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Toshiba Thrive Review: The Swiss Army Knife Of Tablets

Is Toshiba's Thrive An Android-Based Standout?

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 Pricing8 GB16 GB32 GB64 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.

  • ChiefTexas_82
    Seems to me Nvidia should hurry up with Tegra 3...
    Reply
  • soccerdocks
    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.
    Reply
  • LordConrad
    I already own one and love it, the expandability offered by this tablet is simply awesome.
    Reply
  • Lord Lollipop
    If you want nVidia to rush Tegra 3, don't complain when it comes out buggy.
    Reply
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    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.
    Reply
  • acku
    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
    Reply
  • assassin123
    hello everyone please tell me what are toshiba thrive swiss army of tablets
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    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.
    Reply
  • SinisterSalad
    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.
    Reply
  • nforce4max
    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.
    Reply