Don't Just Thrive, Excite

Toshiba's Thrive tablet did modest business on release, but it was a first-generation Android tablet affair stemming from a period of time when most vendors were still trying to figure out just what this tablet craze was about. As someone who admittedly hasn't necessarily been that excited about tablets as a platform, I thought the Thrive was charming on its own but had some trouble standing out. In short, it felt like an also-ran that was bouyed in the market largely by a compelling price tag.

So if the Thrive was an opening salvo roughly equivalent to a spitball, the new Excite line of tablets is the real barrage of heavy artillery. Rather than try to figure out what the sweet spot in the tablet market is in terms of form factor, Toshiba is simply hitting all of them with the Excite 7.7, Excite 10, and Excite 13, with the numbers following them being the screen sizes of each. Each of these tablets is running NVIDIA's Tegra 3 under the hood along with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and each of them offers a micro-USB port, mini-SD card slot, micro-HDMI, stereo speakers, a 5-megapixel back-facing camera, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Toshiba has also substantially reduced the footprint of their design, with each tablet substantially thinner than the Thrive.

The original Thrive is in the lower left.

Form factor isn't the only differentiator between these models, though. The Excite 10 is essentially the least "exciting" model; it's pretty much the bog standard Android tablet, with a low 1280x800 resolution. It measures 0.35" thick and weighs 1.32 pounds, and Toshiba claims a running time of up to 10 hours on the battery. The Excite 10 is expected to retail for $449 for the 16GB model, $529 for the 32GB model, and $649 for the 64GB model.

Where things get a little more interesting is with the Excite 7.7. The 7.7" tablet enjoys a Super AMOLED display (likely Pentile, but we'll have to confirm), and while the resolution is still only 1280x800, color and contrast are absolutely stellar when compared to Toshiba's other tablets. The Excite 7.7 is 0.3" thick and just 13.4 ounces, and is expected to retail for $499 for the 16GB model and $579 for the 32GB model.

Meanwhile, the Excite 13 is an interesting experiment on Toshiba's part. It offers a 1600x900 display and is frankly pretty beefy for a tablet. Toshiba expects the Excite 13's unusually large form factor will produce new and interesting usage scenarios for tablets, and it's certainly better for watching movies than a smaller model, but whether their gamble pays off remains to be seen. The Excite 13 is 0.4" thick and 2.2 pounds, and it's expected to retail for $649 for the 32GB model and $749 for the 64GB model.

The Excite 10 will be on the market first at the beginning of May, while the 7.7 and 13 will follow in June.

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  • Visual - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    Yeah, seriously... I am getting really pissed with manufacturers by now. Been waiting for a good x86 tablet or convertible for so long now, and noone wants to make any... is there some conspiracy against me?

    I do know that I am not buying a non-convertible laptop though, and i'm not buying useless ARM crap at anything over $250 as well. Eventually some manufacturer will grow a brain and release a reasonable product... right?

    Why is it so god-damn hard? We've been so close to the goal for some years now...

    The HP tm2 nearly nailed the sweet spot back in the day, except for the ultra-crappy display trying to keep the price low. I bought it anyway, and don't regret as I am still using it. But I've been looking for a better option ever since, and can hardly believe there has been none worth considering. You'd think that now, two and a half years later, display technology should have improved enough so it should be a simple thing to release a similar budget tablet with similar relative performance with a way better display, no?

    In the higher end, the T901 was a close call as well, perhaps too overpriced but somewhat understandable considering the lack of competition in the segment. Some brain-dead product manager still succeeded to ruin its potential by deciding not to offer the dedicated GPU option in Europe, not to mention the complete unavailability of the whole model in Bulgaria, but who cares about my neck of the woods, right? But come the Ivy Bridge launch they have a chance for a second try... why aren't there any news, announcements, promises, even rumors?

    For close call options forgoing a dedicated GPU, Asus scored the dumbest blunder with their EP121, timing their launch date with that of Sandy Bridge so closely and yet not using it. It would have sold so much better... as would an Ivy Bridge refresh now if they were to make one. Personally, I would probably still prefer one of the above for their dedicated GPU despite a bulkier form factor, but I have to admit the Ivy Bridge GPU will be reasonable for a lot of users. And if they launched earlier than the cometition, I would probably not want to wait and go with it anyway. Or maybe even buy both a smaller tablet without GPU and a larger one with one.

    The final close call was the AMD Brazos... Both Acer and MSI chose to cut corners and skip an active digitizer though, and that killed their products for me. Now it is high time for a second attempt with an update to the platform and hopefully less clueless product managers.

    Who will be the first with a product to get my money?
  • markbanang - Friday, May 4, 2012 - link

    I agree, I looked at this article was hoping that there would be something to replace my ageing Toshiba M400. But yet again, I'm sadly disappointed.

    I'm not asking for much, I just want a convertible laptop with a decent battery life, an i3/5 processor rather than a Core2, support for >4GB of memory, SATA III rather than SATA II storage, USB3, multi-touch as well as pen support and a screen which is no worse (i.e. at least 1680x1050).

    These aren't huge leaps in technology, and certainly nowhere near high end laptop specs, but no-one seems to want to fill this little market niche.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    "Qosmio will be offered in a 17.3" shell with either a 1600x900 screen or a 120Hz 1920x1080 screen and NVIDIA's 3D Vision 2 glasses."

    Obviously the display will refresh at 120Hz, but will it connect at 120Hz? In other words, can I use VSYNC @ 120Hz or is it just another 120Hz panel that doubles 60Hz input?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    To my knowledge, nearly all of the PC 120Hz displays are true 120Hz displays. For laptops, they use what amounts to dual-link DVI connections for the LCD. Now if you're talking about hooking up to a 120Hz HDTV, that's where you don't actually get a 120Hz signal, particularly with some variants of HDMI.
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    OK, I know external 120Hz monitors are typically the "real deal" but I don't know much about laptop displays. Thanks for clarifying.
  • yannigr - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    $500 again? They will never learn.....
    Toshiba keep your tablets. I am going for sub $300 tablets. If I am going to give $500 for a tablet I will go and buy an Apple.
  • aranyagag - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    that was exactly the thought that entered my mind -- for near 500$ why would anyone take the lackluster screen of Toshiba vs the retina display if apple. fanboys aside
  • Impulses - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    But regardless of whether it's true or not, they HAVE to be priced lower if Google wants any significant tablet market share. Toshiba's designs still look like also-ran to me, at least ASUS is doing some innovative stuff with the 1080p panel on the revised Prime (and the original will have beat Toshiba to market by several months), they're also going sub $300 (possibly $200 if the Nexus rumors are true) with their 7" model... Which is probably the smartest thing Google can encourage.

    Frankly I don't see how a 7" tablet can possibly cost half as much as a 10", I think they're just cutting their losses and hoping volume > profit margin (see: Kindle Fire); but it's not a terrible strategy to attack Apple on the low end with smaller cheaper models while still maintaining more profitable/premium 10" models.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    Mini SD? Wasn't that deprecated? Did you mean micro?
  • Visual - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    What is wrong with these people...
    As if the Ivy Bridge delays weren't enough already... they add yet more delay for no good reason? Are they waiting for Windows 8? That would be stupid even for tablets, but for normal laptops it is absolutely no sense.

    If there was any kind of real competition, these extra months of delay would mean absolute death for their brand... but I feel like instead of competing, all the manufacturers are conspiring and just agreeing to milk us with old tech as long as possible, delaying everything newer as long as possible.

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