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 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.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
38 comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • ChiefTexas_82
    Seems to me Nvidia should hurry up with Tegra 3...
  • 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.
  • LordConrad
    I already own one and love it, the expandability offered by this tablet is simply awesome.
  • Lord Lollipop
    If you want nVidia to rush Tegra 3, don't complain when it comes out buggy.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • assassin123
    hello everyone please tell me what are toshiba thrive swiss army of tablets
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • assassin123
    please ans me
  • randomstar
    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.
  • Anonymous
    It looks a bit like an iPad... SUE THEM!
  • randomstar
    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.
  • carnage9270
    You lost me at Toshiba...I'm convinced the name Toshiba is translated to "Crapola"
  • victorintelr
    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?
  • LordConrad
    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
  • jamesedgeuk2000
    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.
  • back_by_demand
    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.
  • shompa
    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....