Toshiba Thrive Review

This week I got a chance to play with the Toshiba Thrive. And the first thing I noticed about this Android Tablet is its rather robust in its design and a tad hefty. Also, with its 10.1” wide-screen touchscreen, with a resolution of 1280 x 800, it’s easy to see how Toshiba had movie watching in mind. But the sad fact is, that’s pretty much all I’d really use the Thrive for, that and maybe some Facebook or Twitter. And even then, there’s an utter lack of frustration in the experience that really isn’t Toshiba’s fault … it’s Android’s.

First off, before we get into that, let’s break down it’s specs.

Hardware

Dimension wise, the Toshiba Thrive is a bit thick at .62 inches, and could stand to go on a diet with a weight of 1.6 lbs. The tablet is 10.75” x 6.97” x 0.6, and has a ribbed, rubberized, non slip backing which makes the user feel like it’ll stay in hand without worry. The Thrive has a wide screen a dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 chip and 1GB of RAM – pretty mainstream in the Android Tablet market. That makes it great for video gaming and watching a movie on it’s 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 screen. But sadly, the speakers that come with the Thrive are woefully terrible – very tiny and distorted – almost like a cheap AM radio. And the volume buttons are backwards?! Very strange. So if you’re going to do anything that requires listening to audio, the best bet is to use a pair of headphones.

Other features include a full-size HDMI for connecting to your HDTV, but you can also take advantage of the latest fun feature in the mobile world – mirroring, where the video image can be wirelessly streamed to a compatible HDTV. The Thrive also comes with either 8 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB and it has the usual SD card slots for increasing your on board storage. There’s also the usual USB plug. Navigation buttons are all virtual through the Android 3.1 Honeycomb OS, giving the screen a tad more real estate.

The Thrive also uses dual cameras – one a typically cheap 2mp for video chat and then a 5 MP rear facing camera, which frankly I don’t consider a big deal because if I’m out and about taking pictures, I’m doing it with my smart phone. Using a tablet for taking photos is just, plain ungainly.

The Thrive comes with a removable 2030 mAh battery which claims a battery life of 11 hours.

Performance

OK, now that we’ve gotten the physical description out of the way, let’s turn it on. The power button on the upper right is really nothing to write home about. It works. It’s not super responsive, meaning you have to push down solid and hold for a second, but what else is new? And ironically, turning off is faster. But do I really have to confirm I want to turn it off? I guess it’s prudent, but come on. I turned it off, didn’t I? Don’t ask again.

Boot time to the screen is about average – as it has to run through a tedious flash animation while it loads the Android OS. Then you have move the lock to get to the main screen. There, you get the basic Android experience.

Now some like Android, and that’s fine. But I really don’t care for it. It’s the “PC” to the iOS’s Mac. Clunky and not ready for prime time. You have to go into settings and then manage applications just to force close or uninstall an App and that’s just plain tedious. Booting into apps like Facebook, Twitter and the Browser is fairly fast though, but I had several crashes with other apps. But that may be the fault of the apps themselves. Downloading, even on a broadband WiFi connection took longer than I would have liked. In fact, when watching trailers at Quicktime Trailers, I often had to wake the tablet up. And there were several trailers I just plain gave up on. Watching YouTube, I sometimes had stutter. On the iPad, by contrast, they would pop right up and start playing with great audio and no jitter. The Thrive handles Flash pretty well, don’t get me wrong, but cheap mono audio and streaming live video left me with a lackluster, “artifacty” experience.

The screen is crisp if you’re watching video indoors and away from a strong light source. Otherwise the glare from the screen can be off putting unless you angle it slightly. But even at extreme angles you can watch the screen, making sharing a video doable.

But where the Thrive really shines is in game play.  We played the demo of Need for Speed and the game was extremely responsive and fun to play (too bad I stink at driving games). Playing Angry Birds was a ton of fun with decent graphics, but the sounds simply doesn’t cut it unless I use headphones.

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Skype worked via WiFi, and that’s where you’re reliant because the Thrive has no 3G connection, so you have to Skype where you’re WiFi connection is.

And as for battery life? Suffice it to say that like all PR Specifications that promise long battery life, the promise more hype than reality. I found the Thrive, with regular use, didn’t last the day, making it necessary to plug in at least once. And while we’re talking about plugging in, what’s up with the laptop size AC Adapter? Most tablets come with a tiny USB/AC plug, but Toshiba went old school and that means lugging around a hefty AC. FAIL.

At the end of the day, the Toshiba Thrive proves once again why the iPad enjoys a 24-1 sales ratio over all Android tablets. Although well put together, with a very wide screen cinematic design, it’s simply average in performance, making the name “Thrive” somewhat a misnomer.   If you’re an Android geek, this may be a tablet for you.

Editor’s Rating:

[rating:3/5]

Good

The Bottom Line:  If you’re all about all around execution, then, at prices starting at $499, it should perform far better than it does.  But like I said, it isn’t really it’s fault.

Pros:

  • Wide screen high resolution touchscreen
  • Great for game play with Tegra 2 processor
  • Rubberized, non slip backing

Cons:

  • Horrible, mono speakers on board
  • Android 3.01 OS not ready for Tablets
  • A bit heavy to hold

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21 Comments

  1. This is what you can do with a Thrive and not with an Ipad.
    Copy and paste folders, movies, pics, create new or delete folders, it seen as hard drive on your PC. There is no need an external program like ITunes.
    It has an excellent internal file manager with copy, paste and move.
    You can attach a file to email.
    It plays every video format including MOV
    It has an SD card slot.
    Full HDMI connector.
    USB sticks are mounted, i tried my USB drive, 360GB without a problem, the only flaw is that you have to format the drive to Xfat,
    Removable battery.
    The IPad is a great device but is limited, great for surfing web sites games, pictures.
    I use my Thrive as a replacement for my net book with an external keyboard, USB or blue tooth.

