Toshiba Thrives in the Tablet Market

We had an opportunity to meet with representatives from Toshiba this afternoon to talk about their upcoming consumer hardware, but while the majority of it is still under NDA (including some very exciting notebook refreshes), one of the biggest announcements is ready to go today: the Toshiba Thrive, their entry into the tablet market.

The Thrive may seem like an also-ran alongside many of the other Tegra 2-based tablets on the market, but Toshiba has some very special sauce they’ve liberally applied to this release. The Thrive is a 10.1” tablet sporting what appears to be an IPS panel (it passes the viewing angle tests) and Android 3.1, and while it’s a little on the chunky side, there are some very good reasons for that. Toshiba’s reps stressed that they were gunning more for a better bridge from their notebook business and wanted a tablet that was as user-friendly as possible.

For starters, they’re keeping Android largely stock with three notable inclusions. The first is Toshiba’s own file manager, which I found to be very easy to use and understand. If you’re at all used to Windows 7’s file manager, Toshiba’s will be an easy transition. Another inclusion is a single application for handling media playback: photos, videos, and music are all available here, making it easy to get to your media. Finally, coupled with their playback software is their “Resolution Plus” software which dynamically upscales video to high definition, tweaking color balance and contrast. Purists may or may not like it, but I found it did improve the viewing experience.

The rest of the Thrive is marked by a desire to make it as easy to use and personalize as possible. The back panel has a comfortable, slightly-rubberized texture to it, but it’s also removable and swappable with differently-colored aftermarket panels. What’s under it is a user-removable and replaceable battery. Along the sides of the tablet are volume and power controls along with a lock switch that prevents the display from rotating. There’s a combination microphone/headphone jack, but Toshiba made it a point to go full-sized wherever possible with ports to ease the transition to tablet computing, and as a result they include a full-sized SD card reader, USB 2.0 port, and HDMI port. There’s also a mini-USB port. Finally, the face of the Thrive features a 2-megapixel camera while the back has a 5-megapixel camera.

Toshiba expects retail availability in the next few weeks. MSRP is $429 for the 8GB version, $479 for the 16GB model, and $579 for the 32GB. That's a lot less than the Motorola Xoom and similar to the Acer Iconia A500; while all offer the same level of performance (thanks to Tegra 2 hardware), differences in the industrial design and pricing will play a major role. Toshiba will also be offering docking stations, including one with USB and HDMI connectivity for external keyboard, mouse, and display use.

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  • deadsix - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    I'm loving the full size connectors hopefully the display is up par with the iPad 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. If the display is good then Toshiba might be getting my money. Reply
  • gfjtyty - Thursday, June 09, 2011 - link

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  • suzuki3 - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    I believe this is a 10.1 inch screen and not an 8.9 as specified in the article, But still found this helpful... But i am undecided between the Samsung and th Toshiba tablet. I really like the idea of the replaceable battery and ports. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Toshiba didn't get Dustin a spec sheet, so he was estimating based on his hands on time. I've updated the text, as I'm pretty sure 10.1" is correct. Reply
  • themossie - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Overall, this looks great! It clearly has a proprietary charger, but... any idea if it can also charge through USB like the ASUS transformer? This is a required feature for me and many users. Reply
  • tony355 - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Was sold on the Galaxy until i saw the thrive. With exact same specs as the Galaxy except for weight and thickness. The addition of all the ports and removeable battery is too much to pass up. And Cheaper too. Im sold.!!!!!!! The Thrive will be mine.

    Im new to tablets so i hope someone can educate me on apps. Im considering getting the 8GB Thrive to save money and with the SD card slot compensating for the storage in the actual tablet.

    My question is do Apps take up a lot of memory and could my choice of the 8GB cost me in the long run.

    Also can Apps run off of an SD card???/ If so then the 8GB is no longer an issue.
    Thanks
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    Many apps can, including most games, it's up to the app developer whether his app can run off external storage or not. I think the 8GB model is a very smart choice on Toshiba's part, in order to lower the price, specially with that full size SD slot. Reply
  • wwickedd - Wednesday, June 08, 2011 - link

    Some apps need to be in internal memory such as widgets but alot of apps can run while stored in the SD card.

    If you're new to tablets and interested in getting the Thrive, be sure to check out our new forum http://www.thriveforums.org
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, June 08, 2011 - link

    Would be better if the prices of these toys would drop. Well, thats how I view tablets anyhow. As toys.

    Could be interesting in the future, if game developers started porting mainstream games to tablets. That is when/if Windows 8 musters such a movement. As it stands,

    I think the only thing I would want to do with a tablet is view PDF's. or maybe watch a movie when traveling. Of course, viewing stuff on the web would work its self in there sometimes too. With that said $400 + is just too much to ask the typical user to pay for a very limited use device. In the context of GP processor system.
    Reply

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