Hands On Toshiba’s New Excite Tablets

Hands On Toshiba’s New Excite Tablets

The Toshiba AT100 (Thrive) was big and fat. The Thrive 7 trimmed down a bit, but it was still pretty beefy. That’s why we were surprised when we saw the new Excite series and our reaction was, “Oh sweetie! What, you don’t eat?”

Giz AU note: We’ll let you know of Australian availability as soon as we can.

There are three new Excite tablets: the 7.7-inch, the 10-inch and the 13-inch. Yes, you heard me right: 13-inch screen. They are all very thin. They’ve ditched the fat rubber backing for sleek, strong aluminium, and the screens are made of Gorilla Glass. There are also all of the ports you’d expect from a Toshiba tablet: microUSB, microHDMI and microSD (except for the 13-inch which has a full-sized SD slot). They feel nice and strong. They all feature the speedy quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor clocked at 1.3GHz, 1GB of RAM and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. In my brief time with these tabs I didn’t see a moment of stutter or lag. Good.

Common features aside, the 7.7 is probably the most compelling of the three. The banner feature on it is an AMOLED screen (1280×800), which haven’t really made their way to tablets yet. It’s a very nice, bright display with rich colours and super-deep blacks. It’s also extremely portable. At just 349g, it’s the lightest tablet that we know of, and 0.35 inches (8.89mm) puts it among the thinnest too.

The one your eye will keep going back to, though, is the 13-inch. You can’t help it. Its gravitational pull tractor-beams your eyes to it. It’s just, y’know, huge for a tablet. The plus side: it comes with a stand, so it’d be nice for watching movies on. The minus side: it just doesn’t feel very portable. It’s heavy, and its 16:9 ratio makes it feel awkward at that size. Toshiba raised the resolution to 1600×900, but that’s not anywhere near the PPI of the new iPad, and at that size, pixels are visible. Plus, even at full-brightness the screen was quite dim.

The middle child is the 10-incher. It’s not bad, it’s just not super special. The biggest draw to this one is how light and thin it is for a 10-inch tablet: 599g and 0.35 inches (8.89mm), respectively. That’s great. What’s exceptionally not great is the screen — it’s the worst of both worlds. It has the dimmer, less attractive screen technology of the 13-inch, combined with the 1280×800 pixels of the 7.7 (they’re just stretched more). The result is a dim screen with pixels that are very visible.

The Excite 10 will be available the first week of May, starting at $US450 for the 16GB version. The 7.7 will be available the first week of June, but it will actually cost $US50 more than its bigger brother, coming in at $US500 (16GB version). Usually larger tablets cost more, so I guess that AMOLED screen wasn’t cheap. Lastly, also available the first week of June, is the 13-inch, starting at $US650 for the 32GB version. Our first impulse is to scoff at such a huge screen, but then Samsung managed to sell a whole lot of Galaxy Notes, so maybe there’s something to this big device phenomena. Or maybe not.