Surface is out and the reviews are in. Most reviewers seem impressed; Many worry about the lack of apps.
From tomorrow you’ll be able to fill that app-gap with a product sector that I’m more excited about than a Chromebook on ARM, a Nexus 7 3G or a convertible Ultrabook.
Atom-based PCs don’t exactly bring up images of advanced computing but since the netbooks died a few important things have happened. A very new and very advanced power engine, a new operating system and a break-out from the rather restrictive specifications, prices constraints and designs of the simple netbook category.
We’ve got six Clover-Trail tablets/dockables on the product database right now and we’re expecting more to pop up soon. Windows 8 provides a nice boost for this category but one of the barriers could be price. [See “Unlikely Smartbook”] European retail prices for two of these Clover-Trail tablets have already shown up and sure enough, we’re not exactly talking netbook-level pricing. Specs are interesting though.
The Samsung ATIV Smart PC (XE500T) is showing up, without docking keyboard, for just under 700 Euros. The Vivo Tab (FT810C) for 800 Euros. Both come with 64GB of storage, without any 3G.
If you’re looking for the keyboard dock you’ll need to add 100 Euro.
Many of you know I run three sites. Carrypad, the tablet-focused site. Ultrabooknews, the thin-and-light laptop site and this one, UMPCPortal. At UMPCPortal we’ve been focused on productive mobility since 2006 (almost exactly) and as you will probably know, the last few years have been hard on us. Trying to get productivity into a two-handed mobile experience has been completely ignored by mainstream manufacturers. We’ve all tried tablets of course and all been disappointed at the lack or processing power, lightweight apps and of course, the full web experience which requires a full web browser. Mozilla tried with Firefox for Android but didn’t really get there yet. Most people settled on Dolphin HD as the best of the bunch but it wasn’t anywhere near the experience needed for web-based productivity and creation.
Intel offered us some hope with Meego, an optimised Linux-based OS that included a Chromium browser…
MeeGo offers me some hope. A full internet experience and an app store but it’s something needs to mature until at least late 2011 and in fact for it to function fast enough to be productive it will need a high-end dual-core ARM or Intel Moorestown platform that will not be able to provide all-day battery life in a smartphone form-factor. [ref June 2010]
… but we all know what happened there.
And then along came the best smartbook yet. The Asus Transformer Prime has fantastic looking hardware, 18hr battery life (with leyboard dock) and some great sensor, touch and app experiences. The problem was that it also had issues when addressing productive and creative work. The apps are still thin and the browser still terrible.
But there was nothing else to choose from. Until today that is.
Chrome for Android has been launched. It’s in the Android Market for anyone with an Android Ice Cream Sandwich device and it’s fully functional. Well, it seems to be. This Beta software may have a few bugs but it represents the best step yet towards a productive handheld ‘UMPC’ solution. There will still be problems with low-quality, unstable and badly supported native apps, but Chrome on Android is going to develop fast, encourage a new market for Android tablets and enable a whole new world of desktop-quality browsing.
There are early issues. Mouseover doesn’t seem to be working well and there could be performance issues related to the (relative to laptops) lack of CPU, memory and general platform speed but these are likely to be fixed very quickly given the effort Google is putting into its browser.
Unfortunately for me, I don’t have an ICS tablet right now. I will be looking for ‘ROM’ upgrade for the Acer A500 I have here as it supports USB host (for keyboards/mice etc) and would work well as a smart, Chrome-based desktop device but that could take a few days before I get round to it. Maybe I’ll be looking for an ASUS Transformer Prime though. Given its smartbook credentials and Chrome for Android it now has the potential to span Carrypad, UMPCPortal and Ultrabooknews!
A quick note on the Android 4.0 requirement. I think it’s a brave bu neccesary move. It means that only ‘Google Android’ gets the best browser and encoruages a big shift to ICS over 2012. it might be annoying for some now but it makes absolute sense to encourage a move away from 2.x and 3.x variants and get everyone moving with ICS. When that happens, ISVs will be far more likely to invest in high-quality tablet application development and that’s where the turning point comes. Following the turning point, the niche designs will jump in too. There’s every chance that we’ll start to see UMPCs again…running Android. I know you’ll be concerned with security, apps, interfaces and such but I feel sure we’ll see those issues solved. The market for alternative designs is going to grow quickly so watch out for a fresh batch of UMPC news! It also makes Apple think hard again about a smartbook although my guess is that they have been working on one for a long time already.
