Introducing the Toshiba Excite 7.7

While Toshiba's tablets so far haven't been necessarily bad, like most Android tablets they just haven't really set the world on fire. The only breakthroughs in this market seem to have been ASUS with their Transformers and Amazon's Kindle Fire with its hyper-aggressive pricetag; frankly, the iPad's market stranglehold is a tough nut to crack. That's why I like seeing what Toshiba's up to; most people don't notice when they experiment, but with their Excite line they definitely seem to be doing just that.

Toshiba produced the only 13.3" tablet at the top of the Excite line, but in the smallest form factor, the 7.7", they've gone a different route. The Excite 7.7 eschews the IPS panels most commonly found on tablets in favor of a 1280x800 AMOLED display. The result is a visual experience that's definitely eyecatching compared to other tablets on the market, but can it really justify the $499 starting price?

So here's an interesting question for you: why is the desktop/notebook/case guy handling a tablet review instead of someone like Jason, Anand, Brian, or Vivek? The simple answer is that as someone who doesn't use tablets with any great frequency, I get a slightly different perspective much as Jarred did when he helped review the Acer Iconia A500. This is a big, fresh market that's only going to get bigger with the release of Windows 8; my experience just seeing what HP and Toshiba had in store for that launch is proof enough of that. Just like smartphones have gradually eroded the market for dedicated portable gaming consoles, tablets (and ultrabooks to an extent) have been eating away the market for netbooks. Whether you like it or not, this is the new boss.

With the Excite 7.7, Toshiba is taking the basic foundations of Android tablets and banking on a crucial difference: the AMOLED display. AMOLED is an interesting display technology choice for a tablet; thus far it's been found essentially almost entirely on smartphones, but it has a lot to offer in a bigger size. So while the Excite's 1280x800 resolution isn't necessarily competitive with the substantially higher resolutions of bigger tablets, it makes up for it by having an essentially unmeasurable contrast ratio. When a pixel on an AMOLED display is off, it's off, so there's no calculating a contrast ratio when you have to divide by zero.

Tablet Specification Comparison
  Toshiba Excite 7.7 Apple iPad (2012) Amazon Kindle Fire Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
Dimensions 205.7 x 134.6 x 7.6mm 241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm 190 x 120 x 11.4mm 230.9 x 157.8 x 8.6mm
Display 7.7-inch 1280x800 AMOLED 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 IPS 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS 8.9-inch 1280 x 800 PLS
Weight 349g 652g 413g 447g
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 3 1.3GHz (4 x Cortex A9 + 1 x LP Cortex A9) Apple A5X (2 x Cortex A9, PowerVR SGX 543MP4) 1GHz TI OMAP 4430 (2 x Cortex A9) 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 (2 x Cortex A9)
Memory 1GB 1GB 512MB 1GB
Storage 16GB 16GB 8GB 16GB
Pricing $499 $499 $199 $469

The Excite 7.7's biggest problem from the get go is that price tag, but note that it's among the thinnest and lightest tablets available, easily besting the Amazon Kindle Fire. Thankfully the $499 MSRP isn't what's materializing in retail; a visit to NewEgg reveals the 32GB model available for $509 while the 16GB model is just $429. That's still a chunk of change, but at least it takes it out of striking distance of the incumbent iPad. Weighing about half as much probably doesn't hurt either.

Specifications on the Excite 7.7 are fairly modest; it's Tegra 3 as we're accustomed to for Ice Cream Sandwich-powered Android tablets and features a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Wired connectivity is handled by a micro-USB port, micro-SD slot, and headphone/mic combo jack; wireless is bog standard 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0, with no mobile broadband options. The shell itself is attractive, though, with a black finish around the front display, two speakers on the bottom surrounding the charging port, and an etched aluminum backing.

Display and Performance
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  • teiglin - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    +1. There are exactly two 7.7" SAMOLED+ tablets on the market today, and excluding the one direct competitor from this review is frankly mind-boggling to me.

    The P6810 (Galaxy Tab 7.7 wifi) can be had for under $450 online now, and it's (imo) a better device. Exynos4210 may not be quad-core but its day-to-day performance is at least as good as tegra3. Plus, it's available with a quad-band HSPA+ radio, which also includes full phone functionality, or you can spend up on the VZW version and forgo the phone for LTE.

    As you mention, there's not much market for any >$200 tablet that doesn't start with i and end with Pad, and even here, the comments bear out that most consumers stop reading once they see that it's $500, not 10", and not an iPad. But as others have also pointed out, this is an unusual, niche device, and I'm glad to see any attention it gets.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Amen!!!

    I can't believe he left out the other SAMOLED+ based tablet in the exact same size

    I have LTE version of the GT7.7 and it's been a real pleasure. Outside of knowing that verizon will hold me to HC for a very long time, it's been a gem. Great build quality, slim design, samoled+ and it can function as a hotspot. What more can i ask for?
    Reply
  • metafor - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    The only thing holding me back from the Samsung 7.7 is the lack of ICS. Samsung just seems to have forgotten about it when it comes to updates. Reply
  • teiglin - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Only the Verzion version lacks ICS at this point (thank you American carriers for your wonderfully smooth OS update process!). The international versions have both had ICS for almost two months, which is, admittedly, still pathetically slow from Samsung. Reply
  • haukionkannel - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Interesting new tablet! The screen is definitely interesting. I am guite sure, that people are more easily to forgive the price if they can compare it directly with another tablet.
    Hopefully we see some other tablets with Oled screens soon!
    Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    I have mixed feelings about tablets in general, but I do have a 7" Acer A100. I only paid 200.00 for it on close out . For 200.00 it has its place for browsing and watching netflix. But for 500.00 with no 3G or 4G connectivity included-- absolutely not. Android tablets just have too many limitations to pay this much for one. I dont care how nice the screen is. I would get a smartphone or laptop or wait for a windows tablet and pay more.

    I am just astounded at the price of this.

    Reply
  • mike55 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    What if you measure the brightness of a full red, blue, and green screen separately and add them together? That might get you closer to a brightness measurement more comparable with other tablets. Reply
  • teiglin - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Was this review written back before the Excite 7.7 launched? The review contains several obvious anachronisms that undermine its usefulness. For example, the street price has dropped significantly ($430-$440 at a quick search), and it's been over a month since anyone who wanted a Nexus 7 didn't have one. I guess it shouldn't be surprising to find this sort of issue--the concluding line that "the Toshiba Excite 7.7 is probably going to wind up being lost in the shuffle" has already come true. Reply
  • TareX - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Sorry, but this is a substandard review for Anandtech. I expected it to be way better given how long this review took to arrive. I'd rather have it written by someone familiar with Android and tablets, and not NEITHER. It was a Cowboy move assigning this task to Dustin.

    That said, the Nexus 7 DID kill the Toshiba Excite. $250 is too much to pay for a MicroSD (my only reason to buy this over the Nexus 7) and SAMOLED screen, expecially given the fact it won't come with 4.1, and Toshiba has a bad record updating its Android devices.
    Reply
  • dishayu - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Thank you for the tablet coverage but Plextor M5 Pro now, please! Reply

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