Toshiba’s No-Nonsense 'Thrive' Tablets

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Once the leading maker of laptop computers, Toshiba hopes to thrive again with the aptly named Thrive Tablet. The three 10.1-inch touch screen models, expected to ship in mid-July, differ only in the amount of internal storage: the TOAT105T108 with 8-gigabytes  ($429.95), TOAT105T1016 with 16GB ($479.95), and TOAT105T1032 with 32GB ($579.95).

All come with the Android 3.1 Honeycomb operating system. (Coincidently, “Thrive” rhymes with “hive.”) The multitouch LED-backlit display offers a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. The screen’s brightness and contrast are automatically adjusted to the ambient light, thanks to Toshiba’s adaptive display technology. The tablets contain front (2MP) and back (5MP) cameras.  The latter is capable of 720p video capture.

Toshiba is building in at least four hardware features not seen in iPads: an SD card slot (full size), two USB ports (one standard 2.0 and one mini), a full-size HDMI output and a user-replaceable battery. To change the battery, you simply remove the Easy Grip Back cover. That means you’ll be able to travel with a second, swap-ready battery for emergencies. The 6-cell battery should power the tablet for about seven hours, according to a preliminary estimate by Toshiba. Another difference from iPads is that the Thrive supports Adobe Flash—and that’s no jive.

Under the Thrive hood is an NVIDIA Tegra 2 chip set, 1 GHz Dual-Core Mobile Processor and NVIDA GeForce Graphics chip. Each model has 1GB of internal DD2 RAM. In combination, these specs deliver speedy performance and the ability to multitask.

Each tablet is equipped with stereo speakers, Bluetooth 3.0 + HS connectivity and 802.11b/g/n Wi-FI. A gyroscope and an accelerometer are built in.

A bevy of applications are pre-loaded. They include the Android Browser, Google Search, Gmail and Google Maps with Street View, Google Talk, Google Calendar/Synch, Toshiba BookPlace, Android Music Player, Google Movie Maker, Google Music and YouTube. A bunch of games are also bundled including Need for Speed Shift. You can download more apps from the Toshiba App Place or Android Market.

The Thrive ships with a standard Metallic Black back-plate cover but there are more colorful options at $19.99 each: Robotic Green, Berry Bliss, Oxford Blue, Metallic Silver and Iris Moon. The form-fitting design makes switching back covers a breeze. Each is constructed with Toshiba’s slip-resistant and rubberized Easy Grip surface. The tablet weighs about 1.6 lb.