|At a glance|
|Product||Toshiba Thrive (AT105-T108) [Website]|
|Summary||Another 10" Honeycomb Tegra 2 tablet whose main claim to fame is full-size HDMI and USB ports and SD slot and removable battery|
|Pros||• Full complement of full-sized ports|
• User replaceable battery
• Not as bulky as you might think
• 8 GB flash option
|Cons||• Same video performance as every other Tegra2 tablet|
• Power switch placement
Typical Price: $499 Buy From Amazon
Toshiba dubbed its entry into the 10" Tegra 2 Honeycomb tablet race Thrive. I'm not sure that it or any other Android tablet is going to do that anytime soon. But Toshiba has endowed the Thrive with some unique features that may give it at least a fighting chance, i.e.:
- Full sized HDMI and USB 2.0 ports
- Full-sized SD card slot
- A replaceable battery
- An assortment of colored back covers
- A lower-cost 8 GB version
Aside from the features above, Toshiba otherwise stuck pretty much to the current Honeycomb tablet playbook for the rest of the Thrive's design. This means it is yet another nVidia Tegra 2 CPU / 1 GB RAM tablet. As such, it performs just like every other Tegra 2 Honeycomb tablet on the market.
So I'm going to keep this review pretty short and focus on the things that I think make the Thrive unique. If you want a review that's more blow-by-blow, check out Brad Linder's review over on Liliputing.
Hardware and Features
I purchased the 8 GB version (AT105-T108) from Amazon for review. I appreciate Toshiba's thinking that since they have included an SD card slot and USB port that they could offer a lower-capacity version for the more frugal buyer. It's a lot cheaper to buy your own SD memory vs. paying the $100 to go from 16 to 32 GB that all tablet manufacturers, including Toshiba, think the market will bear. Still, the 8 GB Thrive is $30 more than a 16 GB ASUS Transformer, which continues to offer the best value in a 10" Honeycomb tablet.
Like most other tablets, the Thrive's 802.11b/g/n radio tunes in the 2.4 GHz band only so can't take advantage of less-crowded 5 GHz spectrum. The Bluetooth radio, which I didn't try, supports 3.0 + HS. The spec sheet doesn't mention 3G or 4G WWAN support and there haven't been any announcements from carriers on this point, either.
Toshiba thinks the Thrive's natural orientation is portrait, or at least that's how it named all the port and control diagrams in the user manual. The Front callout diagram is shown below so that you can get oriented to the other views shown in the gallery. I mainly use tablets in landscape mode, which for the Thrive would be rotating the orientation shown below 90 degrees counter-clockwise.
The Thrive has the battery-eating "haptic" feedback I found in the Acer A500 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10. And like the other tablets with this feature, it will occasionally burp the buzzer now and then, such as when unlocking the screen.
I like tablets that can charge from a USB charger so that I can minimize the number of things I have to lug with me when I travel. Unfortunately, not only does the Thrive not charge from USB, but its power adapter is almost as big as the one for my x220i ThinkPad -- complete with detachable cord! Definitely not road-trip friendly.
From the descriptions I'd read of the Thrive, I expected to haul a honkin' big thick slab o' tablet out of the box. But in person, the Thrive doesn't really seem that much beefier than pretty much any other 10" Android tab I've handled. Except, of course, for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.
With its rubberized back and thicker format to house its complement of full-sized ports, the Thrive is designed for utility, not sex appeal. Oh, Toshiba tries to give a bit of a nod to fashion with six optional ($) different-colored rear covers. But this is a techie's tablet, not a fashionista's.
The 10.1" 1280x800 screen is active matrix TFT, so its brightness falls off a bit if you place it flat on a table for viewing. But viewing angles both up and down and side to side are plenty wide enough and will provide satisfactory viewing for all but the pickiest. Still, you'd think Toshiba could have fit a kickstand into all that extra depth. I guess tablet makers don't want to piss off the cover and accessory makers too much.
I have to point out one design "feature" that was a constant aggravation. Other reviewers have mentioned the somewhat annoying front panel power, battery and wireless indicators. For me though, the relative placement of the power light and power switch drove me absolutely buggy.
My finger constantly went for the space right behind the power light, where you'd logically think the power switch would be. But no, as the photo below shows, Toshiba not only moved the button to the right, but didn't provide any tactile feedback to help guide your finger home. So every time I needed to turn the tablet back on, I had to pick it up.
This is one area where the iPad got it right by putting one of the most often used buttons right on the front screen. It looks like Lenovo is taking a stab at putting hardware buttons on the front of its upcoming ThinkPad Tablet and not charging extra for it, either.
Aside from that, the Thrive drives like all the other Tegra 2 Honeycomb tablets I've tried. 3.1 doesn't make a big difference and I suspect 3.2 (when it comes) won't either. Liliputing's review has benchmark results if you think they'll help you pick a better performing tablet. But I wouldn't bother looking at them, since there really isn't any practical performance difference among Tegra 2 Honeycomb tablets.