it's a shame the chosen version of Android doesn't support it. Another limitation is the inability to play MKV files.

While nothing special, the AC100's keyboard is a decent one. Its layout, though a little cluttered in some areas, is logical and the key actions accurate enough for occasional typing duties. It's a shame the touchpad doesn't support multi-touch, however, a significant oversight given the navigation advantages (e.g. pinch to zoom for photos, two-finger swipes for switching home screens) that could have resulted.

Battery life is another major plus point. We set our usual netbook battery life test, where we run a standard definition video on constant loop at 50 per cent brightness, running at 9am and the AC100 was only just coming to a halt at 6pm when we were leaving the office: that's nine hours of video playback. An extremely impressive result, albeit one we were expecting.

Such prowess goes a long way to excusing some of the AC100's less redeeming aspects, but it doesn't dissuade the feeling this is a work in progress, suck it and see kind of product. Its lack of Flash support is particularly debilitating considering the paucity of native apps, the latter of which makes the 3G version the more desirable of the two versions. That said such a decision must be balanced against the need for a data contract of some kind, a cost which will soon add up.


On paper the AC100 is a tempting alternative to a netbook, mainly due to its incredible slimness, portability and battery life. However, while 1080p video playback is a great headline grabbing feature, the AC100 isn't as accomplished a computing machine as a netbook. In time, and with the right OS, it could be a winner, but not at present.

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Neil B

September 21, 2010, 2:43 pm

Very interesting review, I can see the point of this kind of device more than a tablet to be honest. The problem with this though is it will live or die on the strength of the available apps (more so than a smartphone). I like the fact that it is relying on you having your media on an SD card. You can watch your movies / listen to your music on this device for the flight, then whip out your SD card and put it in your MP3 player when you're at your destination.


September 21, 2010, 2:49 pm

Nice balanced write-up.

This is an interesting development. Certainly some potential here, but the lack of apps is worrying on many of these niche Android devices that don't meet Google's minimum Android Store requirements.

This needs to be addressed - and quickly - to make Android an attractive option in the consumer space beyond Smart-Phone devices.

A walled garden for app purchases makes sense for Apple - not sure it's quite so clear-cut for Google... can see arguments both for and against here. But the bottom line is that any general purpose device needs a healthy supply of apps and a vigorous community of developers that can target a wide spectrum of device types with minimal hassle (e.g. avoiding having to get their apps approved in a dozen different app stores).


September 21, 2010, 3:16 pm

If this were running a flavour of linux i'd snap it up.


September 21, 2010, 3:58 pm

Okay, how come this cost 1/3 the cost of the tables (from Samsung)? And why can't a OEM come up with a similarly priced tablet?!!!


September 21, 2010, 4:00 pm

@piesforyou, it is :)


September 21, 2010, 4:04 pm

@Ash: Because the quality of hardware in the Samsung is on another level. Maybe not quite so high a level as to justify the price but higher nonetheless.

There are tablets that are as cheap. The Archos 7 Internet Tablet for instance.


September 21, 2010, 4:31 pm

Android was never designed to be used on anything other than phones. Shoehorn it onto a computer and it works, sure, but why would anyone express surprise when it doesn't work very well?

What I find even more surprising is why a manufacturer would bother with this, when Google themselves have said that they are creating another OS (Chomium) expressly for the purpose of providing a cheap online based computer! I guess they are just trying to beat google at their own game, but it's so futile.

I think the concept will work fine with the right OS, but Android's not it!


September 21, 2010, 5:40 pm


How much better are the components? This has a dual core processor while the tab doesn't. Even if the Tab is markedly better hardware is it worth 2.5 of these at £600+?

This gives me hope that a fairly decent tablet could be made for £300-£400. Maybe not top quality but more than good enough.

Hopefully once 3.0 comes out support for non-phone form factors will improve markedly, along with market compatibility.


September 21, 2010, 5:50 pm

Can you comment on how likely an upgrade to 2.2 will be, by either Toshiba or someone like XDA?

Also.. would a simple hack like for the wifi archos', to get access to the main market not make a huge difference.

How would skyfire fare as the browser, I believe it hands off flash?

I've just recently got a samsung galaxy s, so I'm thinking either samsung tab (too pricey) or hacked archos(looking likely) or something like this(possibly..).. I would be looking to tether from galaxy s, not get another data plan..

