Battery Life

Owing both to its AMOLED technology and just plain smaller display dimensions, the Toshiba Excite 7.7's battery life is pretty stellar for an Android tablet. That said, while we try to measure battery running time with the display set at ~200 nits, the shifting brightness and unreliable calibration readings makes this a much more difficult proposition. As a result I did something essentially unthinkable; I adjusted the brightness by eye.

My desktop monitors are all calibrated to 220 nits (I'm a little bit blind), so I used them as a comparison point for setting the brightness of the Excite 7.7 for battery testing. Even then it's still a ballpark setting for two reasons: the dynamic brightness, and the way AMOLED technology itself works. Dark colors (and blacks) draw less power than a bright colors or a white display do. So while I tested video playback on the Excite 7.7 using a video with the same bitrate, dimensions, and codec as the other guys do when testing their tablets, there's a chance the duller color palette of the horror movie (my horror movie) might have had a slight impact on the results. If you want to see the source material for yourself (shameless plug ahead), you can check it out here.

Web Browsing Battery Life

Video Playback - H.264 720p High Profile (4Mbps)

Even with having to eyeball the brightness and the potentially compromised color palette of the video played back, the results speak for themselves: the Excite 7.7 has excellent battery life. Even if you chopped a quarter of the running time off to create a worst case scenario, the Excite 7.7 would still be beating the comparably sized Kindle Fire handily and be roughly competitive with Google's excellent Nexus 7.

Subjective User Experience

If you come to AnandTech for objective product analysis, feel free to skim or skip this section. As someone who relies either on a smartphone or a netbook for most of his portable computing needs, the tablet presents an interesting alternative and I was curious to see how it would fit into my workflow and daily life. My impressions are...mixed.

As a smartphone user I've shied away from getting locked into Apple's closed ecosystem, and my experiences with Android have been less than stellar. Truth be told, I use a smartphone powered by Windows Phone 7.5; Microsoft's smartphone operating system is remarkably clean, functional, and snappy to use, and it's difficult to bog it down the way Android can very easily get. Visually I also find the spartan coloring and design to be more pleasing than Android or iOS, but I also tend to prefer more minimalistic approaches to aesthetics whenever possible. Why is this relevant?

Because I have my doubts about Android as a tablet OS. Android is very busy and not as intuitive as I'd like, and if Windows 8 or Windows RT are going to gain traction with consumers, Metro Modern may very well be a large part of why. Through no fault of Toshiba's, Ice Cream Sandwich on the Excite 7.7 felt clunky and unintuitive. Toshiba's own file management and media playback software is nice and clean and works perfectly fine, but the surrounding operating system really needs work in the UI department.

What killed the usability for me were two areas: the touchscreen keyboard and the lack of a true wireless data option. Microsoft's Surface and many other Windows 8/RT tablets are liable to fix the issue of the former, but the sluggish oligopoly that is the American wireless market is quickly turning into a boot on the throat of emerging technologies like tablets. Content consumption devices are only as good as their ability to provide content, but by being tethered to WiFi the tablet becomes more of a novelty. Unfortunately that's going to be the case for most users, Toshiba tablet or no, because wireless data plans for tablets are prohibitively expensive, especially when you're already dealing with paying the bill for your smartphone. All of this before you get into the offensively low bandwidth caps American wireless carriers have in place.

As far as smaller tablets go, I do quite like the Excite 7.7 and I've found it moderately useful for doing quick look-ups of things while I'm in front of the TV. It's much easier to pick up a tablet that's less than a pound than it is a three pound netbook. It's just not worth the price of admission, and for people commuting on public transportation in major metropolitan areas (for example, BART in the California bay area), the lack of wireless broadband is a killer. Nine times out of ten, I'm going to prefer my old-fashioned Kindle Keyboard and just read.

Display and Performance Conclusion: If You're In the Market, It's Worth a Look
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  • solinear - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Seriously, this read like an upbeat funeral, sans the wake.

    I think that is the sign of two things: The tablet market is about as exciting as a yawn and that maybe they need to get someone that doesn't dislike the platform they are reviewing before they even start the review.
    Reply
  • VivekGowri - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    There's a few interesting tablet products out there - every new iPad, the Nexus 7, Surface, the headlining ASUS and Samsung W8 and Android tablets, and not a whole lot else. Sony comes up with some interesting ideas, but the execution is rarely there so I'm not sure I can count them. Basically, there's a lot of tablets out there and not a whole lot of differentiation between most of them, so for the most part they're really not particularly interesting. With that said, I really like the 7.7" form factor so combining that with Tegra 3 results in an intriguing device that I would never want to pay for. Reply
  • teiglin - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    I think the timing here is pretty unfortunate. I bought a Galaxy Tab 7.7 just over six months ago, because I wanted a tab small enough to hold comfortably with one hand. Back then, the alternatives were Kindle Fire/Nook Tablet, which suffered from poor performance and middling 1024x600 panels, or the Galaxy Tab 7+, which had good hardware but suffered the same display woes as the ultra-budget tabs while still being around $400. In that landscape, it wasn't a hard decision to spend a bit more on a tablet that had a top-notch display (not to mention, I've always been a huge OLED fan) and solid internals. Also at that time, the Excite 7.7 wouldn't appear for another four months or so.

    Today, things are much worse for premium, small tabs. When you can have a tegra3, 1280x800 Nexus 7 for $250, it's a lot harder to justify spending nearly twice as much just to get OLED in a slightly thinner package, instead of a perfectly good IPS LCD.
    Reply
  • wiyosaya - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    "There's a few interesting tablet products out there - every new iPad"

    IMHO, personal preferences reveal bias which, after having read only the first page of this review, and the first few comments, has made me stop reading the review.

    Where's the "rolleyes" smilie?

    Whatever. I suppose it is almost impossible to get an unbiased review these days.
    Reply
  • wiyosaya - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Opps. My fault. Not the reviewer's comment. Just someone enamored in the iWorld. Again, where's the "rolleyes" smilie? Reply
  • EnzoFX - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Also, why not compare this directly to the Nexus 7? 7" is more the target audience with a 7" tablet, be it amoled or not. Reply
  • RamarC - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    "can it really justify the $499 starting price?"

    No. Twice as much as Nexus 7 but only slighty different -- not really any need to beyond that...
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Yeah, the device is identical to a Nexus 7 - only swapping a 7" IPS for a 7.7" AMOLED. The additional cost of that display is a few dollars - not $250. Toshiba clearly isn't interested in selling these. Reply
  • smartypnt4 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    Seriously?

    I mean, seriously?

    I fail to see how this is not an interesting product. The only thing that stops it from being truly competitive in my book is the price tag. Granted, Samsung came out with the Tab 7.7 a while back, but its internals weren't good enough, and Touchwiz remains the worst Android skin I've yet used.

    Also, are we really complaining about having more product reviews on here? That's the only thing anyone could possibly take issue with in regards to this site: they don't have as many reviews as other sites do on mainstream products like tablets. Then again, they don't get sent as many tablets as places like Engadget.

    As far as the reporting goes: if you don't like it, you don't have to read it. Honestly, it didn't read to me like he didn't care about the platform he's reviewing. He made disclaimers up front about the fact that he's not the go-to tablet guy here, and that he doesn't typically use a tablet. Even if his review had come across that way, I fail to see how you would take issue with it.
    Reply
  • Origin64 - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    "Just keep scrolling" is a mantra that few take the trouble to remind themselves of, sadly. Reply

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