Don’t forget that this app is very likely to be in development for X86 devices too. Intel will be putting massive effort into getting this optimised for Medfield-based devices. Comparing Sunspider tests, hopefuly at MWC later this month, will be fun!
I’m interested to hear your thoughts below. I’m sure we’ll have a good discussion.
Noted – There’s no Flash support. I’m not sure too many are going to have a problem with this and it sends an important message out to web developers – Stay clear of Flash!
There seems to be a problem with agent-id. I’m reading that Chrome for Android is identifying itself as a mobile browser.
The Asus Eee Pad Transformer is a very popular device and I’ve seen a number of reports of it being used in productivity scenarios. The gaps between devices like this and traditional laptops are closing and so it’s no surprise that people are testing the limits.
Find out where these gaps are with the start of another good series over at Carrypad. The question is, is Android good enough to allow all the gaps to be closed through 3rd party software or are there jobs that will always need doing on a PC?
UMPCs, we’re not shy to say, are still important. They’re becoming more important too as people realise that there is a life for devices between 4 and 10 inches. UMPCs offer something that you can rely on to give you a high quality work and web experiences with the minimum of brick walls and maximum compatibility and flexibility.
Unfortunately for pro-mobile fans, the number of true UMPCs has dropped to near-zero with only large-screen windows tablets getting any sort of attention. It’s the Android and IOS tablets that are getting the lions share of attention and development funds though and we are now in a position where we need to keep an eye on the desktop and mobile worlds for solutions that could satisfy our needs.
I’ve done extensive testing and research on the smartbook market over that last 18 months with devices like the Compaq Airlife 100 and Toshiba AC100 but I haven’t found anything that I could call pro-quality. While the industrial designs and computing hardware reach acceptable levels, the immature operating systems and applications truly limit capability and introduce inefficiencies and risk.
Honeycomb, the tablet-oriented version of the Android system is the next-in-line for major testing and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is the ideal product to test it with.
Image via Laptopmag
Although I haven’t yet been able to get hold of a Transformer as my Amazon UK order was delayed to June, I have been carefully reading between the lines of the many reviews that are out there. I’m trying to get a feel for web experience, applications, keyboard usage, connectivity and battery life along with an idea about how those ‘HD’ apps are coming on.
So far, I am not seeing an acceptable solution being presented.
While a lot of reviewers seem impressed with the price and design of the tablet, keyboard and docking feature, the battery life and general usability of Honeycomb, there seem to be issues with Web (once again, not the full desktop internet experience) performance and applications. It’s the latter that concerns me the most as it will take the longest to fix and relies on a healthy Honeycomb ecosystem to even seed. I’m also not so impressed with the price. It may be cheaper than other tablet options but it’s still an inflated price for what you’re getting. Finally, at 1.3KG, it weighs 130gm more than the Aspire One 522 that i’m using right now that has nearly double the CPU processing power and 3D graphics that just don’t compare along with an OS developed for professional use and a huge range of professional software available.
Keyboard – Good ID
In general, the keyboard and mousepad are getting good reports. A good level of mousepad/OS integration ensures that the unit is not relying on touch input when docked. The battery in the keyboard unit is used to recharge the tablet battery (a very inefficient, but cheap, way of using an extended battery) and the USB ports are of limited use. Mass storage and external mice are supported but don’t exptect to be able to plug in a webcam, usb headset or many other common USB accessories that ‘just work’ under Windows.
Battery Life – So-So.
