Introducing the Thrive 7”
Toshiba today unveiled the latest member of its Thrive tablet family--the Toshiba Thrive 7”. (That 7" is part of the product's name.) Seven-inch tablets are on the rise, thanks to Google's summertime update of its Honeycomb platform to Android 3.2, which let Honeycomb scale properly to smaller-size displays. (See our hands-on look at the new Thrive.)
The new Thrive is due out in December and, while pricing hasn't yet been finalized, the numbers Toshiba tossed out as possibilities seem a bit high. According to the company, the 16GB tablet will "probably cost" $379 to $399, and the 32GB may cost $429 to $449.
This 7-inch Thrive runs a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU and 1GB of memory. It's the first pure 7-inch model to be announced as offering a high-resolution 1280-pixel-by-800-pixel display.
Samsung already announced at September's IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin that its Galaxy Tab 7.7 would have the same resolution, but that model has a slightly larger (7.7 inch) display. For some perspective, that's also the same resolution currently used on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Sharp Text Display
Pixels clearly matter. When I tried out a preproduction unit in advance of Samsung's announcement, the 7-inch Thrive had the crispest, cleanest text I've seen yet on an Android tablet.
Its text rendering--something I've often cited as a weakness of Android 3.X Honeycomb tablets--appeared smooth, and I didn't get the sense that I was looking at type from a dot-matrix printer. Shown here: Text rendering of Google Books' Alice in Wonderland on the new Thrive.
Thin and Light
The 7-inch Thrive felt surprisingly lightweight in my hand. When I held the 0.47-inch-thick tablet in one hand, it reminded me of holding a first-generation Kindle e-reader. It was mostly comfortable, but certainly had room to slim down more--of course, stand-alone e-readers have been doing that since their initial introductions.
What struck me was how balanced this tablet felt--lighter than its listed 0.88 pound and comparable to the first-generation 7-inch Galaxy Tab, which weighed 0.86 pound. However, the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 will weigh even less, at 0.75 pound. So, while the Thrive is light, it's not the last word in tablet weight.
Plenty of Connectivity
What the new Thrive has that the Galaxy Tab 7.7 lacks is ports galore. It has no full-size ports, though, unlike its larger Thrive sibling. The 7-inch Thrive has micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, and a microSD card slot--all under a single, neat flap.
Good to Grip
The 7-inch Thrive has a grippy back that has a design similar to that of the original Thrive. But I liked this version's better: The grooves weren't nearly so deep, which means nothing will get caught inside of them.
This Thrive also has two cameras: A 2-megapixel front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, with LED flash.
Toshiba will have a selection of accessories available for the 7-inch Thrive. These accessories include a $25 sleeve case, a $20 neoprene slip case with wrist strap, and a $40 charging dock with audio-out port. Shown here are the $40 FlipBook Case and the $70 Bluetooth keyboard.
FlipBook Case From Toshiba
The nifty FlipBook Case uses the simple wonders of Velcro to let you easily switch the tablet's orientation from portrait to landscape. The case adds some bulk, but it's worth the added flexibility.