Loving the galaxy S by the way..


September 21, 2010, 6:32 pm

One of those 'almost but not quite'

If you had a spare £250 quid to just fritter away you may think lets have a play with this.

A better OS(flash support) and a 1366 x768 resolution and i would have a punt on this.


September 21, 2010, 11:53 pm

How odd. Hasn't Ubuntu been ported to the Tegra platform? I distinctly remember reading about a hack using a couple of components from the Android SDK. It involved building from source, but surely it'd be trivial for a company like Toshiba to create an installable image for its hardware?


September 22, 2010, 1:22 am

I began reading this review looking at the rating going, "But this looks great. What's the catch?" But then of course a badly implemented Android is something I've been scared away from ever since those reviews of the Archos 5, even though I'm attracted to the lightweight one piece hardware. In fact even with flagship devices, the Android OS still looks too messy for my taste. Perhaps I've been psychologically conditioned by Apple, but I'm much more comfortable with the clean lines and repeated UI tropes of the iOS. I might give Android another year.


September 22, 2010, 6:29 am

I wanted this to be my Psion 5mx with modern bells on. But it's not. However, I applaud the effort and vision that a mainstream manufacturer has shown in trying to take a different approach to the small, portable, notebook-like device that is not a laptop but is just as useful. I miss Psion, instant-on OS, a month on two AA's, a brilliant set of burned in apps that did everything you really needed...they were just ahead of this connected time. Give me a 5mx with modern radio connections, colour and a decent browser with flash compatibility and I'm in love. I'll use a phone to phone. Surely there is mileage in an instant-on Linux OS, flash memory device, pocketable or at least baggable device that isn't trying to be a phone but is still connected to whatever wireless network is available at the time? Still, nice thinking Tosh, at least it's a bit different.


September 22, 2010, 6:39 am

The battery life is completely unsatisfactory.

Do not buy this. I am suffering currently.

There are other web pages which outline the problem within the device which drains the battery faster than a laptop.


September 22, 2010, 2:49 pm

@GoldenGuy: "Android OS still looks too messy for my taste"

The cosmetics are supposed to improve significantly with the upcoming release of Gingerbread just around the corner, but I know what you mean. It's funny, as an Android user, the home screen of iOS, with its regimented and relatively inflexible grid of icons, looks primitive and overly simplistic to me. The recent introduction of wallpapers has helped, but really I know it's just perspective. Usability is more than skin deep.

That said, this machine highlights why Android is not yet suitable for a smartbook type device. Roll on Chrome OS.


September 23, 2010, 12:12 am


I appreciate that Chris. Maybe I phrased that badly. I didn't just meant aesthetically speaking (although that is part of it and like food, I concede I am tasting first with my eyes) but the experience of navigating around each app for me actually feels a lot more varied and inconsistent than when I'm footering around the iOS. Maybe I just need to spend more time with it but it still looks a bit... well, a bit beta even in Q3 of 2010. A bit 'In House Preview Only'.

Funnily enough, from my perspective, after MS gave us years of the Vista of the mobile space in WinMo, maybe Phone 7 will be the desktop Windows 7 reboot I'm looking for, combining the openness Apple has no intention of ever providing, with a really attractive, almost OSX-like intuitive interface. Given that Phone 7 is shaping up to be the successor to Zune instead, I'm not sure how I feel about that. Like most Brits my experience with Zune is at a distance. But as I said elsewhere, whatever the feel of the OS, it's going to need to get those killer apps, like good Office integration and gaming nouse, straight out of the gate.


September 24, 2010, 10:32 pm

Will it be possible, do you think, that (in the UK, of course) BBC iPlayer videos will be able to be downloaded and watched on my HDTV via the HDMI output - also is it likely the WMV file could be played on the AC100's Toshiba Media Player?

I like the 'idea' of watching missed progs on my 40" HDTV... but how will I know if it will 'work' before I buy? Also, I assume the Android 2.2 (Froyo) will be a firmware upgrade... questions, questions... thanks for 'listening'!

Jamie Kitson

November 15, 2010, 7:09 pm

It can run ubuntu:



November 20, 2010, 2:06 pm

This machine is just begging to run Haiku.

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