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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