Hands on: Toshiba new S$639 AS100 tablet

November 9th, 2010 | by Alfred Siew

Toshiba today joined a growing list of manufacturers rolling out alternatives to Apple’s iPad tablet in Singapore, bringing the S$639 AS100 tablet, as well as the S$699 AC100 laptop-like Android portables to these shores.

The more interesting of the two here, the AS100, comes with a 10.1-inch capacitive screen, has an Nvidia Tegra chip and runs Android 2.2 – the minimum requirements needed to match rival offerings from Archos and Samsung.

[Techgoondu is giving away a Toshiba AS100 here. Find out how to win.]

Other specs that matter: the AS100 is Wi-Fi only, has a front-mounted 1.3-meg camera, and has an SD (not MicrosSD) card slot that complements the rather meagre 8GB onboard storage.

Just how different is the Toshiba gizmo, which we first saw at the IFA show in Berlin two months ago, from the rest of the crowd? Here’s what I found from a quick hands-on with it.

What I like:
>> Connectivity
First off, I like the fact that the Tegra 250 chip is connected to a handy HDMI port that you can plug into a TV or AV receiver to play back movies. During demos here at the launch today, we watched a Full HD trailer of Transformers and both the video and sound on the big screen don’t betray any hint of lag or blur.

I also like it that the AS100 has a USB 2.0 port that you can hook up to a PC to transfer files directly. Missing on the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, this feature even lets you connect a regular keyboard and type away.

>> Big  screen
Unlike the Galaxy Tab, which sports a 7-inch screen, this AS100 comes only with a 10-1-inch screen, which is great for reading e-books and websites on the go. It helps too that it is packed in a slim 14mm frame that is no thicker than a small paper file.

>>  Relatively speedy
I tried a couple of demo sets which were not particularly impressive with the screen and soft-touch buttons a little laggy, but on another machine – the one that I am using for this hands-on/review, things run smoothly like on a regular Android 2.2 phone. That means no lag in between programs and when swiping through the photo gallery.

>> Support for Flash-based sites
You still have to download the Flash application on your own – Toshiba doesn’t ship it with the device, for some reason. But with Android 2.2 onboard, you’re guaranteed support for websites that use Flash, which number in the thousands, so you don’t miss any of the rich multimedia offered online. The longer Apple continues to deny out-of-box support for Flash sites, the more people will look to alternatives like the AS100.

What I don’t like:
>> Missing features: GPS, Android Market
Some things are obviously missing here, especially in the form of GPS. This severely limits applications that use the feature, for example, ones that tag your photos according to location, not to mention maps.

At the same time, there is no native Android Market support, so you have to “sideload” your apps, like what you would do with the Archos tablets and other Wi-Fi-only Android variants for now.

>> Plain vanilla software suite
Out of the box, there are really not many applications for the user to explore. This would have been okay if Android Market was part of the package, but without it, newbies who don’t have the savvy to look for apps or e-books elsewhere will find it hard to get started doing much except surf the Web or play the few games included in it.

>> No pinch and zoom in browsers
Strangely, though multi-touch is supported, say, in the picture gallery, both the default browser and Toshiba-bundled Opera browser do not seem to support pinch and zoom. I tried a number of machines at the launch and found this rather strange. Sure, you can still zoom in and out with the icon at the bottom of the screen, but hey, why is the cool feature not enabled?

>> Shiny screen
Yes, the iPad may have the same shiny body, but why replicate it on the AS100? Just play with the AS100 for a short while and you’ll see your fingerprints smudge the pretty screen in no time. This doesn’t bode well when you hear news about people passing on viruses while swiping on others’ tablets.

Bottomline:
Costing over S$100 more than the similarly-spec’d but sleeker S$499 Archos 101, the AS100 has a fight on its hands.

Plus, compared to the more expensive but better packaged Samsung Galaxy Tab, Toshiba’s offering has no native Android Market support or a list of useful software out of the box. So, the AS100 is stuck in between a budget tablet and a well-polished one.

For geeks, these are not deal breakers, of course, since they would know how to get their apps manually via sideloads. Indeed, they might prefer the lack of any software they do not use.

