Toshiba will begin taking orders for the company’s first Android tablet on June 13th. The Toshiba Thrive will have a starting price of $429.99 for a model with 8GB of storage, while a 16GB version will set you back $479.99 and the top of the line 32GB model runs $579.99. All three are expected to ship in July.
While it seems like every day a new Android tablet hits the market, Toshiba is taking a few steps to differentiate the Thrive tablet from competing devices from Motorola, Samsung, Asus, HTC, and others. Toshiba execs say the key difference is that the company is making the tablet experience a little more PC-like, making it easier for people to transition from a PC to a tablet, or to use multiple devices together.
For instance, while most Android tablets have microSD card slots and microUSB ports, the Toshiba Thrive has a full sized SD card slot and full sized USB port (as well as microUSB port). This will make it easy to pop an SD card out of your camera or laptop and right into the tablet to copy or read files. Toshiba is also bundling a file manager with the tablet, something which Google intentionally left out of the Android operating system.
Ultimately, that’s one of the core differences between the way Google and Toshiba are thinking about Android tablets. Google is taking the position that you shouldn’t need a file browser, because individual apps can create and manage their files and you shouldn’t have to go digging around to find the items you’re looking for. But Toshiba is taking the approach that people who have been using Window or Mac computers for years are comfortable with file browsers and will want to be able to use a file manager to find files, copy, cut, and paste.
Another PC-like feature of the Thrive tablet is a removable back plate which allows you to replace the battery. A spare battery will run $89.99. While the standard back panel will be black, users will be able to pay extra to get blue, purple, silver, pink, or green covers.
Spec-wise the Toshiba Thrive looks a lot like other recent Android tablets. It will have a 10.1 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display, a 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core processor and run Google Android 3.1. It has stereo speakers, a 2MP front camera and a 5MP rear camera weighs 1.6 pounds and measures 0.6 inches thick.
The company says the Thrive includes “quick charge” technology which lets you go from 0 to 90 percent battery capacity in 90 minutes.
The tablet has GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth, and there’s a rotation lock switch which prevents the tablet display from automatically rotating when you shift your grip — something that it would be nice if more Android tablets had.
Toshiba is bundling a few third party apps including LogMeIn software for logging into a remote PC or Mac and controlling it from a tablet, software for sending print jobs to a networked printer.
I didn’t get confirmation on whether the LogMeIn software is a full version or a free trial. Update: Toshiba will provide a 45-day free trial of LogMeIn. You’ll have to pay $24.99 to continue using the remote desktop app after the trial expires.
Toshiba also has a media player brings audio, video, and pictures under one roof. Google has separate apps for music, movies and pictures.
There will be two different docking stations available for the Thrive tablet at launch. For $39.99 you can pick up a basic charging stand with audio output. Toshiba will also offer a multi-dock for $59.99 which has 2 USB ports and an HDMI output, allowing you to plug in an external display, keyboard, and mouse.