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Toshiba debuts ultraslim Android laptop

Toshiba's Android-based laptop is the first among top tiers to sport a dual-core ARM processor.

Toshiba announced Monday that it will ship an Android-based laptop, the first among top-tier laptop makers to sport a dual-core ARM processor.

The 10.1-inch Toshiba AC-100 runs Android 2.1 and packs an Nvidia dual-core processor. Availability in the U.S. is not clear. Toshiba

By one definition, the Toshiba AC100 (see video below) is a smartbook: an always-on, 3G-enabled Linux-based laptop using a processor based on a design from U.K.-based ARM. That term--in vogue briefly--has lost its luster, however. Principally because real, shipping smartbooks have failed to materialize.

One of the most highly touted smartbooks, the Lenovo Skylight, has never shipped despite plenty of hype earlier in the year from both Lenovo and Qualcomm--the latter was slated to make the Sklylight's silicon. (The fact that a German company disputed the smartbook trademark didn't help matters.)

And a word of caution: The 10-inch Toshiba AC100 is not yet commercially available though it's slated to ship in the third quarter in Europe. There's no word on availability in the U.S., though a Toshiba spokesman contacted Monday said U.S. availability typically comes a couple of quarters after introduction in Europe.

That said, it is a truly unique design, quite different than its Windows-Intel based Netbook cousins. The two marquee features are its Nvidia Tegra 250 processor and the Android 2.1 operating system. The Tegra 250 is a cutting-edge dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor running at speeds of up to 1.0GHz. Virtually all laptop-class ARM processors shipping to date have used a single-core central processing unit, or CPU, design. Android is Google's popular OS that has been used, to date, almost exclusively in smartphones, such as Motorola's Droid.

Another key feature is the integration of mobile broadband: the laptop is designed to be "always on" like a smartphone, needing less than a second to wake up from standby mode, according to Toshiba.

Toshiba AC100 specifications:

  • Processor: Nvidia Tegra 250 Mobile Processor (1GHz, ARM)
  • Operating system: Android 2.1
  • Memory: 512MB DDR2 (333MHz)
  • Storage: up to 32GB solid-state drive
  • Battery life: up to "8 hours constant battery life"
  • Display: 10.1-inch diagonally with LED backlight, 1,024x600 pixels
  • Communication: Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, WLAN (802.11 b/g/n), mobile broadband
  • Connectivity: 1 USB 2.0, 1 Mini USB, Card Reader (SD, MMC), HDMI
  • Camera: 1.3 megapixel Webcam with integrated microphone
  • Weight: 870g
  • Availability: third quarter of 2010 throughout Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
  • Price: unannounced but similar product in Japan will be priced at, or under, $500