But the biggest problem for Toshiba is its price. If it were cheaper, it would compete much better with similarly spec’d tablets out now, and soon from the likes of Acer and Asus as well. As it were, Toshiba would have to get early adopters to buy in before a deluge of competitors rush in with even cheaper offerings.

Specifications
Model Toshiba AS100 Toshiba AC100
CPU Nvidia® TegraTM 250, 1GHz
Operating System AndroidTM 2.2
Display 10.1” capacitive multitouch widescreen display with 1,024 x 600 pixel resolution

Rotation of displayed content on the screen by accelerometer

10.1” WXGA Clear SuperView LED backlight display with 1,024×600 pixels
Storage 8GB Flash Storage 16GB Flash Storage
Connectivity WLAN (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)
Built-in RAM 512MB
Ports 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x Mini USB 2.0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm Headphone/Mic, SD/MMC Card Reader
Video 1080p video playback (with HDMI), Supports Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1#
Camera 1.3MP
Dimension 281mm x 181mm x 14mm 262.05 x 189.8 x 14/21 mm
Weight 750g 870g


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29 Comments

  1. After 2 months with the AS100 Im still unable to install flash.
    Downloaded many versions including from the toshibavip but it will hang
    always after clicking on the installation on a loading page titled html
    viewer.
    http://www.tabletpcinformation.com/

  2. Jonathan M says:

    Now, Toshiba present new Android tablet and can see spec and reviews at http://www.tablatpccomparisonblog.com

  3. Jin Jin says:

    Well if you watch the video preview of latest Toshiba tab on Android 3.0, it is really cool, seeing the specs in http://www.best-tabletpccomparison.com really drag me into getting my first non iOS based Android tablet.

  4. Toshiba tablets are solid devices and I have high hopes for their new Thrive as well. In looking at the specs on http://www.tabletpccomparison.com I think it’s going to scream. Can’t wait..

  5. henry says:

    i agree with you guys…WRONG PURCAHSE…no can find anywhere to install flash…no wonder they are giving it away for free…

  6. Roberto says:

    To Clare.
    Thank you for trying to help me. I also purchased mine at harvey norman millenia. I asked for help but the girl does not know how. Ill take the time to go directly to toshiba. In my case nothing much seems to work no youtube no flash no facebook… looking for buyer at 30% discount. Interested drop me an email at robertocant@yahoo.com

  7. Clare says:

    Roberto,Maybe you would want to contact the Toshiba Support Centre at 1800-8674422, Mon-Fri: 9am – 5pm. http://www.pc.toshiba-asia.com/hotline. I am glad that i have bought my tablet from Harvey Norman, they have provided me with helpful info which i was sharing. I have been to a shop and they do not have any idea of the product at all.

  8. Roberto says:

    After 2 months with the AS100 Im still unable to install flash. Downloaded many versions including from the toshibavip but it will hang always after clicking on the installation on a loading page titled html viewer.

    How is it possible that a brand such as Toshiba came out with such a bad product and seems to not react to it? I can understand that they wanted to get on the market before end of year and be a top sale but now its time to give at least what has been promised through the marketing, ex flash player, usb compatibility, etc…

    At least Apple reacts quicky when complains from customers come out. Maybe thats why they have got their success with Iphone and IPAD.

    Toshiba if you want people to take you seriously about your digital products work on making them better if not just keep selling washing machines and air conditioned units.

  9. Clare says:

    Hi John,

    You might have missed out what i shared on 3 Dec, you will be able to download Adobe Flash Player, E-book (AldikoBookReaderPremium(1.2.9)and others from the toshibavip.com. Under APP Slide ME Android Market, you are also able to download many other applications.

  10. john says:

    AS100

    I should not of bought this:
    no ebook reader
    no flask player
    no android compatibility
    yet the promotion says otherwise
    Wish i could get rid of it
    will not recommend to my friends.

  11. Clare says:

    Yes, from Camangi under Multimedia. Is named Freedi youtube Downloader, MicroMacro version 1.12.3.1. Hope it will work for u too.

  12. Richard says:

    Clare, are you saying your YouTube works fine? If so, did you get it from Camangi? BTW, what version is your YouTube? I can get 1.0 & 1.3 but neither works.

