September 10 2010
The battle to find new ways to connect to the web while on the move is warming up intriguingly.
What exactly do we now have? Laptops are ideal, but weighty to lug around. A smartphone with basic PC business functions is pocketable and indispensable for anyone who works, but still a compromise if you need to produce documents. A netbook? Lighter and smaller, but even the best are pretty slow. iPad? Well, yes, they’re an entertainment product, but a lot of people use them for business trips and leave their laptops in their soon-to-be permanent home — the desk. The iPad’s screen is a comfortable size; it has 10 hours or more of battery life; and you can type on it, either with the onscreen keyboard or an optional add-on. It’s a shame there’s no Microsoft Office for iPad, though.
There are also a few wannabe iPads — the not-bad JooJoo (www.thejoojoo.com) and the terrific Dell Streak (the iPad Nano, in effect, www.euro.dell.com), a 5in-screen tablet with a phone, which I featured on Technopolis TV when it came out in the summer.
But this menagerie of portable ways of being online is not the end of the matter. Toshiba, one of the oldest and best laptop artistes, if a bit on the boring side, has also been doing some “re-imagining”, as Apple execs refer to thinking.
The mighty Tosh’s newest products are novel. The Toshiba AC100 is an ultra-slim (14mm at its thinnest point), ultra-light (870g) netbook with a 10.1in screen and full-size keyboard, which runs Google Android rather than Windows, so is, in effect, a giant mobile phone. Now, I like Android, and putting it on what is really a very slim netbook is smart. The result is faster and lighter than any other I’ve tried.
Toshiba’s other new baby is plain odd. The Libretto W100 is a fat little Windows 7 machine with no keyboard, but twin 7in touchscreens, one of which can be a virtual keyboard — interesting, but less of a runner than the AC100.