Toshiba Thrive – iPad’s Worst Nightmare?

Toshiba’s Digital Products Division (a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc.), has announced that their upcoming 10.1-inch Thrive Tablet is available for pre-order at, with models starting at a suggested retail price of $429.99.

Formerly known simply as The Toshiba Tablet, Thrive is the company’s first Android-based tablet for the U.S. market, and it is coming out swinging with a list of features that seems dead-set on offering what the others don’t.

Powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 21 processor and running Google’s tablet-optimized, highly customizable Android 3.1 “Honeycomb” operating system, Thrive is a multimedia tablet that plays video (including Flash), music and games, and displays photos. The expected complement of popular Google Mobile Service applications is at our fingertips, including YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps and more, in addition to Android Market to acquire all manner of new content. It’s also an e-book reader that can surf the internet via Wi-Fi. It supports Bluetooth but its hard connections are just as impressive: USB 2.0, mini-USB, an SD Card slot for expandable storage capacity and–most excitingly for us home theater dudes–a full-sized HDMI port!

Which is not to suggest that we won’t watch our movies on the Thrive itself. The screen is a 10.1-inch (measured diagonally) 1,280 x 800 multi-touch LED-backlit TFT-LCD, with a 16:10 widescreen aspect ratio. Lesser image quality is enhanced by Toshiba’s Adaptive Display and Resolution+ upconversion technology. The tablet is equipped with a pair of high-res cameras, including a two-megapixel front-facing webcam for video chatting and such, and a print-quality five-megapixel rear-facing camera. Stereo speakers are built in, enhanced by SRS Labs audio processing technology.

The virtual on-screen keyboard supports Swype to accelerate typing with greater accuracy. The integrated gyroscope and accelerometer enable motion-sensing for smart 360-degree screen rotation and augmented control in many applications.

There’s quite a lot the Thrive can do, especially with an optional keyboard, dock and a spare back cover or two.

We had the chance to test-Thrive at a recent event, and we found the Easy Grip finish to feel quite comfortable and secure in the hands. We were surprised to discover that the back cover is removable, a Toshiba-exclusive feature in the world of tablets. This is an attractive proposition both for the sake of personalizing our gear (Blue Moon, Raspberry Fusion, Lavender Bliss, Silvery Sky and Green Apple replacement back covers will be sold separately at $19.99 each) and to uncover the removable battery. Swapping with a spare battery could add hours of use in mere seconds, and could extend the lifespan of the hardware once a pack has undergone too many recharges.

The optional Toshiba Multi-Dock with HDMI ($59.99) aids in connecting to the home theater or to other gear, as well as charging the tablet via its bundled AC adapter. The small-footprint dock also holds the Thrive at a comfortable viewing angle while keeping all of the tablet’s ports accessible.

The previously mentioned $429.99 will get us the entry-level model with eight gigabytes of embedded memory. Stepping up to 16GB will set us back $479.99 while the big-boy 32GB model lists for $579.99.

This pricing is competitive although still substantial, but with what almost amounts to a laundry list of most-wanted features arriving standard, the Thrive might just live up to its name in the no-prisoners world of tablet computing.



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