In total, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer returns around 9hrs in tablet mode. Some reviews are reporting down to 6hrs. Usage in docked mode is going to depend on whether you dock the device when the tablet is fully charged as the battery in the docking station will try to re-charge the battery in the tablet while also powering the system. The battery to battery re-charge process is going to cost 20-30% of energy. From results I’ve seen the maximum you can expect from the docked unit is about 16hrs which, with a 48wh battery, shows that ARM-based devices ultimately rely on screen, wifi and engineering to get the best out of them, just like X86-based devices. I haven’t seen any screen-off, wifi on figures yet (always-on mode) but am hoping for at least 4 days. If the Transformer is very well engineered, that figure should go up to the 7-10 days range. ElectricPig indicates that the Transformer loses about 10% of battery with Wifi on in a screen-off, syncing on scenario. Assuming that’s about 10hrs of idle, it indicates a reasonable always-on, Wi-Fi connected capability of about 4 days (tablet only) or about 6 days (tablet and dock.) That beats the Toshiba AC100 my a big margin.
Web Experience – Not FIE
Tabbed browsing is nice, but many reviewers are focusing on this , and the Flash 10.2 experience as a big step forward. For productivity users, these are entry-level features. While thre aren’t too many details in the reviews I’ve seen so far there are indications that the quality of the browsing experience is compromised. I’m particularly interested to hear how Google Docs works with the keyboard. AnandTech reports ”occasional issues’ that include a poorly formated Reddit front page.
Applications – Back to the Smartphone
As I mentioned above, this is the major issue for Android Smartbooks and it’s not one that manufacturers can solve. It will only resolve itself when Honeycomb gets traction, proves numbers and drives teams to develop quality software over a period of months. At the current rate of change in software, we’don’t expect Honeycomb to offer anything like a serious 3rd party productivity application range until at least late in 2011.
Other issues to consider.
No 3G / 4G
No VGA output (for projectors, monitor compatibility)
Video playback not smooth (as reported by a number of website reviews.)
Some reviews are reporting speed slow-down after a couple of hours of use.
Sidenote: The Anandtech review is an interesting read that explores the idea of continuous client and smartphone-based modular solutions.
For smartphone and tablet users, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer must appear quite exciting. It did for me too but I knew there would be issues. The issues of application availability will haunt every attempt at an Android productivity device for at least the next 6 months, probably longer, but if manufacturers fail to capitalise on battery life possibilities and if Google can’t update Honeycomb to finally support a Chrome-like internet experience, there will be limited reason to accept these attempts into the realms of profesional environments and little enthusiasm for creating rich, high quality, professional applications. The few points mentioned above are obvious failings but there are other hidden items that will rise to the surface as people truly start to try these devices out for productivity. Think about multi-user capability for example. Disk encryption, memory upgrade, VGA ports and 3G support are just a few more to consider.
I’m disappointed in the battery life reports, video playback issues, weight and web experience that I’m reading about so far. So much so that i”ve decided to skip the Eee Pad Transformer. I will try to get hold of a review sample but it won’t be something I’ll take on board into my work life. Like the Airlife, AC100, Atrix and other attempts, there’s so much missing, so many brick-walls, so few applications that I don’t expect any major progress until later in the year. The Transformer proves the point that Honeycomb can move in the right direction and as a tablet device, it may well be good value but for pro-mobile users, I’m not recommending it.
I’m a smartbook fan. I want to see the netbook form factor extended right down into the mobile operating space by including always-on, location services, sharing, dynamic user interfaces, a huge app store and access to music, video and books as well as apps.
I also want to see the applications on the mobile operating systems mature to the point where I can run my business on them and right now, one of the most interesting mobile operating systems, and one that has made more progress than any other crossing the chasm into productivity and desktop worlds is iOS. The problem is, I don’t like the restrictive nature of iOS products for productivity work so I’m personally very excited about where Honeycomb is going.
I’ve tested Android 1.x on the clamshell Compaq Airlife 100 and 2.x on the Toshiba AC100 so to follow-on I’ve ordered an Asus Eee Pad Transformer which is running 3.x. Not only will this be a great smartbook test, it will also be the first 10” ARM-based tablet that I’ve owned. With the Galaxy Tab so woven into my daily life, it will be interesting to see if the Transformer has any impact there.
