August 3, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Every Android tablet has so far offered a unique form factor. The Motorola Xoom set the standard, the ASUS Transformer added a keyboard dock early-on, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the slimmest option on shelves.
Toshiba opted for another path for its Android tablet. The Thrive is the thickest Honeycomb tablet (0.62 inches) but feels lighter than one would expect (1.6 pounds). That’s because the Thrive has a replaceable back cover that leaves a hollow space between the battery and slip-resistant cover. It’s an awkward design that creates an imposing figure with a soft side underneath.
The Thrive is definitely awkward in the early moments of holding it, but users will quickly forget about the curiously-designed Honeycomb tablet. With that said, there’s no reason to be concerned with things easy to forget. What about the things worth remembering? What has Toshiba done to keep the Thrive on users’ minds?
The other stats of the Toshiba Thrive read like a “me too” of Honeycomb tablets. Just like its rivals, the Thrive has an NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 5 MP rear and 2 MP front-facing camera, and 8 GB – 32 GB of internal storage (depending on model). However, it sets itself apart physically. While the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 disappointed for its inadequate number of ports, Toshiba travels in the opposite direction and supports USB, HDMI-out, mini-USB, and microSD.
Toshiba’s inclusion of an orientation lock switch is the simplest yet most useful change. Users can flip a physical switch to lock portrait/landscape rather than changing it through software, which is useful when someone wants to easily set orientation for reading ebooks or watching videos. Media consumption has the aid of a large 10.1-inch screen with nice colors and stereo speakers that can play at a high volume. On the max setting, I was still able to clearly hear lyrics and music on Spotify up to 21 feet away.
Battery life had a bit of Jeckyl-and-Hyde deception during my informal tests. The Thrive has advertised battery life of 11 hours, and I found that under the right conditions, it hit that max. During my typical usage patterns of reading emails, looking up stuff on the web while watching TV, and playing a few games, the Thrive actually lasted longer than any tablet I’ve used. But when it came time to watch a lot of YouTube, Flash video, and locally-stored movies, it gave out faster than one would hope. Battery life will vary depending on your habits, but Toshiba will be able to last a long time unless you plan to spend an entire day watching video. (Toshiba sells removable batteries if that’s a concern.)
Next: Camera and Software