Toshiba Thrive

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Dimensions: 272 x175 x 15mm
Weight: 771g
10.1-inch (1280 x 800) IPS LCD capacitive display
Android 3.1 (Honeycomb)
1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-core processor
5MP (rear) camera w/ AF
2MP (front) camera
SD card slot (expandable to 32GB)
MiniUSB port
3.5mm headphone jack
Wifi 802.11 b/g/n
A-GPS support

Oh, Toshiba Thrive, where do you fit in this sea of tablets? Having succeeded where the Folio 100 fell short, there are still the doubters and the skeptics, brushing off your bulk as the ultimate design faux pas.

Fortunately, there's more to the Thrive than it's bigger backside, and a lot of it is worth mentioning. In the world of ultrathin and uberlight tablets, the Thrive dares to be different, and that's not a bad thing.

And since Android is all about choices, it never hurts to have a new kid on the block, even if it's not for you. But it might be. Join us after the break to see if Toshiba's newest foray into the tablet market is worth your time or was a second-best from the moment it moved here

At first glance, the Toshiba Thrive is quite the looker. The top of the box is all black, with a slick looking picture of the front of the tablet. It's all very dark, mysterious, and thin looking. Black is a thinning color, after all.
The kicker is when you actually take it out of the box. Then you see it's not thin. Well, not thin compared to what's out there already.
That picture might give you the impression the Thrive is skinny. Compared to Apple's offering, and the current gold standard for thin and sexy, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Thrive looks a bit chunky, coming it at 272 x 175 x 16mm.
In the grand scheme of things, 16mm is actually quite small. When your thinnest competitor is a sleek 8.6mm, though, you're without a doubt the bigger of the two, by almost double. Despite the thickness, the Thrive still feels great in the hands. Yes, it's thicker. Yes, it's a (little bit) heavier. No, it will not dramatically ruin your experience. To say otherwise is hogwash.
The front of the Thrive is one smooth slate, save for the slightly raised silver semi-circle that surrounds the front-facing camera. The standard Honeycomb configuration is present, so there's not a physical button to be seen, front-side. If you're holding the tablet in portrait mode, your power, charging, and Wi-fi notification lights are on the right bezel.

The screen is the standard 10-inch resolution (1280 x 800), and while Toshiba didn't rattle any cages by maintaining the status quo, they made a great decision in going with an IPS display. The colors have been really vivid in all my time spent browsing and toying around (the white wallpaper seen above illustrates the point) and I'm definitely impressed with it.

The Thrive is also sporting rounded corners, a la every-new-Android-device-that's-coming-out-these-days, and also has a grip-textured back instead of any matte finishes or completely plastic designs. What the leaves you is nothing but glass on the front and ribbed, gripping material on the back. It's a smart move, especially considering that there's more material to get your hands onand a bit more weight, so giving you something to really latch onto and feel secure while handling your device is superb.

The top bezel is fairly simple, holding the reflective plastic, clasp-looking thing that houses both cameras. On the right side you've got a sliding lock to prevent the back cover from being taken off. Typically, I'd probably keep this locked, but because of that nasty wake-lock issue, I found myself having to battery pull a couple of times. Fortunately, even if you move into landscape position, there's still nothing you'll be regularly using here.

The right-hand bezel has our more oft-used functions, like the volume rocker and the power button. This is also where the aforementioned status lights are, if you're looking at the front of the screen. The volume rocker has a nice, clicky feel to it, as does the power button. It also works well in portrait (press up for more volume), but when rotated into portrait, the volume rocker becomes opposite the on-screen indicator. Is it a deal-breaker? No, but it's a little difference, and spending five minutes with it in landscape will get you trained, but it's there so I had to mention it.

Due south of the volume rocker is an orientation lock. For a while, I never bothered with it, but when I accidentally slid it into lock position and couldn't figure out why my tablet wasn't rotating our of portrait, I did some investigating. It's a nifty addition, if you're in a position where you're getting a lot of accidental rotation, I guess.

