Reviews

Toshiba Thrive Review: The Honeycomb Hulk

August 3, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Reviews, Toshiba Tablets

toshiba-thrive-hulk

CAMERA QUALITY

The camera of a tablet matters most on the front because that’s where users will GTalk with their friends, family, and other contacts. The Thrive positions its 2 megapixel camera on the left side of the screen when held in landscape mode, which can lead to fingers blocking the lens. The same holds true for recording video with the rear 5 megapixel camera. Holding the device in portrait mode will put the camera at the top of the device, which makes more sense when video-chatting. If users, insist on filming in landscape with the rear camera, they must get a firm grip with their thumb high on the front and the remaining four fingers below the lens.

As for image quality, I wasn’t very impressed. Take a look for yourself.

2MP front-facing camera. Taken in low restaurant lighting and did surprisingly well.

5 MP rear camera. Taken outdoors with incadescent lighting to increase brightness.

Taken indoors on auto settings.

SOFTWARE

My father once bought me a Toshiba laptop littered with crapware. To be fair, pretty much every Windows XP manufacturer at the time was guilty of that same crime, but I was not happy to see so much junk that I would never use or desire forced upon me. It seems those values have infiltrated Toshiba’s mobile division as The Thrive comes with more pre-installed applications than any Android device that I have ever seen.

While other Android Honeycomb tablets come with a handful of pre-installed apps, most of which are actually quite useful, the Toshiba Thrive goes overboard with pre-loaded software that cannot be uninstalled. Everyone loves to tout the choices that Android users have, so why not let them choose which apps deserve to be on their device?

The following apps come pre-installed on the Toshiba Thrive:

  • App Place – a Toshiba-run app store with mostly subscription-based apps
  • Book Place – a Toshiba-run store for ebooks
  • HW – Spades, Solitaire, Euchre, Hearts, and Backgammon games
  • Kaspersky Tab – a trial of a mobile antivirus app
  • LogMeIn – a remote desktop control app (membership required)
  • Media Player – Toshiba’s music, video, and pocast player; photo viewer and media server client
  • MOG Music – music streaming service (membership required)
  • Need for Speed Shift – demo of racing game
  • PrinterShare – an app to link tablet to wireless printers (not tablet optimized)
  • Quick Office – create and edit Office documents
  • Start Place – a collection of select Associated Press news stories

Bloatware aside, the Toshiba Thrive software should already be familiar to its users. The Thrive runs a standard version of Android 3.1. That means it’s liable to have all of the same triumphs as other Android Honeycomb tablets, including excellent apps for Gmail, YouTube, Google Books, and Movie Studio. It also has a great browser that can sync bookmarks, history, and account info with the desktop Google Chrome, as well as use the Labs function that Google previewed at I/O 2011.

Sadly, the presence of Android 3.1 also means the Thrive suffers some of Honeycomb’s failures. The dearth of quality tablet-optimized apps, the occasional inexplicable glitch, and a slow pause when switching orientation take away from the enjoyability of the Thrive. Toshiba has also acknowledged that the Thrive suffers from a strange wake bug and plans to fix it. One can only hope the coming update will also provide an option to disable the Wi-Fi access and power lights that stay on all the time.

Here’s a look at some of Toshiba’s software

CONCLUSION

Someone might hold a Toshiba Thrive and think that the device is too big. While it’s definitely huge, it’s not heavy. Over the past two weeks, I have used it exclusively for all tablet needs and I never noticed any adverse differences between the Thrive and my GTab 10.1 (aside from the slow wake issue Toshiba has already addressed). The Thrive is portable and has great connectivity options, so I very much enjoyed my time with the device. My only major issue is the amount of software that is forced on someone the moment the device is first loaded. If someone is willing to give a company hundreds of dollars, that person should not be told which third-party software should remain on the device.

The Toshiba Thrive is a solid option for anyone in the market for a Honeycomb tablet. I’d say that it should be of special interest to people looking for more storage size options and the ability to accessorize. The Thrive comes in 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB varieties, so cloud advocates can get the smallest size while locally-stored mediaphiles can opt for the larger capacity. They can also swap out different-colored rear plates, purchase portfolio cases, connect to televisions, and get a media dock to expand your video and streaming options. Whichever model or add-on the user gets, he or she will find a tablet that is readily product and personal.

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