Buying a tablet, when you realize that tablet already feels dated before it ever leaves the box, is a tough proposition. Toshiba's history in Android tablets started at the high end with the Excite 10 LE, continued into a respectable middle end with the Toshiba Excite 10, and has taken another cost-cutting step with the Toshiba Excite 10 SE. Unfortunately, the trimmed features and build quality don't seem to be translating into much savings for you, the customer.
The Excite 10 SE (or, as Toshiba also calls it, the AT305SE) has a plastic body, replacing the aluminum one of the Excite 10. It has a Tegra 3 processor, just like its predecessor...but we reviewed that Excite in the middle of last year. The other internal specs are largely the same, but features have been removed: it has lower-resolution cameras, no HDMI port, and a microSD card slot instead of SD.
At about $349, it's more expensive than the tablet. The MeMo Pad 10 has HDMI, too. Also, incidentally, this tablet is only currently upgradable to Android 4.1.1, not to the most recent version of Android, version 4.2, aka Jelly Bean., an otherwise similarly powered Tegra 3
With Google I/O just around the corner, and newer processors on the horizon, this 10-inch tablet just doesn't feel like the wisest Android investment. It's old news, and has too many cut corners. It works...just not as well as the competition.
At 1.4 pounds, the Excite 10 SE feels right around the same weight as the Asus MeMo Pad Smart 10, or the 9.7-inch Retina Display iPad. The Toshiba Excite 10 LE was a slim, sexy metal tablet. The Excite 10 after that was thicker, but still metal. The 10 SE is another step down the budget ladder: it's clad completely in plastic. A rosy-silver "Fusion"-finish plastic covers the edges and dot-textured back instead of aluminum, and there's glossy plastic on the front instead of Gorilla Glass. It gives the tablet a much more budget-laptop feel.
I did, however, like the smaller footprint of the Excite 10 SE, at least as compared with the thinner, longer Asus MeMo Pad Smart 10. It's thicker (0.4 inch), but feels like it'll slip a bit more easily into a small bag. The slightly reduced bezels make more sense.
It's hard to wax too poetic about the Excite 10 SE's design. It's functional, but it's decidedly less sexy than previous, closer-to-high-end Toshiba tablet offerings.