Toshiba Thrive

At a time when nearly every Android tablet on the market has the same basic specs, including a 10.1 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display and 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core processor, the Toshiba Thrive manages to stand out. That’s because this device takes a much more PC-like approach toward the tablet space than competing devices from Samsung, Acer, Asus, HTC, or Motorola.

Toshiba loaned Liliputing a demo unit to review, and we’ll have more details soon. But here are some initial impressions.

Like a personal computer, the Toshiba Thrive is easy to augment with peripherals, for instance. There’s a full-sized USB port and a full-sized SD card slot. So while you can purchase the tablet with 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of built-in storage, you can add extra storage space just by plugging in a cheap USB flash drive or SD card.

You can’t install programs to an SD card in Google Android Honeycomb, so if you plan to install a lot of apps, you might want to avoid the 8GB model. But if you’re primarily looking for a way to add extra music, movies, documents, or other files to your device, it’s probably cheaper to buy an SD card than a tablet with additional storage. The 8GB model runs $430, while a 16GB version costs $480 and the top-of-the-line 32GB tablet costs $580.

The full-sized ports aren’t just for additional storage though. Toshiba also designed a File Manager application for Android which makes it easy to copy files to and from removable storage devices.

The Thrive tablet also has a full-sized HDMI port which allows you to watch videos, play games, or just mirror your tablet’s display on a high definition television or monitor.

Another thing that sets the Toshiba Thrive apart is the removable rear panel. You can pry open the case using nothing more than your fingernails. This lets you easily replace the battery if you’re on an international flight and need more battery life or if your battery just doesn’t last a long as it once did and you want to swap it out for a new one.

As a side note: There’s a lock button on one side of the tablet which is supposed to prevent you from being able to remove the back panel. But it doesn’t really work all that well because it only connects to one corner of the lid. There’s nothing preventing you from prying most of the back cover free. You just can’t fully separate it from the rest of the tablet unless the lock switch is in the open position.

The tablet comes with a black rear panel with a soft plastic, textured finish. But you can also purchase violet, silver, green, or pink covers for $20 each if you want to give the tablet a more distinctive look.

Toshiba also loads the Thrive tablet with a couple of custom apps including its own app store, an eBook store, and a news reader. That’s not particularly unusual, as every tablet manufacturer seems to want to develop a revenue stream that goes beyond the initial sale of the tablet itself.

But the Thrive also comes with a few apps that might actually be useful including a media player with support for streaming media from UPnP capable devices on your home network, QuickOffice for editing office documents, and a 45 day free trial of LogMeIn, a remote desktop application that lets you control a PC or Mac from your tablet — effectively giving you a way not only to manage your files when you’re away from your PC, but also to sort of run desktop apps on your Android tablet (if you consider running an app on a remote computer and streaming the results to your mobile device to be a satisfying experience).

Toshiba’s Thrive tablet also features SRS audio with a number of optional multimedia enhancements such as ambient noise equalization, voice clarity enhancements, and volume boost. I’m looking forward to playing with these features more to see how they work.

I’ll have more details once I have time to do a full review of the Toshiba Thrive. But my initial impression is that Toshiba has taken some steps that really do make its tablet stand out from the crowd — and for the most part in a good way.

The Thrive isn’t the thinnest or lightest tablet available. It weighs 1.6 pounds, compared with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1’s 1.25 pound weight. It’s also longer and thicker than the Samsung tablet (you can see a few comparison shots below). But while the Galaxy Tab is certainly the most stylish of the recent Android tablets to hit the market this summer, the Thrive might be one of the most functional.

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9 replies on “First impressions: Toshiba Thrive Android tablet”

  1. Hello need help plz
    I bought an Toshiba at7-a8Gb how can I transfer file from my flash drive to the tablet ?Any application needed?
    NB: I put the flash drive into the USB cable to the tablet and nothing it happen! What is the prob?

  2. HI Brad, Thanks for this review.  I had the opportunity to see the Thrive, Samsung 10.1 and the HP TouchPad at Best Buy here in San Francisco.  BB had at least a million employees on duty so playing with anything was impossible but I really liked the back of the Thrive and the full size ports. 
    Your first impression has been helpful and I will look forward to your full review.  Since I can’t go back to Korea this Xmas (went last year for Park Hyo Shin’s last concert be military duty and of course Xmas) I think a tablet will work out just fine.  My day is not complete until I have read your posts.  Thanks again. 

  3. Speaking of old-school, I like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer’s laptop-like keyboard with trackpad, mostly because I have difficulty accurately positioning the cursor with my finger while text editing.  Does Toshiba have a dock with keyboard and trackpad for the Thrive?

  4. Do the ergonomics of the Thrive vs. the Tab make THAT much of a difference?  Because I can imagine how useful those full sized ports are, but it seems like you’d have to really carry the two tablets around for awhile before you get a feel for how the ergonomics impact the use model (if there is one) for each device.  Since there’s not going to much difference between the two devices performance wise, that’s what it comes down to:  Utility vs. Ergonomics.  Which is of course is going to call for a subjective comparison…  I don’t know since I’m never going to be able to play with both, not being a tech journalist with access to shiny devices, and you are, I’m going to be interested in your opinion on this one.

    1. I’ll keep you posted. My initial impression is that the Tab feels better in my hands — especially in landscape mode… but the Thrive feels surprisingly decent in portrait mode when you hold it with one hand. 

      But clearly Samsung sacrificed some functionality for that thin and light design. Not only don’t you get a standard USB port, but there’s no SD card slot at all.

      I think the Toshiba Thrive is one of the more promising Android devices I’ve seen so far… especially for old-school Windows and Linux hackers that like to have an array of ports and access to the inside of their computers. 

      I guess we’ll see if there are enough of those folks around to make these sorts of feature more common or if people are going to lean toward the thin and sexy devices like the iPad 2/Galaxy Tab 10.1. 

      1. Enough of those folks around to make a market worth listening to? I doubt it. I think we’re going to see more and more thin and sexy, except at the low end, where folks will put up with ugly and clunky to secure cheap. All of which is a bit unfortunate.

        1. I’m one.  So are a number of my friends…  Given the sales figures on the Xoom I think there are enough of us around to beat that device at least…

          Everyone I know who has a Android Tablet has a 7″ Tab.  Everyone else I know has an iPad.  I’ve been holding off waiting to see if this generation of tablets will be worth it…  And largely I’m not convinced.  I was so excited about the Notion Adam.  It’s gone into relative obscurity.

          With ICS and Windows 8, and Kal-El around the corner, and the fact that I do have a laptop and desktop, and the only really killer app I can think of to justify buying a tablet to the wife is e-reading…  It’s not an easy sell, so things like full height ports are a big deal to me, because they might just tip the scale.

          Or not.  Time will tell.

    2. I went in Best buy the other day just to play with the tablets.  Granted there’s only so much playing you can do with the demo units in the store, but it’s better than nothing.  My top two contenders going in were the Thrive for the ports and the Transformer.  Turns out I liked the Thrive better, it also felt light.  But weight is kind of hard to judge with the anti-theft leashes on them.

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