Toshiba Thrive Review: The Swiss Army Knife Of Tablets

Toshiba's Enhancements: Controlling The "Experience"

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Every tablet bears a few vendor-specific enhancements intended to set it apart from the competition. However, Toshiba's Thrive takes an extra step "out there" by trying to cash in on the software side using its own version of Android Market called App Place. Unfortunately, Toshiba doesn't really provide any incentive to purchase through its store; app prices are the same as what you see in Market.

In the real world, two competing stores would be a boon for the consumer, driving down prices to attract business. That's not how this works, though. Two app stores don't give you options for cheaper apps, nor do they help you track the software you've already purchased on the alternative storefront. Android Market and App Place don’t sync with one another. As it is, Market is great because it keeps track of purchased apps, facilitating installation on the new tablets we test in the lab. Using App Place, compatibility is limited to Android-based products from Toshiba. 

Book Place isn’t even Toshiba’s own software. It just so happens to have Place at the end of its name. However, it’s installed by default on the Thrive because it functions similar to the Kindle app.

Unfortunately, there's nothing particularly noteworthy about this program. Yes, it's a storefront and ebook reader, but ebook prices are the same as what you see at Amazon for the Kindle. Furthermore, Book Place only works on Windows and Android. The Kindle app works on Mac OS X, iOS, Android, and Windows. Again, there's no compelling reason to use Book Place over better options. 

Start Place is basically a glorified RSS reader with a UI that's oddly reminiscent of what we're expecting from Windows 8's Metro.

Thankfully, Toshiba provides a native file management program. This makes it easy to interact with data on your USB mass storage device or SD card.

Our last experience with a tablet featuring a full-sized USB port wasn't great. On Acer's A500, it was possible to manage data using OI File Manager when the tablet debuted with Honeycomb 3.0, but that solution took some digging on our part. As a result, many people had to wait for the Honeycomb 3.1 update to get third-party support for USB storage devices. The Thrive suffers from no such quirk, and it works right out of the box without the need for any third-party workaround.

While it doesn't affect performance or productivity, it's worth mentioning that Toshiba distributes over-the-air (OTA) Honeycomb updates through its Service Station app. On other tablets, you'd normally just perform an update through Android, similar to how Windows Update is integrated into Microsoft's desktop OS.

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38 comments
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  • Seems to me Nvidia should hurry up with Tegra 3...
    6
  • User replaceable battery is a big plus for this tablet. That way I can just buy a new one in a few years when it wears out. Instead of having to leave it plugged in all the time.
    5
  • I already own one and love it, the expandability offered by this tablet is simply awesome.
    6
  • If you want nVidia to rush Tegra 3, don't complain when it comes out buggy.
    3
  • I call BS on EeePad not having "full size USB port". It does, just it's on the keyboard dock (and if you buy the Transformer without one, you're wasting money, the dock is the big part of Transformer's awesomeness). However, I love the fact that Thrive has SD card reader - most of my devices (e-book reader, cameras, netbook) use SD, not the stupid microSD, so it'd be a big plus.

    Huh, Galaxy Tab 10.1 is looking quite poor - doesn't have anything besides the cameras. Shame on Samsung.
    -1
  • amk-aka-phantomI call BS on EeePad not having "full size USB port". It does, just it's on the keyboard dock (and if you buy the Transformer without one, you're wasting money, the dock is the big part of Transformer's awesomeness). However, I love the fact that Thrive has SD card reader - most of my devices (e-book reader, cameras, netbook) use SD, not the stupid microSD, so it'd be a big plus. Huh, Galaxy Tab 10.1 is looking quite poor - doesn't have anything besides the cameras. Shame on Samsung.

    Galaxy Tab 10.1 supports USB devices and HDMI output but you need to buy the separate adapters.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    5
  • hello everyone please tell me what are toshiba thrive swiss army of tablets
    -8
  • Every time I read a tablet review I keep thinking, man they are pretty; But I really dont know what I would use it for that is worth $500.

    Also, surprised that the processors is about 75% graphics, and still cannot do a separate 1080p output. Cloning the screen at low rez should not be that difficult. Netbooks have been able to do 1080p output for years as an extension of the desktop. Sure, they cannot handle video or gaming at that res, but they do just fine with a web page, presentation, or office applications.

