Toshiba Thrive review: Toshiba Thrive

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0

Average User Rating

3 stars 4 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Toshiba Thrive's very aggressive pricing gives it an advantage over most other tablets. Its grooved back, full HDMI and USB support, full SD card slot, and replaceable battery justify its very bulky design. Also, its built-in file management system makes finding and accessing files in Honeycomb easier.

The Bad The Thrive's bulky design and hefty weight are not for everyone. Also, awkward back camera placement and a difficult panel removal process make us wish more time had been spent in the design phase. The LED lights on the bezel can be distracting.

The Bottom Line The Toshiba Thrive is a bulky but aggressively priced Honeycomb tablet that earns its girth with full port support and a removable battery.

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Tablets are generally expected to be "thin and light" small computers with unobtrusive interfaces. Some tablets are thinner and lighter than others, however. While we've praised tablets like the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 for their sleekness and dinged the HP TouchPad for being too bulky, the Thrive poses an interesting question. Is a bulky tablet inherently a bad thing or can a tablet justify its extra mass?

Design
While most other tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 , show efforts to emulate Apple's thin, light, and minimalist iPad 2 design, Toshiba hurls the Thrive right into the soft, supple face of the notion that tablets should be designed this way. Sure, at 1.66 pounds the Thrive is relatively light compared with, say, a laptop or even a Netbook, but at that weight, it's as heavy as the heaviest tablet we've seen and its 0.63-inch depth makes it nearly twice as thick as either the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the iPad 2.

Toshiba Thrive Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Apple iPad 2 T-Mobile G-Slate HP TouchPad
Weight in pounds 1.66 1.24 1.34 1.38 1.6
Width in inches (landscape) 10.75 10.1 9.5 9.6 9.5
Height in inches 7 6.9 7.3 5.8 7.4
Depth in inches 0.63 0.34 0.34 0.49 0.45
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 1 0.8 0.8 0.9 0.85

Toshiba's intent with the Thrive was to make a tablet that more closely met the needs of a typical laptop user, and as you can see from the specs above, the Toshiba Thrive is one of the heaviest, widest, and deepest tablets we've yet seen. As Honeycomb tablets go, it's very much the anti-Galaxy Tab 10.1. While the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is all smooth, sleek, sexy, and devoid of ports, the Thrive is anything but, and its measurements only tell half the story.


The Toshiba Thrive compared with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. We told you it was thick.

Upon picking up the Thrive, the first thing we noticed was its grooved back panel, which provides an easy-to-grip texture. While our model's panel was black, the panel is removable and can be swapped out for a panel in one of five other colors (green, purple, blue, pink, and silver), available for $20 each. Removing the panel requires that you dig your fingernails into the speaker indentations and then carefully, but firmly, pull back. Given the manner in which the panel is connected to the tablet, when pulling it off you may get the impression that you're breaking something, and although we didn't break anything, we can't rule out the possibility and we wish the panel came off more easily.

Once the panel is off, the removable battery can be accessed, removed, and finally swapped with an extra battery Toshiba has priced at $80. The battery measures 5.1x5.5 inches, with about a 0.25-inch depth. Removing the battery is simpler and easier than removing the back panel, although replacing both battery and panel is easy. There's also the option to lock the back panel into place, which seems unnecessary since it's pretty firmly attached once placed properly, and if locked and forgotten could easily cause someone to break it by trying to pull the panel off while it's in a locked state.


The back panel is removable and swappable with up to five other colors. The battery is revealed here. It's the large light gray plate on the left.

When held in landscape mode, the top of the tablet holds, from left to right, the power button, volume rocker, and rotation lock. Both the volume rocker and rotation lock are easily accessed, but the power button is embedded a tad too deeply and requires a more focused press to actually click. It's nowhere near as bad as the BlackBerry PlayBook's, which requires a pen to access properly, though.

On the opposite end of the top edge is the full-size SD card slot, which accepts cards of up to 128GB in capacity. Near the power button, on the bezel, are three LED indicator lights that glow to indicate when the power is on, when the battery's charging, or when wireless or Bluetooth is switched on. While you'd likely get used to the lights after a while, they're not typical of the tablet experience and can be distracting if you're looking for a completely clean interface.

On the bottom right side are the power and headphone jacks. Above them is a 3-inch-long door, concealing the full USB port, full HDMI port, and Mini-USB port. On each of the far sides of the bottom edge sit 1-inch-long speakers. In the middle of the bottom edge is a dock connector port.

The cameras are located on either side on the bezel in the middle of the tablet's left side. We found that when holding the Thrive in landscape mode, our fingers naturally blocked the rear lens. And while it's easy enough to move your finger down and out of the way, it's also less comfortable to hold it like that, especially given the tablet's heavier-than-average weight.


We think the Thrive's rear camera is ill-placed as evidenced by the fact that our fingers covered it virtually every time we turned it on.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul. 10, 2011
  • Wireless Connectivity Bluetooth 3.0 HS
    IEEE 802.11n
    Bluetooth 3.0 HS
    IEEE 802.11b
    IEEE 802.11g
  • Type Android 3.2 (Honeycomb)
  • Weight 1.6 lbs
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Processor NVIDIA Tegra 2
About The Author

Eric Franklin is a section editor covering how to and tablets. He's also co-host of CNET's do-it-yourself and how-to show, The Fix and is a 20-year tech industry veteran.