Toshiba Excite 7 review:

A functional budget tablet lacking extras

The Excite 7's inconsistent touch screen combined with randomly buggy behavior made for a couple frustrating experiences, like the one above. Skype would often crash while trying to start a video conference and, for those who care, it's not compatible with Instagram.

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No selfies for you! Xiomara Blanco/CNET

When many apps are open at once, performance notably slows down. The same can be said of attempting to multitask, or when downloading various files. Performance is considerably smoother if you execute one task at a time.

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Closing all apps before gaming results in better performance. James Martin/CNET

As a gaming device, the Excite 7 doesn't exactly live up to its name. Simple mobile games run smoothly, as long as there aren't a lot of apps running in the background, and larger games take a longer time to load but run smoothly -- again, as long as there aren't a lot of apps open.

Device CPU GPU RAM OS tested
Toshiba Excite 7 1.6GHz quad-core Rockchip RK3188 Mali 400MP 1GB Android 4.2.2
Dell Venue 7 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2580 Power VR SGX544 2GB Android 4.2.2
Amazon Kindle Fire HD (2013) 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4460 Power VR SGX540 1GB Amazon Android Mojito 3.0
Google Nexus 7 (2104) 1.2GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 ULP GeFOrce (12-core) 1GB Android 4.3
3DMark (Normal)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Excite 7

The speakers are awkwardly placed on the bottom edge if holding the tablet in portrait-orientation, so when switching to landscape to watch video, you end up slightly blocking one of the speakers with your palm. This might be a blessing in disguise, as the speakers themselves are unimpressive at best.

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It's easy to block the speakers when holding the tablet in landscape orientation. James Martin/CNET

The Excite 7 features SRS WOW audio enhancements that can be used via headphones or the built-in stereo speakers. When turned on, the feature helps audio sound a bit more full, but, unfortunately, the dingy stereo speakers still produce flat sounding, tinny audio. The different movie, music, and voice modes did make an audible difference, but the enhancement couldn't overcome the tablet's poor quality speakers.

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The SRS WOW audio enhancement sounds more like a MEH enhancement. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

The 3.0-megapixel rear camera takes photos that look sharp enough on the 7-inch display, but appear dull in sharpness and color when seen on a higher resolution screen. Colors in the photos are washed out and the white balance settings appeared to have either exaggerated tones or do nothing to visibly enhance the photo.

Pictures taken in dim environments often appear full of noise and, with no focus options, blurry photos are very common. The panoramic option did a decent job at capturing and stitching an entire scene, granted it still resulted in drab colors and fuzzy focus.

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Photos come out fuzzy with washed out colors. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

On the front, the 0.3-megapixel camera gets the job done for video conferencing, but photos look as if there's some type of pencil-drawing-effect filter over it, which looks kinda cool to me, but if you want something less unintentionally artsy-fartsy, its dull, grainy, and over-contrasted results aren't as charming.

Anecdotally, the Toshiba Excite 7's battery life is pretty average. On a full charge, it lasted about a day with casual use, but I noticed the battery drained considerably faster when the brightness was cranked all the way up. Check back for the CNET Labs official battery test results.

When it comes to budget 7-inch tablets, $149 is the new $199, and the Toshiba Excite 7's $169 starting price misses the cut with an underwhelming experience spearheaded by lackluster performance, a dull screen, and plastic-y build quality.

The battle of the budget is getting fiercer and a 7-inch tablet with mediocre specs priced under $200, just won't cut it anymore. You can get more for less in the $139 Amazon Kindle Fire HD which features a better screen, or the $149 Dell Venue 7, which smoothly runs a pure version of Android Jelly Bean. However, an upgrade to a superior small tablet, like the Google Nexus 7 or Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7, isn't too far away.

Budget tablets are expected to compromise performance and design to meet their bargain prices, but every year the standard for what's expected from a budget tablet increases. Unfortunately, the Toshiba Excite 7 sacrifices too much in value while keeping its price a tad too high to be worthy of a purchase.

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