    Also, I bet 2012-2013 will be a fun time for tablets once win8 is released. My bet is that it will become a race between Apple and MS, and Android will become irrelevant, or for media consumption only.
    2
  • I picked up the 8GB version a month or so ago when the Egg had a promo going on. I'm a bigger guy, so I like the feel of this. Like Andrew said, it doesn't feel like it's going to slip out of my hands. Hopefully ICS will be available soon for it.
    2
  • Just wait until someone has a accident and drops it only to find the screen digitizer or lcd panel cracked which is a very common issue. Most tablets are underweight and lack proper protection for the screen and flex to much making it easy to break. Second is removable internal storage for the os. Using internal storage for booting that can't be replaced limits the life of most tablets. Cooling is another issue when the soc starts to heat up performance tends to degrade slightly and the user often feels a hot spot on the back. I think that all those porst listen in this review should be standard on all high end tablets above $200 retail especially the $300+. I currently own three tablets and owned a archos 101 8gb before selling it.
    1
  • please ans me
    -6
  • seems to me that with an acer W500 being in the same price range as the upper models, no one would be buying these.. all the features mentioned here, plus 32gb, Windows7. OK, the battery on mine only lasts 5 hours. So What? I can charge it in the car, at work, just about anywhere. (plus I dont have to worry if there is an AP for that. It is Windows, so of course there is,and it can print, scan, whatever.
    1
  • It looks a bit like an iPad... SUE THEM!
    3
  • assassin123please ans me



    Ok, I will bite..
    A Swiss Army Knife is a small folding knife, typicaly with several modified "blades" to perform functions such as scissors, saw, awl, etc. it can contain as few as three and up to several dozen attatchments and functions depending on now elaborate the particualr model is. Refered to as a Swiss Army knife , well because it was at one point made similar to a Swiss watch - meaning intricate and detailed, with precise and reliable function.
    they are trying to say that the Toshiba Thrive has a lot of functions built into one device.
    It really does not have much more than any other similar tablet, but it makes for a point of contention for an article.
    2
  • You lost me at Toshiba...I'm convinced the name Toshiba is translated to "Crapola"
    -6
  • I own a a toshiba thrive. I personally. picked it because of the full size. USB port and the HDMI port p. I planned it on using it in my job but they didn't let me do it.Still I'm pretty satisfied with it. dont have to worry about adapters, but lowered the brightness and the battery lasts the whole afternoon. I barely game in it. though what I don't like is the updates... hopefully it will get the honeycomb 3.2 some day. I don't expect a super tablet out of it. It suits my needs (don't have to carry my laptop to college) , and feel pretty happy wchich is what matters the most, right?
    0
  • ackuGalaxy Tab 10.1 supports USB devices and HDMI output but you need to buy the separate adapters.Cheers,Andrew KuTomsHardware.com

    But having to carry adapters defeats the purpose of a portable and easy to use tablet.

    Galaxy Tab = FAIL
    1
  • You guys missed out something pretty big here, not only is it full sized SD but its SDXC! that means you can get an 8GB Thrive and a 64GB SDXC card for less than the cost of a 16GB iPad. Thought it worth pointing out.
    7
  • jamesedgeuk2000You guys missed out something pretty big here, not only is it full sized SD but its SDXC! that means you can get an 8GB Thrive and a 64GB SDXC card for less than the cost of a 16GB iPad. Thought it worth pointing out.

    Good point well made, and the best bit is you can have a pocket full of 64Gb SD cards, there is a nice credit card shaped holder for 4 cards that can slip into a wallet, 256Gb of removable storage in your back-burner is pretty sweet.
    3
  • Lord LollipopIf you want nVidia to rush Tegra 3, don't complain when it comes out buggy.

    Tegra3 is just a stopgap. Its not a good idea to have 5 ARM cores at 40nm.

    Only reason to do this is if you can beat 28nm part by a long time.
    Now Nvidia only will have a 2-3 month lead before 28 nm quod core ARM15 SocS (including A6).

    A15 have twice the performance then A9.

    Look at Tegra2. A5 is up to 5 times faster and is clocked 500-900mhz slower....
    0