A mother rushes to comfort her sobbing child. Choking through the sadness, he explains: "It's... it's tablets, mama. They have so few ports." That's when the Toshiba product manager wakes up, and sets back to finish his work on the AT100.
Why It Matters
It would be incorrect to say that the AT100 is the first tablet that tries to recreate the PC experience; that's pretty much all tablets did before the iPad came around. But the AT100 -- along with the slightly less connected Asus Eee Transformer - is one the first significant tablets of the modern tablet era to unabashedly say, "You know what? Here's what you miss about your laptop. Here's how we're going to fix it." But do you really?
Hey, Toshiba, yo tablet's so fat it sweats mayonnaise. Kidding! But not really. At 15.8mm thick, the AT100 is the undisputed champion of the tablet heavyweight division. Yes, it weighs the same as the already bulky Motorola Xoom and HP TouchPad, but its girth makes it feel heavier. It's like a sad, giant Kit Kat bar. The Dirk Nowitzki proportions mean you're going to do most of your AT100-ing in landscape mode. And real quick: AT100? Seriously the worst tablet name yet. The US version of this tablet goes by the sexier "Thrive" moniker. In the US, Toshiba heled of launching the Thrive so it could ship with Android 3.1 Honeycomb; Australia launched a littler earlier, so the AT100 has Android 3.0 (upgradable soon to 3.1).
All that length and that girth is how they gave you all those wonderful ports. Let's count them off while we're here: Full HDMI. MiniUSB. Full USB. And an SD card slot that can boost your storage by up to 128GB. That's more connectivity than anyone else has on offer.
You know when it's nice having a tablet that thinks it's a PC? When you're typing. Perpetual landscape has its annoyances, but this is the most real estate I've seen given to an onscreen keyboard yet, and it's an embarrassment of riches. The camera shoots good enough stills and 720p video. The stereo turns out some decent sound, and the Tegra 2 keeps games like NFS Shift humming along. Oh, and you can bag the 16GB AT100 for $579. That's the exact same price as the also Wi-Fi only 16GB iPad. Hmmm.
Having all those ports in there is like keeping guns in the house: it requires certain sacrifices to get them there, and you may well never use them, but you sleep better knowing that they're nearby.
Price:$579 16GB Wi-Fi
Screen: 10.1-inch, 1280x800
Processor and RAM: NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz, 1GB RAM
Storage: 8GB, 16GB or 32GB (expandable up to 128GB)
Camera: Front: 2MP webcam; Rear: 5MP camera
Do I want a tablet that's more like a PC? No. Especially not when "more like a PC" includes pre-loading my device with piles of bloatware that I'll never use, proprietary crapps that I can't delete. I do not want to visit your App Place, Toshiba, or your Book Place or any Place you want to take me. I don't get in cars with strangers. The display? Your scan lines are showing. Do I mention its fatty, awkward size and the shape? The AT100 feels like you're holding a GoKart steering wheel. If this is what it takes to get MiniUSB on a tablet, I'll pass on the MiniUSB.
Should I Buy It?
I guess there's nothing inherently wrong with trying to bridge the gap between laptop and tablet. I just know that in my entire history as a tablet-owner, I've not once cursed the gods at my lack of a USB port. Because tablets aren't laptops.