The tablet market may have slumped 34% in the last quarter but it has not stopped vendors like Toshiba launching a new 10″ Android AT 100 Honeycomb tablet that offers a lot more than a hardware casing and a bog standard Google Honeycomb OS.
The big problem in the Android tablet market is that all of the devices are running the same Honeycomb OS, some better than others. But when it comes to hardware differentiation, brands like Toshiba are really starting to cut through with removable backs which allow for the use of a different coloured casing.
Then there is the inclusion of an SD card slot that is missing from the likes of the Motorola Xoom and the Acer Iconia A500 which also lacks support for Microsoft Exchange and Outlook.
When you first pick up the Toshiba AT100, you instantly notice the stylish camera on the front and back. Instead of being almost hidden in the aesthetics of the device, similar to what several Android tablet makers have done, Toshiba has chosen to make the camera a feature.
The front facing camera is 2MP and the rear 5MP. Image resolution was good but more importantly the shooting of an image using the Toshiba was a lot easier because of the location of the camera on the right side of the device.
The Toshiba tablet that I got is fast and appeared to be a tad lighter than the Acer and Motorola tablet offerings. This could be because the back of the device is a lot lighter than the aluminium used on other tablets.
Unlike the Acer tablet, which has its power on/off button on the side, the Toshiba tablet, which was going to be called the ‘Thrive’ till someone pointed out the connection with a garden fertilizer, has the power button on the top left hand side along with the volume control. This is a lot better than what most other Android tablet manufacturers are delivering.
Another big benefit is that this device comes with an interchangeable battery. The 6 cell battery pack will cost you $79.95 and is well worth it if you choose to take a tablet instead of a notebook to meetings or a day trip interstate.
The first thing you notice about the Toshiba tablet is its multimedia capabilities. After easily configuring my Google Account and my Microsoft Exchange email feed, I chose to play around with the video capabilities.
Where Toshiba’s tablet is different from the rest is that it has a full HDMI port and an excellent LED screen which appears to be brighter than both the Motorola Xoom and Acer offering.
The NVIDIA Tegra 2 chip which is the same processor used in the Motorola Xoom appeared to be faster despite the processors being the same. This could be because Toshiba is not putting as much demand on the processor through its application configuration.
Toshiba has done an excellent job of configuring attach capability to their tablet with a USB port and SD cable connection on the side.
The use of a full HDMI port allows one to use a standard HDMI cable, as opposed to having to carry around a micro HDMI cable or adapter.
As a PC vendor, as opposed to what is being delivered by smartphone vendors, Toshiba has realised the importance of technology like DLNA which allows a user to easily connect the new AT100 tablet with a PC or a new All-in-One PC that has DLNA built in.
The Toshiba device I tested was Wi Fi-only which is okay for around the home or office or on location where there is a Wi Fi hotspot. But it really does need a 3G capability, especially when using the device for presentations using content in cloud environments such as Dropbox or via web browser.
The real stand out is the inclusion of a full-size SD card reader. This allowed me to easily view images shot on my digital camera by simply transferring the SD card from one device to another.
Feature-wise, and taking into account the $579 price tag, this device is the best we have seen because of the inclusion of an SD card slot, Full HDMI and the clever integration of its cameras. Then there is the interchangeable battery and the colour coded backs which add a little bit of style.
For a company that invented the notebook, Toshiba has demonstrated that when it comes to small and the packing in of hardware, they are way ahead of a lot of other vendors. While the software is close to what other vendors are offering, Toshiba’s has done a good job of things like DLNA and upscaling of video.
On the down side, it needs a 3G capability.