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Toshiba Thrive 7 inch review:

Toshiba Thrive 7 inch

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 says its Ambient Noise Equalizer adjusts the tablet's volume based on the amount of noise in the area. We tested this by playing sound from other tablets right next to it, but didn't notice a change in the volume of the music the Thrive 7-inch was playing.

Overall, the Thrive 7-inch provides a very typical Honeycomb experience, with no word yet on whether an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade is in the works.

Hardware features
The Thrive 7-inch comes packed with all the formerly impressive tablet hardware goodies we now take for granted. These include a 7-inch capacitive touch screen running at 1,280x800-pixel resolution, a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 32MB of flash memory storage, with a 16GB version of the tablet being available as well. The gyroscope, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, Bluetooth 3.0, and 802.11 b/g/n network adapter round out the hardware highlights.

Many Honeycomb tablets deliver haptic feedback for doing certain tasks. For example, pressing the home button produces a quick vibration from the tablet. However, on the Thrive 7-inch, the feedback feels less like a vibration and more of a sudden "pop" inside the device, which we found a little disconcerting. We soon realized this was not a warning sign of its imminent detonation, but only its interpretation of the haptic vibration. It just felt weird, so we shut it off anyway.

Navigating Honeycomb on the Thrive 7-inch felt fast and smooth, and its screen was noticeably more responsive than the Tab 7.0 Plus', especially during swiping.

We experienced that same smooth swiping when surfing the Web; however, after a site loaded, scrolling quickly down a page on the Thrive 7-inch produced lots of visible clipping. When you're surfing the Web, to make sure the CPU isn't wasting time drawing assets no one can see, it will only draw the assets on the screen and anything not currently on the screen will be drawn when you scroll to it. As a result, if you scroll too quickly you'll see assets being drawn in as the tablet attempts to keep up with your scrolling speed. On the Tab 7.0 Plus, with its faster 1.2GHz Samsung Exynos CPU, clipping was virtually nonexistent.

While the Samsung proprietary PLS screen technology contributes to the Tab 7.0 Plus delivering the highest levels of color reproduction on a 7-inch tablet screen, the IPS screen on the Thrive 7-inch still impresses. The Thrive 7-inch's screen delivers wide viewing angles, a high brightness, and pretty good color reproduction, if not quite as good as the Tab 7.0 Plus.

Tested spec T-Mobile SpringBoard Acer Iconia Tab A100 Kindle Fire Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Toshiba Thrive 7-inch
Maximum brightness 353 cd/m2 227 cd/m2 424 cd/m2 214 cd/m2 350 cd/m2
Default brightness 106 cd/m2 96 cd/m2 147 cd/m2 50 cd/m2 141 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.42 cd/m2 0.27 cd/m2 0.44 cd/m2 0.17 cd/m2 0.45 cd/m2
Default black level 0.12 cd/m2 0.11 cd/m2 0.15 cd/m2 0.04 cd/m2 0.18 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 883:1 840:1 980:1 1,250:1 783:1
Contrast ratio (max brightness) 840:1 872:1 963:1 1,258:1 778:1

Riptide GP, a personal watercraft game available from the Android Market, is great when comparing tablet GPU performance. Unlike Shadowgun, which seems to cap its frame rate, Riptide actually scales, and depending on the speed of the processor running it, the game's frame rate will be noticeably smoother or choppier. In our tests, the Tab 7.0 Plus delivered an obviously smoother experience than the Thrive 7-inch. Riptide on the Thrive 7-inch is still perfectly playable, it's just not as smooth.

For movie playback, both MKV and MOV movies we tried on the Thrive 7-inch wouldn't play. We received a warning that it couldn't handle those formats, but unlike the Tab 7.0 Plus, which offered to convert the same files into formats that the tablet could handle, the Thrive 7-inch offered no such option.

The Thrive 7-inch's 5-megapixel rear camera took decent still photos, but when compared with photos taken by the Tab 7.0 Plus' rear 3-megapixel camera showing higher levels of color saturation, they looked a bit washed out. Shutter lag on the Thrive 7-inch's camera was painfully slow, sometimes lasting up to 6 seconds, so whatever moment you were all set to capture could be long gone by the time it snapped. The Tab 7.0 Plus was, on average, about 2 seconds faster.

Video playback of recorded video wasn't as smooth as on the Tab 7.0 Plus; however, the Tab 7.0 Plus seemed to wash out the image too much. Surprising, given the way it handled color in pics. The Thrive 7-inch's recorded video color was much better balanced.

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 4.6

Seven-inch tablets aren't cheap. Well, full-featured 7-inch tablets aren't cheap. Though the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet offer very controlled experiences, if all you want to do is read a book, watch some movies, play a game every now and then, and surf the Web, they're good options if you're looking to spend $200 to $250 on a tablet.

If a less controlled 7-inch tablet experience is worth another $200 to you, then make sure you get the one that offers the most for the money. While the Thrive 7-inch has more ports and a more responsive screen, the Tab 7.0 Plus' faster performance and more thoughtful design make it a better choice.

The 10-inch Thrive got props for offering full ports and a swappable battery at a very decent price. Not including those same features here misses the point. The Thrive 7-inch isn't a bad tablet; there are just much more appealing options out there for your cash.

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