One of the key things setting the Toshiba Thrive apart from other Android tablets is that the Thrive has full-sized USB and HDMI ports. I’ve already tested the tablet’s ability to read data from a USB flash drive, so I decided to take the next step and test the HDMI port.
I have a 1080p television hanging out in my basement, so I wandered downstairs to connect the tablet to the TV using an HDMI cable. At first I thought nothing was happening, but it turns out I had to wiggle the cable a little bit to make sure it was snug. Once I did that, almost everything on the tablet’s screen was mirrored on the TV set.
I say almost everything, because the menu buttons and status icons at the bottom of the screen didn’t show up. That makes sense, since you can’t actually touch them on the TV display. Instead, you continue to interact with the tablet by touching it — but the TV acts as a secondary display.
Anything you can do on the tablet you can also do with a TV plugged in. That includes playing videos, listening to music, surfing the web, or playing games. In the video below I demonstrate video playback and a quick round of Angry Birds.
The HDMI cable also carries audio to the television. When plugged in, you’ll hear sound from the TV but not from the tablet.
My only complaint with the Toshiba Thrive’s HDMI feature is that there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to turn off the tablet screen while continuing to watch a video on a TV or monitor. There’s no really good reason that you should have to see the same video on two screens.