  13. Clare says:

    You are welcome, Richard, another site i like to share would be http://www.camangimarket.com. If i am not wrong, i came across youtube from it. i will try to see if i can find it again to try downloading it.

  14. PC says:

    And what happend with Toshiba Folio 100? Is AS100 a rewamped version of the later as pictures of two look the same.

  15. Yeap(Malaysia) says:

    Me too, wrong purchase, can’t watch youtube…… and load photo very very slow.
    Always hung……

  16. Richard says:

    Thanks Clare!

    After installing Adobe AIR, removing the non-working Flash and installing the correct one from toshibavip.com, I finally got http://www.bbc.co.uk videos to show.

    Need to try out some flash games next.

    Now, if I can fix the hang on power change and Youtube, I would be a happy camper.

    Anybody got Youtube working on the AS100?

  17. Richard says:

    Bought an AS100. Big disaster! No flash! (I will try the Flash Player 10.1 from toshibavip.com tonight). No Youtube! Skyfire 3.0 video fails!

    Hangs! Occasionally fails to return from suspend/sleep! [Good part – 24 hr sleep only consumes 10~15% of battery].

    Found a seemingly repeatable way to hang it. If you switch from Ac/non-AC during sleep/suspend, the tablet will hang and require a soft reset (Press power for 6 secs, then restart/boot). This kinda defeats the main advantage of a tablet over a notebook. And having to be careful about plugging/un-plugging AC only when tablet is ON is a pain!

    I will start inquiries about returning this Sitex bought lemon for either a replacement or refund!

  18. Clare says:

    Roberto, I find that it is real quick using AS100. You can go to toshibavip.com and you will see the words in Thai but just select Android 2.2 (Froyo) on the left column. You can download many applications from App Slide ME Android Market and also APP Internet like Firefox 4, Facebook, Adobe Flash Player, etc.

  19. Nicholas says:

    3G is not really much of a big deal nowadays considering that most people have Iphone or other smartphone that can tether internet across to the tablet either thru Wifi or BT. Anyone that regretted buying the device can offer to sell me 🙂 . I am personally waiting to see if i want to grab the Archos 101 or the toshiba.

  20. button badge says:

    iPad & Galaxy Tab which both runs on sim-cards + wifi but theres different between , ipad micro sim cards for 3g internet connection . galaxy tab can use for call . i was hoping that ipad have same features like galaxy tab.

  21. Tang L.T. says:

    since e as100 is only wifi-enabled, so does e connectivity post some problems~~as compared to iPad & Galaxy Tab which both runs on sim-cards + wifi? or is it really recommended as on Digital Life to use a Mi-Fi? anyone?

  22. Bonn says:

    Roberto,

    So how you find the AS100 screen? Also what you mean by slow? Laggy in terms of usage?

  23. Roberto says:

    Also it’s very, very slow… no competition possible with Ipad. First impression after one day of usage: wrong purchase…

  24. Roberto says:

    Just purchased the AS100 today. No way to watch videos from youtube. Keep saying need to update to flash 10 but I can’t find any download for Android in Adobe website or others. Please help.

  25. Alfred Siew says:

    Hi Claude, I believe it’s listed as S$499, ie Singapore dollars. That is about US$385, as I write.

    http://www.xe.com/ucc/convert.cgi?Amount=499&From=SGD&To=USD

  26. Claude says:

    You have the Archos 101 listed as $499 but it really costs $299 for the 8gb model and $349 for the 16gb model. I found these prices on Archos official US website as well as on their FaceBook page.

  27. Alfred Siew says:

    @louis, as this is a hands-on test on the event, I can’t say for certain.

    @aie, I noticed that, on the Android menus, they usually perform steadily between screens, except when the Opera browser is loaded (it eats up dozens of megabytes).

    The screen could also have been more responsible, plus, and this is a big thing for many users, I tried loading Angry Birds and there was no video! Toshiba needs to get it fixed very soon.

  28. aie says:

    Hi,

    Can you please clarify the the ‘relatively speedy’ statement? I’ve tried one unit yesterday but it is not that speedy. What’s the main difference between the slow units and the more speedy unit that you have tested? Did you have upgraded the software?

  29. louis says:

    Is the battery life problem for AC100 reported at carrypad.com resolved?

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