The Bottom LineAug 22 2011 - Toshiba's Thrive tablet offers a unique set of features that will appeal to a number of tablet buyers. The most notable of these features are full sized USB and HDMI ports that allow it to easily connect to external monitors and peripherals. Unfortunately, the tablet is one of the largest and heaviest on the market which detracts for the portability aspect of tablets. Add to this less than stellar battery life and a flood of preinstalled applications and you end up with a tablet that really is going to only appeal to a small niche group.
- Full Sized HDMI And USB Ports
- Removable Battery Pack
- Bulky And Heavy
- Too Many Preinstalled Applications
- Below Average Battery Life
- 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Cortex-A9) Dual Core Processor
- 1GB Memory
- 16GB Storage Space
- 10.1-inch WXGA (1280x800) Multitouch Display
- NVIDIA Tegra 2 Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- 2.0 Megapixel Front Camera, 5.0 Megapixel Back Camera
- HDMI, USB 2.0, mini-USB 2.0, SD Card Slot, Docking Connector
- 10.8" x 7" x .62" @ 1.6 lbs.
- Android 3.1
Review - Toshiba Thrive 10.1-inch 16GB Wi-Fi Tablet
The primary reason for the .62-inch thick tablet has to do with the available ports. While USB and HDMI are available on many Android tablets, most of them require either a mini or micro connector to connect it to external devices. Some even require specialized dongle cables. Toshiba has included a full sized HDMI and USB port on the Thrive tablet. This makes it very easy to connect the device to either an external HDMI monitor or use USB storage or input peripherals. This may be very useful for business users who will use it for demonstrations or presentations.
The other big reason for the extra girth of the Thrive tablet has to do with the battery. It is the only tablet on the market that can have the battery removed by the user. This has some advantages down the road if the battery dies. The user simply needs to get a replacement battery and install it themselves. With other tablets, the tablet either has to be fully replaced or sent in to a repair center for the replacement. Mind you, the back cover that has to be removed before you can access the battery pack can be very difficult to remove. The cover panel also feels like it could easily break when it is removed from the panel. This makes swapping the battery just because it ran down less useful
Battery life on the Toshiba Thrive is surprisingly low for such a large tablet. Maybe this is why they have the option of swapping battery packs. The 23WHr rated battery is advertised as having up to an eleven hour running time. In video playback testing, the tablet was able to only run for just under seven hours total. This is well below the Apple iPad 2's or Samsung Galacy Tab 10.1 that last over ten hours. In fact, this puts it at one of the shortest running times out of the larger tablets current available.
The display for the Toshiba Thrive uses the standard 10.1-inch dimensions found on just about every Android 3 tablet on the market with its 1280x800 resolution. Brightness and contrast were both good for a tablet but not quite as nice as a few others on the market. The big downside is that the viewing angles seem to be fairly poor with color dropoff very noticeable when viewing from off center. This makes it less than suitable for viewing by multiple people at a time. It also forces it to always be held at a certain angle which can be uncomfortable when viewing longer video clips or reading for extended periods of time.
Cameras can be found on both the front and back panel of the Toshiba Thrive tablet. The orientation of the cameras differ from the majority of other Android based tablets. Rather than having it in the landscape orientation which is the standard for the wider screen tablets, Toshiba places both the front and back cameras at the top in the portrait orientation. This makes them a bit more difficult to use over extended periods of time as the weight balance is not well suited for holding in portrait for a long time. If you do place it in landscape for shooting, you have to watch your hand placement as you likely will cover the lens. Picture quality is acceptable for both cameras but like all tablets, it has problems shooting in low light and has less than stellar color making it not the best for photography or video.
In terms of the software, it uses a standard Android 3.1 interface. Toshiba does include a fair number of applications installed on the device for users. Some of them are nice such as Quickoffice or the New York Times. The problem is that they loaded a few too many programs which eats into the storage on the device and many of them will likely be removed by the user. It also is missing a fair number of social media applications loaded on the device which is one of the major areas that consumers use these devices.