The Toshiba Excite 13 sports the largest tablet screen yet

Toshiba reveals the first post 10.1-inch tablet and outfits it with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor.

The behemoth. Big Daddy Don Bodine (look it up, kids) would be proud. Donald Bell/CNET

Tablet screens are evolving. So far in 2012, we've seen the iPad double its resolution to 2048x1536 and the AMOLED-based Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 reach black-level depths that were previously unheard of (but, thankfully becoming more common ) on a tablet. So where do we go from here? If Toshiba has its say, we go big.

Today Toshiba introduced the first tablet to break the 10.1-inch barrier. Its new Excite 13 sports a 13.3-inch IPS screen, running at a 1,600x900-pixel resolution and comes installed with Android 4.0.

I got a chance to briefly play around with the tablet a few weeks ago. One might expect a tablet with a 3-inch larger screen to feel a bit light but somewhat heavier than conventional 10-inchers and that's exactly what I found here.

Certain apps definitely seemed more at home on the larger screen, however. The Android Maps app in particular looked more impressive and somehow felt easier to use on the 13.3-inch screen than I'd ever experienced before.

I can only imagine what advantages the large screen might afford when playing something like Catan or other board games. Also, someone needs to make a Ouija game for this tablet, stat!

At only 0.4 inches thick the Excite 13 isn't much more substantial than most other tablets. It does weigh in at 2.2 pounds, however. Not "heavy" by any means, but definitely heavier than what I'm used to. Thankfully, Toshiba saw fit to include a stand with the tablet.

Those of you patiently awaiting the Tegra 3 quad-core tablet explosion have likely been disappointed in the last few months, but things look to be picking up. The Excite 13 houses a Tegra 3 CPU, 1GB of RAM, includes micro USB, Micro HDMI, four speakers, and like the Toshiba Thrive before it, a full-size SD card slot. A 2-megapixel front camera and a 5-megapixel back camera round out the features.

And from the "I'll believe it when I see it department," Toshiba purports a 13-hour battery life for the Excite 13. Impressive, if our tests confirm such a long duration.

We'll find out in early June when the Excite 13 arrives in stores. $650 nets you 32GB of storage, while the 64GB model will retail for $750. These are Wi-Fi-only models, and there are no current plans for carrier versions.

My initial, gut reaction to those prices is "too expensive." I know Toshiba is offering more screen real estate than any other tablet before it and includes some nice extras like Micro-HDMI and full SD support, but once you get over the excitement of the larger-than-ever screen, you've got a normal Android tablet with no added functionality like the Prime's keyboard.

That's my initial assessment at least. I'll need to spend some proper time with the Excite 13 to fairly judge whether its value. Look for a full review in early June.

 

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