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Toshiba Thrive Review: The Swiss Army Knife Of Tablets

There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Tablet

In Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the name given to each little person really captured the neurosis of every character. Can you name them all? There was Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, and, of course, Dopey.

The tablet market has its own marked characters. The iPad 2 is Vogue. Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 is Slim. The Xoom is Exclusive (always the first with Google updates, after all). Asus' Eee Pad Transformer is Convertible. And Acer's Iconia A500 is Expandable, due to its full-sized USB port. Although HP's TouchPad is effectively dead (ate the poisoned Apotheker apple), let's call it Beefcake for its not-so-thin profile.

Toshiba's Thrive is the seventh tablet in this line-up. It's harder to peg with just a single word, though.

The tablet fight is still being fought between Apple's iPad 2 and the Android-based competition. But because each product based on Google's operating system offers something unique, there's never a clear frontrunner when it comes to going toe-to-toe with the incumbent from Cupertino.

FeatureChecklistAcer Iconia A500Asus Eee Pad TransformerMotorola XoomSamsung Galaxy Tab 10.1Toshiba Thrive
Full-Sized USB Port (Ext. Storage)X---X
Front CameraXXXXX
Rear CameraXXXXX
SD Card Reader----X
HDMI OutputXXX-X
microSD Card ReaderXXX--

The Thrive successfully delivers a very comprehensive list of features, which is why it's a little different. It includes a full-sized USB port, a pair of cameras, HDMI output, and an SD card reader. No other tablet has combined all four of those yet. The closest contender is Acer's Iconia A500 Tab, differing only in its support for microSD cards (instead of SD cards). The thing is, you can always adapt smaller microSD cards to the larger slot.

Moreover, Toshiba's offering is the first 10.1" Android-based tablet to ship with an available 8 GB capacity point, which should make it a more accessible choice for those who want a full-featured tablet at a lower price.

  • 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