Toshiba Thrive review:

Toshiba Thrive

Some preinstalled software includes LogMeIn, PrinterShare, Quickoffice HD, and Need for Speed Shift. Toshiba also includes some propriety software: App Place is filled with mostly cloud-based applications (already available via the Android Market) that Toshiba recommends for use with the Thrive. Start Place is a well-designed news aggregator, and Book Place is Toshiba's e-reader and book market. Media Player aggregates all media on the tablet or on the network you're connected to, making it accessible from one interface.

Toshiba also includes a video enhancement feature that pumps up the color and contrast on standard-definition video, and while we did see some improvement, it's very subtle. The audio enhancement feature, on the other hand, clearly improved the sound quality of all audio when turned on, enhancing the previously muffled sound to something with more clarity. At the highest volume we still heard some static interference, however. In addition, Toshiba's Ambient Noise Equalizer adjusts the tablet's volume based on the amount of noise in the area.

By far the best and most useful exclusive feature in the Thrive's repertoire is File Manager. This app provides native direct access to the file system, allowing you to easily launch files from the hard drive, SD card, or a connected USB thumbdrive. Directly accessing files in this manner is a nice, convenient shortcut and means you can manage files more closely.

So far, Honeycomb-based tablets have had similar Nvidia Tegra 2-based specs. The ones that have stood out for their performance had high-quality screens like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and T-Mobile G-Slate, and because of this, better visuals than their Honeycomb brethren.

The Thrive's interface is just as snappy as the others and its camera performance, including when shooting 720p video, is about Honeycomb-standard, which is very good, but not outstanding.

Attaching a full-size monitor via HDMI and playing HD video was seamless with no compression or bandwidth problems.

The In-Plane Switching (IPS) screen is about on par with other Honeycomb tablet screens, with great viewing angles, but it's missing the clarity and high color saturation of the T-Mobile G-Slate or especially the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Tested spec Toshiba Thrive Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Apple iPad 2 T-Mobile G-Slate HP TouchPad
Maximum brightness 337 cd/m2 336 cd/m2 432 cd/m2 424 cd/m2 292 cd/m2
Default brightness 131 cd/m2 336 cd/m2 176 cd/m2 143 cd/m2 85 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.24 cd/m2 0.30 cd/m2 0.46 cd/m2 0.52 cd/m2 0.38 cd/m2
Default black level 0.10 cd/m2 0.30 cd/m2 0.19 cd/m2 0.18 cd/m2 0.11 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 1,310:1 1,120:1 926:1 794:1 772:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 1,404:1 1,120:1 939:1 815:1 768:1

Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video battery life (in hours)
Toshiba Thrive 9.6

The 8GB version of the Toshiba Thrive is available for $430, andthe 16GB and 32GB versions are priced at $480 and $580, respectively. I won't go into what those prices say about the cost of memory and how easily it dictates tablet prices, but make no mistake: the Thrive's starting price is very aggressive. At $430, it's undercut only by the 16GB version of the Asus Transformer, available for $400, and, thanks to its extra features, the 8GB Thrive is a slightly better deal despite offering less storage space.

Those looking for a sleek, thin tablet should probably check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 instead. In the past we've criticized tablets for not being thin and sleek enough and preferred those that were. But the HP TouchPad didn't get dinged solely because of its bulky design; it was more that its bulky design offered no advantages. The Thrive, on the other hand, spends its extra real estate well, providing a full SD slot, a full USB port, and a full HDMI connection. Note the completely removable battery and you begin to see that the Thrive is not just bulky for bulk's sake. There's definite method to Toshiba's madness here.

Still, we would prefer it to be thinner, and the bad back camera placement and the sometimes clunky nature of its back-panel implementation won't win it any design awards.

Purchasers of the Thrive should know what they're getting into, but if you're comfortable with the extra girth, the Toshiba Thrive offers a great Honeycomb tablet experience at a very approachable price.

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