Through my social circle I see that there’s quite some interest in the Transformer. I think we all know it’s NOT going to be a business device from day one but the point is, it’s an important device to test and one that could mature well through 2011.
I’m unlikely to be one of the first to get one as high-street availability has already been confirmed in the UK and I won’t be picking mine up until next week when I visit my folks in the UK.
Naturally I’ll be setting up a LIVE REVIEW for when I get back home and this is provisionally planned for Friday 22nd April at 2100 Berlin time. We’ll go over the device and run through some Honeycomb tests, video playback tests, battery life tests and a whole suite of application tests including some productivity applications. I’m also interested to see how the USB host functionality is implemented.
I paid 429 UK Pounds for the 16GB version with docking station that should start to ship on the 18th. That’s not cheap compared to the Toshiba AC100 but it’s a reasonable start price. You’ll see this for 25% less in a very short period of time I’m sure. There’s no 3G though so it means I’ll be carrying my MiFi or, strangely, the Galaxy Tab as a 3G hotspot.
16hrs battery life in 1KG is a stunning runtime figure but if the OS and applications can’t deliver, those 10 extra hours are worth nothing!
Stay with me, here on Carrypad, for testing next week.
Friday is turning out to be a good day. The iPad 2 launches in Europe (although I still don’t see any official pricing in Germany) and it’s my Birthday. Now, I hear that the Eee Pad Transformer is launching too. Decisions decisions!
The Eee Pad Transformer is an interesting product because it takes the idea of the smartbook one step further. It uses the Honeycomb operating system (which could enable a far superior laptoping experience than 2.x ever did) and it uses a keyboard mechanism that can be un-docked to allow tablet-only usage.
I tested the Transformer out at mobile world congress in February (video below) and wasn’t too impressed with the weight but full USB ports made me wonder if ASUS are building some nice USB hosting capabilities. The weight with the dock also seems a little over the top. With connectors and an additional battery in the keyboard unit, I’m expecting the total weight to tip 1KG. The unit I tested wasn’t running Honeycomb.
Pricing has me a little worried. The price for the tablet seems OK at 399 Euro although confirmation is still needed on storage and 3G capability. 32GB and 3G included is what I’m assuming at this stage. The price of the dock could add 120 Euro to that. The price isn’t too bad when compared with high-end tablets but when compared with the Tegra-2 based Toshiba AC100 smartbook (under 300 Euro with 3G) you get the idea that there’s a huge margin being added here and that the price should come down by at least 100 Euros over time.
The March 25th launch is for Taiwan only at this stage and will only include pre-order. Actual availability around the world is still unknown but we’ll probably hear more on Friday.
I’ve downloaded, installed and tested and can confirm that not only are you getting V2.2 of Android with a noticeable performance boost but you’re also getting Flash support which finally enables a reasonable YouTube experience. There’s also the Toshiba market for apps, music and radio and, of course, some nice features in 2.2 like the 3G hotspot feature for those of you with 3G versions. I’ve also noticed an increase in compatibility with sideloaded applications. Streaming audio through applications like Last.FM now work and there’s better graphics compatibility. Previously, many games just weren’t working.
One of the big question marks though is about standby. Original versions of the AC100 would often jump out of standby, an almost off state, and never fall back into it meaning batteries would be dead by the morning. I’ll be testing that tonight [Update: This morning it was still in standby. More testing needed thought] but in the meantime I’ve been checking to see if Toshiba have improved the active-idle battery life. They haven’t. Screen off idle, with Wifi on and apps able to use the Internet results in about 2.5w continuous drain. That is, in ARM-platform terms, quite embarrassing for Toshiba. I’m not able to test Internet-connected idle mode with the 3G here. [Previous testing here] In-use battery life still seems to be around the 6hr mark which is good for 800gm of device with a 25Wh battery but they really should have worked on the active-standby figures before the product went out of the door.
Performance increase is noticeable with browsing, UI actions and measurable in Sunspider and other tests. Sunspider results have improved from 4800 seconds to 3900 seconds – a 19% improvement. Quadrant results are at the 2000 mark and Linpack returns 34MFlops, an impressive figure.