  2. Could he be any more obvious of an ipad fanboy ipad users don’t like the android tablets because they have to figure out what to out on it where as apple limits what u can install to many options tends to infuriate ignorant and biased people

  3. I have had this for about 4 months. It is fantastic. James who reviewed this, just doesn’t get it. Go play with your I pad, or the rest, See what kind of connectivity,you get. This is just what you need. Can’t wait for ice cream to hit this baby. Picture is beautiful. The only thing
    I agree with is that the speakers could use a little upgrade. Other than that outstanding.  

  4. This miserable, ignorant, negative, and usless review of a fine product makes me very angry.
    The writer clearly is not interested in the Toshiba Thrive…. Cut and Paste review!!!

  5. Don’t buy the Toshiba Thrive!  In less than 2 months the screen cracked from normal use.  Seems to be a design flaw, crack started from under the chrome piece around the camera.  Warranty does not cover cracked screens at all.  We now have a $400 paper weight.  Other reviews online show cracks in the same place but Toshiba will not admit to any design flaws.  The tablet can be repaired at their cost at our expense!  I think NOT!

    1. I have had my thrive for 6 months and use it primarily for work and am not babying it but for the life of it can’t figure out how you cracked the screen under “normal use” as for the other reviews statement Google search your issue that problem does not make the list as a manufactures flaw by the way what tablet company will warranty a screen that you broke……
      None. Apple won’t go ask all the iPhone users

      1.  Believe it!! I just bought a new Thrive less than a month ago and last night i picked it off the coffee table (4 fingers under the bottom and thumb on the glass) while walking to my bedroom i heard a crack sound. When i got to my my bedroom i put the thrive on the bed and was shocked that the damn glass was cracked!!! YES.. CRACKED from just that!! I read the reviews on the forums regarding cracked screens and thought for the most part.. it was a fluke or bad luck to those affected, but now i am a believer… TOSHIBA HAS A DESIGN FLAW WITH THESE SCREENS. THEY SHOULDN’T CRACK FROM NORMAL USE!!!

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  7. Uh, your article is filled with technical/logical errors (And then a few personal issues of mine lol):
    1.) The Thrive never shipped with anything lower than 3.1
    2.) The Thrive’s speakers are not ‘mono’ (single channel) but are in fact stereo (dual channels/speakers).  My dad is an audiophile (buys 500$ headphones, etc) and says that while the audio from the two Thrives we own don’t sound spectacular, they sound pretty good for a mobile device.  The iPad’s speakers are only mono, just to point that out.
    3.)”Boot time to the screen is about average – as it has to run through a tedious flash animation while it loads the Android OS.” You can say the same thing about the iPad (which you are an obvious fanboy of) where you sit and watch the (static) Apple logo while it boots. 
    4.) Are you complaining about having to ‘move the lock’? The iPad forces you to swipe to unlock it, and you can’t disable it to my knowledge.  Honeycomb allows you to do this.
    5.) You do not have to go into settings to uninstall an app.  You go to Market—>My Apps—>App you want to install—->Uninstall.  Takes an extra 8 seconds, if that.  Not to mention you can install apps onto the device from your computer.
    6.) I’ve used the flash feature, and its awesome.  Plays 720p even, and if you don’t like the speakers (which are STEREO, not mono) then use a pair of headphones.

    The Thrive is an excellent piece of technology with some minor quirks, most of which can be fixed with software updates (*Ahem*ICS*Ahem*).  The only problems with the actual device I have is the power button and volume buttons.  They seem a little mushy and the volume buttons are reversed which can be a little confusing at first.  Android seems to have some quirks, but nothing that interferes or detracts from the experience.  An occasional force close happens, but its the developers fault, not Toshiba’s or Google’s, and there are a few performance hiccups (Google’s fault on that one for putting all of the graphics rendering on the CPU which is fixed in ICS).  Just to make things clear, I’m not a fanboy and have owned Apple, Microsoft, Toshiba, Samsung, etc etc devices (You all get the picture so I’m speaking from an unbiased point of view :).  

  8. I loaded the Advanced Task Killer app and my battery lasts all day, by bedtime I am about 33%. This is with me streaming netflix for my lunch hour.

      1. Yes, one of the things i forgot to address in my previous comment.  The task killer in Android stinks as its buried in the settings menu.  But a quick download fixes that.  Android handles processes very well actually, especially considering its an OS on top of an OS.

  9. You would expect the writer to at least attempt some simblance of acuracy.  To put it bluntly the Thive has never had less than Android 3.1 it has stereo speakers “Mono by Definition means one”
    I bought my wife an Ipad as it is simple easy to use and it is what she asked for, however I own a thrive.  I am certain that by the looks of the home screen that has all those icons on it that an equal amount of apps is running at the same time, and yes the Thrive will run them all at the same time, where as the Ipad has no true multitasking capabilities.  I would reccomend you take this down as it seems you are no more informed than Morris Clayborn at Foxnews. I love Fox news by the way.  

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