Slide towards the opposite side of this bezel and you'll meet one of the Thrive's first specialties: the SD card slot. No, not microSD. A full-size, ready-to-go, SD card slot. Click in an SD card (think similar to a digital camera) and you'll get a notification next to the clock, saying your card was detected. You might require a reboot for your storage to show up on the "Storage" menu in the settings, but it's definitely there and it works.

Exploring with a file manager showed the SD card, ready and waiting, which was awesome. Unfortunately, you can't move things on and off the SD while it's in the tablet (say, if you plugged the Thrive into a computer), but as we all know, that's a Honeycomb limitation, not a Thrive one, so don't let it tarnish your opinion on the Thrive's functionality.At first glance, the bottom bezel is pretty boring. Uncovered, you've got your charging input and a headphone jack. If you'll notice, though, there's what seems to be a removable panel to the right of said headphone jack. And removable it is.

Pop that sucker open and you'll see three of the Thrive's biggest selling points: a full-sized USB port, an HDMI port, and a mini-USB port. The full-sized USB port works like a charm. Plug in a thumb drive and watch it get detected. If you don't like the SD card route, you've definitely got options. The HDMI port is so standard these-a-days, but it's nice to not have to grab an adapter just to use it.

And the microUSB? I imagine it's suppose to work with the included PC-sync cable, and in that regard, it does, mostly. I'm not sure if this is a widespread issue or if my unit is just a little out of whack, but if I tried using the tab at any point while it was plugged into my computer, the cable would jiggle loose and disconnect. My only way of syncing was leaving it flat on my desk, and while it's not terrible, I'd love to hear this is unique to me and not something everyone can expect.

ove onto the last bezel of the four and you'll see two speakers (one on each end) and what looks like a suspiciously removable cover. This cover is actually a huge pain to take off, requiring really long nails and/or something longer and skinnier to actually complete the task once you've got it about halfway but your not-even-fat fingers keep pushing it back down, but I digress...

When you've finally got the cover off, there's a connecting port staring back at you! For what? Accessories, I'm hoping. Give me a keyboard I can use with this while it's in landscape mode and I'll be a happy man. That's not to say the virtual keyboard isn't good, I'm just a product of the tactile feel generation, and not having to lean the Thrive on my legs would be a huge boon.

As for those speakers, they're good, but not great. Muse sounded pretty good in my sound tests, and while it's not really bass-heavy, it's workable. Why Toshiba opted to put the speakers on the bottom is beyond me, but since you can rotate any which way you'd like, you can totally have them pointing upwards and your screen will adjust accordingly.

The software

The Thrive launches with Android 3.1 on it, with all of it's goodies like Google Videos. Toshiba's also been pretty proactive about system updates, with a pre-release update and not one but two system updates while I've had the unit in my possession.

As for Google Videos, no, there's still no tablet app in the Market, but the workaround menno uses still works. As long as you use the web browser, you can rent and watch movies without issue. Limitless played without issues, for those interested.

There also are couple of Toshiba-specific apps, like App Place and Book Place, which are just what they sound like.

App Place is Toshiba's app store, and it definitely bears some striking resemblances to our own beloved Android Market. I definitely appreciate a 60-day trial (instead of an outright purchase), but if you look closely, you'll notice it's not a trial at all, but a "60-day trail." Yes, it's a little niggle, but something I'd still definitely fix in an OTA.

Book Place looks to be Toshiba's entry into the e-books market, and it seems pretty clean and functional. You can hit up the latest promotions to see all the books under $4, and you're also given a few sample books to toy around with as well.Probably the best Toshiba-branded app of the bunch is their file manager. The Toshiba file manager has a clean, intuitive interface, much like any of the HD, tablet-centric file managers in the Market, but also has options to view your USB or SD card's storage as well. In my experience, checking what's on external storage works like a charm. Other than that, there's not anything revolutionary, software-side.

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