So does it bring the AC100 back from the dead? I just had a look at the prices and I certainly think there’s value here now. The model I have under my fingers right now has just broken through 200 Euros in Germany. That’s with 512MB of RAM and 8Gb of storage, USB OTG and 1080P playback (with uPnP support) a good keyboard, about 6hrs battery life (10+hrs max) in an 800gm chassis. You don’t get Google applications (I would happily pay 50 Euros for that enhancement) and you’ll pay 40 Euros for the addition of 3G but still, that’s a great deal. Remember that a Novatel MiFi costs at least 150 Euro and you certainly can’t type docs, play music and 1080p video or Angry Birds on that! It’s not a netbook, but it’s a good value gadget.
I captured my download, install and testing on camera this afternoon:
How easy is it to work for a day on a PC. Easy! How about writing 1,000 words and carrying less than 1KG of equipment that costs under €1000? How about doing it while traveling and not carrying any mains adapters?
Next week I have three days on my own and I plan to get away from the home office. I’m not sure where I’m going but I do know that I will be setting myself a challenge – to finish my e-book which is now nearly a year past my planned schedule. I’m also going to throw in some other targets too and it should be interesting for you to watch. Can I work for a full day carrying less than1KG of equipment worth less than €1K.
This isn’t going to be easy because what I’m talking about here is a full mobile office with the following features:
‘PC’ with email, web browser, document editing capabilities, storage, screen, keyboard and Wifi
3G internet connectivity
Camera (minimum 2MP)
Video camera (MIN VGA)
MP3 player and headphones
The PC alone is quite the challenge as you’ll see from an article I wrote in the summer. Finding a netbook under 1KG is impossible so you’re left with specialist devices or ARM-based tablets and ‘smart books’ and even then, adding the additional capabilities (obviously via a smartphone) and ensuring you’ve got enough battery power is something i’ve never been able to do in 1KG before. My reporting kits of the past have rarely got close to 1KG. This one was an exception.
I’ve set a few ground rules which also narrow down the choice.
Screen: 7” or more. In my experience, trying to work efficiently on anything less is going to result in stress, aches and embarrassment as you crouch over the device to read the screen or enlarge the text so much that you haven’t got enough working space. For most people 9 or 10” is entry level.
Battery life: 5 hours. A full day would be regarded as 8hrs or more by most but there are only a few devices around that could deliver more than that in an always-connected, screen-on scenario. The iPad springs to mind as the #1 choice in terms of battery life but I need to consider other, more business-oriented options.
Document editing capabilities includes offline text input and formatting capabilities with embedded images and links. In summary: offline rich text.
Connectivity does not have to be on-board and can be provided via BT tethering, 3G dongle , MiFi or free wifi connectivity.
Charging: No re-charging. Spare batteries allowed if they fit in the 1K allowance
Multiple test rigs per day. I know that some of the solutions won’t last for more than 5hrs. In order to get the most out of my 3 days, i’ll be taking multiple ‘rigs’ so that I can switch to a new setup if needed.
4 Setups will be tested. If I can’t get a rig working in under 1KG, I will make it as near as possible using the resources I’ve got.
As I mentioned, there isn’t a netbook out there that can do this so we’re looking at UMPCs. The Viliv S7 (830gm), Sony Vaio P11 (632gm) and Viliv X70 EX (660gm) head up the list of PCs that I could choose from although there’s a good chance that the Tega V2 will turn up here in time for the test. That would be an interesting one at 800gm and with a nice 10” screen. Adding a keyboard and the phone would probably take it to 1.2KG though. We’ll have to see. There are some other non-windows devices too. The Toshiba AC100 runs for 7hrs and weighs only 800gm. I would only need to add a smartphone to complete that setup in under 1KG. The Viewsonic Viewpad 7 would be a very very interesting option. It would only need a keyboard to complete the set-up as it already has GPS, 3.2MP cam, navigation, voice, SMS and 3G built-in. I will try my best to get hold of one of these for the test. There’s the iPad to consider too but getting a stand and keyboard in under 1KG could be a challenge. I’ll see what I can do about getting an iPad setup for the test.
