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Is Toshiba's Thrive An Android-Based Standout?

Toshiba Thrive Review: The Swiss Army Knife Of Tablets
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There's a lot to like about Toshiba's Thrive tablet. Its construction is solid, and easy storage expansion is possible thanks to its SD card reader and full-sized USB port. That latter addition is particularly valuable to us; the world of USB thumb drives and external hard drives suddenly opens up to this handheld device, making capacity an afterthought. Format a 2.5" portable hard drive as FAT32, and you can literally take your entire movie library with you. Forget the hassle of syncing.

Better yet, the Thrive also supports a standard HDMI output, whereas other tablets require a miniHDMI or microHDMI adapter. That's a pain if you're on the road, giving a presentation, and forget to pack it.

Tablet Pricing
8 GB
16 GB
32 GB
64 GB
iPad 2 (Wi-Fi)
-
$499
$599
$699
iPad 2 (AT&T 3G/Verizon 3G)
-
$629
$729
$829
Xoom (Wi-Fi)
-
-
$499
-
Iconia Tab A500 (Wi-Fi)
-
$399
$499
-
Eee Pad Transformer (Wi-Fi)
-
$399
$469
-
Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi)
-
$499
$599
-
Thrive (Wi-Fi)
$379
$399
$479
-


Although Toshiba does a lot of things right here, its Thrive still falls short versus the competition. The 8 GB model is designed to attract buyers on a budget, but it's only $20 less than the 16 GB version. We appreciate a "stripped-down" edition of the Thrive that introduces a new lower price point for folks who balk at the many $500+ tablets out there. However, we're of the opinion that it takes more than a $20 slice off the top to get anyone to dip a toe into this swimming pool.

Toshiba should start the 8 GB Thrive at $359. Right now, the company runs the risk of poor sales right out of the gate. It's clear that lowering prices over time doesn't help encourage new buyers the same way a low, attractive launch price does. Slashing prices only works when its done in an extreme fashion, a la HP's TouchPad.

In our opinion, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 is currently the closest thing to a clear iPad 2 competitor. The design is clean and sexy. Its Super PLS display is nothing short of amazing, and clearly the best screen we've seen on a tablet, boasting wide viewing angles and superior color (for benchmarks, read page six of our Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: A Second-Gen Android Tablet review).

Toshiba's tablet is closer to a beefy version of the A500, except that the Thrive supports full-size SD cards and a removable battery pack. We were really ready to fall in love with that latter feature. However, there's no way to charge a battery outside of the Thrive, making any effort to travel without the AC adapter more hassle than it's worth.

Overall, the Thrive invokes comparisons to a feature-packed Swiss Army knife. Unfortunately, a gadget ready for anything loses its luster when it's also bulky and inconvenient to carry. And that's where we part ways with the Thrive. As it stands, the number of tablet options continues to grow. But we're still searching for the perfect Android-based model.

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