The 1K challenge starts on Saturday and I’m thinking of adding one more ‘k’. Can I travel 1000 kilometers while I do this?
Naturally this project is open to sponsorship. If you’re a reseller of mobile computing solutions and want to put your name or products forward, please contact me. German resellers, I’d especially like to meet you! Lass uns zusammen ein bier trinken! Get in contact with me via the contact form available through the link on the site header
Help / Meet-and-greet.
If you live in Germany/UK/Netherlands and have a Vaio P11, an iPad 3G or another solution you want me to consider, (UK or German OS please) get in contact with me via the contact form available through the link on the site header. If you live in Duesseldorf, Hannover, Stuttgart or some other major city and you fancy a mobile blogging meet-up, let me know and I’ll try to plan it in.
Stay tuned to UMPCPortal for more information on the 1K challenge later this week.
You might have caught my excited tweets and posts about getting Ubuntu running on the AC100 over the last few days and if so, you might be starting to realize how close these ‘smart’ books or ARM-based netbooks, effectively smartphones in a netbook-style case, are getting to the netbook experience. The overall experience is certainly not ready for the average customer but take this video as a demonstrator that 1) Processing power is significantly better with dual-core devices to the point where Web browsing is not slow 2) A productive experience is possible through Linux applications 3) that the AC100 is well positioned as a device for further hacks. MeeGo, Android 3.0, Chrome OS and other Linux builds included. At 800gm for 4hrs productivity, Intel need to take note. I’m definitely looking forward to see if the same hacking process works on the Toshiba Folio 100 tablet.
Before you watch the video though, note that there are problems.
512MB RAM – Ubuntu 10.10 netbook build needs to be a lot slimmer for the AC10. 512MB might work if swap space was fast (not on the SD card.)
Battery life – The AC100 is lasting 4 hours but should last 6 or more. A big part of the problem is the lack of screen brightness control – it’s on 100%, all the time. Also, Linux is very uncontrolled when it comes to networking and disk access too and with 152 process running (gulp!) I doubt there’s a moment’s silence for the silicon inside the device. Take the iPad as a benchmark in this area because with a similar size screen and battery it’s getting 10hrs or more.
You can’t run a full Linux build from an SD card without disk access blocking from time to time.
No sound, video, 3D graphics support or WebCam at the moment as far as I can tell.
Installation requires flashing the BootROM of the AC100 – A risky process
Again, this isn’t a solution that anyone could use on a day-to-day basis yet but I regard this as a seminal moment for ARM-based ‘netbooks’ because it’s the first time I’ve ever been able to efficiently run my desktop work processes (Web apps, blogging, image editing, twitter) on an ARM-based device. With the doors open now, I expect the AC100 to get picked up by quite a few hackers in the coming weeks and for progress to accelerate even faster. My testing continues but i’ll refrain from posting further articles on Carrypad unless anything significant happens.
Despite the incomplete nature of these ‘smart’ books I’ve been testing, I’m still positive that the form factor and ARM-based processor has a lot to offer and that it will greatly influence the netbook of the future. People will say that the smart ‘book’ is dead but I guarantee that if Apple were to release a MacBook iAir running on iOS, the worlds axis would change and it would become the next best thing. Smart ‘books’ aren’t dead, they’re just gestating.
I’ll be continuing to test various devices with various operating systems and applications and in this video you’ll see me test a number of applications that are working out well on the AC100. Many applications don’t work well but the nice thing about a marketplace with thousands and thousands of applications in it is that you have options. All applications shown have been sideloaded using this method.
I have a 3G AC100 on order and am looking forward to new Froyo-based firmware soon so stay tuned for more testing.
In the video you’ll see Documents To Go, NewsRob, Raging Thunder, Wave Blazer, Astro, WordPress, Touiteur, Google Maps, Photoshop Express and XiiaLive.
Fresh from the DHL van it’s the first Tegra2 device to hit the ground. Most will be calling the Toshiba AC100 [details] a smartbook and it certainly creates a smart impression. Super thin and light with a great-looking 1024×600 glossy screen and nice user interface. This may be running AOS (Android Open Source) 2.1 but it doens’t look like it. Toshiba have done a resonable job of filling in the gaps.
Plastics are a little on the cheap side but the keyboard is good as is the mouse-pad with scroll area and dual mouse buttons. One point to note is that the video player, while blowing me away with a 1080p playback and ability to handle a 8.5Mbps WMV and 6.5Mbps DivX out of the box, is somewhat buggy. Three lock-ups (requiring reboot) in the first hour left me feeling that the firmware was rushed out for IFA. Fortunately, Toshiba include an OTA firmware upgrade app so i’m going to be checking it regulaly.
Oh, the media player suppors uPnP devices too.
Finally: YouTube Unboxing Video now available.
We’ve also got three much longer videos from the live session:
Tegra2 testing begins tonight because within the next few hours I expect the AC100 to be delivered.
The Toshiba AC100 is the first Tegra2 device to hit outside Japan and only the second true smartbook to hit any global market. We’ve already reviewed the Airlife 100 so now its time to see if Toshiba and Tegra can bring anything new to the table.
Oh, and of course we’ll be running an Email Notification Rave so bring a few beers and join in. “‘Here come the emails!”
We’re twitching at every movement outside our door while waiting for our own Toshiba AC100 today (Note: Possible live video review session tonight – stay tuned.) but at least we’ve got something to keep us occupied in this unboxing video from Netbooknews today. It’s known as the Dynabook AZ in Japan but it’s the same device as the AC100 were expecting.
Some important things to note from the unboxing and the article:
1 – Opera Mobile (not Mini) is included. Opera Mobile is not generally available for Android but Toshiba appear to have had it built specially for the AC100. Opera Mobile sounds like it is providing a better internet experience than the stock browser. I’m certainly a fan of Opera Mobile and will be interested to test it out.
2 – There are indicator lamps on the outside of the device. Useful for notifications when closed (and online) (via JKKMobile, see fun video below.)
3 – Toshiba are working on Android version 2.2 ‘soon’ which is excellent news.
Update: We just got a shipping notice. It should be here in 24-48 hours!
I took a second to check an Amazon.co.uk order for the Toshiba AC100 this morning and alas, there’s no exact delivery date estimate. Checking over on the German Austrian comparison site Geizhals, it was a different story.
German website Geizhals reports that one reseller is ready to send within 24hrs.
This is the Non-3G version (Model number PDN01E-001016GR,suspected UK version with QWERTY keyboard) that we’re looking at but even without 3G, we think it’s worth a shot to get the first retail Tegra2 device so we’ve ordered one and have put the MiFi on charge! If we’re lucky, very lucky, we might get it before the end of the week. We’ll keep you posted on progress.
I’m quite excited about this one. We’ve got one on order and the more I read about it, the more excited I get. Yes, it won’t have any deep and meaningful productivity apps and yes, Android on a netbook style device will feel strange but with 8hrs battery life in a stylish sub-900gm package, a week or more standby power (and an estimated 2-3 days always-connected ) a high brightness display, dual-core ARM Cortex A9 and built-in 3G for 369 Euros (4-week delivery on the 3G version,) it’s something I just have to test out. It’s likely to have some of the issues of the similar Android-powered Airlife 100 [review]but I’m adamant that this concept has legs. As soon as someone brings out an always-on ‘smart’ netbook with the right applications, it will start a new chapter in laptop computing. No more shutdown!
I’ve just posted a two-part article over at UMPCPortal that looks at some recent news, looks forward to some expected products, highlights some events in September and provides a general update of where we are today in the mobile handheld world. Much of it focuses on consumer products that you readers of Carrypad are interested in.
In the article I talk about the Huawei S7, RIMs Blackpad, Samsungs tablet, the Smartbook Surfer, Interpad (new in the database,) Eking, the Huawei E583C hotspot, ICD, Notion Ink and a bunch of devices that are on our ‘watchlist.’ We’re also going to IDF and IFA events in September so you’ll see some information about that too.