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Toshiba Excite 10 review: Toshiba Excite 10

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MSRP: $649.99

The Good The Toshiba Excite 10 supports a huge 128GB expandable memory slot, has fast Tegra 3-induced performance, a comfortable design, and Android 4.0 capabilities.

The Bad Backlight bleeding is obvious when viewing black screens on the tablet. Also, its data connection cable is unwieldy, camera performance is unimpressive, and the price is a bit too expensive compared with what's available on the market.

The Bottom Line The Toshiba Excite 10 provides Tegra 3 performance and huge expandable memory potential, but is priced a bit too high compared with other tablets.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7

Not two months after its release of the "thinnest and lightest" tablet, the Toshiba 10 LE, Toshiba is back with a new 10-inch tablet: the Toshiba Excite 10.

It's not thinner or lighter than the LE, but the Excite 10 does bring Android 4.0, a Tegra 3 CPU, and an 128GB expandable storage option to the table. That may be enough to outclass the LE, but what about tablets that offer more than just a thin profile?

Design
As the second 10-inch tablet released by Toshiba in the last two months, it feels only natural to compare it with the Excite 10 LE. The LE is both thinner and lighter than the 10, but the 10 feels like more care was put into the tablet's actual construction as it has none of the exposed edges the LE produced. In addition, the Excite 10's smooth, wide, rounded corners and textured metal backside make it comfortable to hold in my hands.

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A closer look at dat groovy back. Also, in case you forgot who makes this...

The tablet is quite bendy though. Not a deal breaker, but also not something I appreciate in a tablet. Also, the edge casing feels like it could be stripped off if I pulled hard enough. Granted, I'd need to pull really hard for that to happen. To be clear, these are more nitpicks that I noticed than serious design flaws.

Toshiba Excite 10 Toshiba Excite 10 LE Asus Transformer Pad TF300 Acer Iconia Tab A510
Weight in pounds 1.28 1.12 1.4 1.48
Width in inches (landscape) 10.3 10.1 10.4 10.3
Height in inches 7.1 6.9 7.1 6.9
Depth in inches 0.35 0.30 0.38 0.46
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 0.8 0.75 0.9 0.8

When holding the tablet in landscape, along the right side edge sit the headphone jack, Micro-HDMI, Micro-USB, and a full-size SD card slot. The slot supports SD cards up to 128GB capacity, which matches the storage capacity of the Toshiba Thrive and trumps the 32GB capacity most microSD tablet slots support. Theoretically, with the 64GB version of the Excite 10, 192GB of storage is possible. Granted, that could cost you about $800, but still, if the need of storing multiple seasons of "24" ever arose, this is one avenue to consider.

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From left to right: the huge, full-sized 128GB SD storage slot, micro USB, micro HDMI, and the headphone jack.

On the tablet's left edge are the power/sleep button, a rotation lock, and a volume rocker. Along the bottom edge are two speakers, located at the far, opposite ends. In the middle is a dock connector that uses Toshiba's oversize proprietary connection standard that connects with an appropriately oversize cable. At the far end is a downstream USB connection. The cable is longer and fatter than most and feels unwieldy and cumbersome as a result. Hopefully Toshiba implements something more streamlined in its next round of tablet designs. Beyond the design problems, despite an attempt on four different PCs, I couldn't get the tablet to show up as a drive after plugging it into either computer's USB ports.

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From left to right: the power/lock button, rotation lock, and volume rocker.

At the top middle of the bezel you'll find a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and along the top edge, about an inch away, is a small microphone slit. On the back of the tablet at the top right is a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash light directly to its left.

Software features
The Excite 10 is the first Toshiba tablet to ship with Android 4.0.3 installed. The UI is identical to what we've seen on other Android 4.0 tablets for the most part, with a few small changes. Chief among them is the Enable Balanced Power setting that appears to dim the backlight, regardless of the current brightness setting, ostensibly to save battery life.

The other is Audio enhancement, which allows access to SRS sound settings like volume boost, clarity enhancements, and others. The audio enhancement feature 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 Excite 10 was playing.

There's also Toshiba's own file manager application, which makes it easier to find and organize files stored in the tablet's internal flash or expanded memory.

Toshiba's excessively curated app store, App Place, is available by downloading the APK from the App Place Web site and installing it. App selection is limited, but most of the apps are exclusive to the App Place store and can't be found anywhere else. With no search function, however, the interface feels clunky as it requires you to know which category the app you want is in before you can download it.

Hardware features
The Excite 10 houses a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, and comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB varieties. Tablet mainstays like 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS are included as well as gyroscope, accelerometer, and digital compass support.

Performance
The Excite 10 uses an IPS panel for its screen, running at a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels; that's typical for most 10-inch tablets. The screen displayed images with a high, but accurate level of color saturation, about on par with the Asus Transformer TF300, with typically wide IPS viewing angles. When viewing black screens, however, backlight bleeding can be seen on the right and left edges of the screen.

Tested spec Toshiba Excite 10 Toshiba Excite 10 LE Acer Iconia Tab A510 Asus Transformer Pad TF300
Maximum brightness 358 cd/m2 359 cd/m2 353 cd/m2 331 cd/m2
Default brightness 154 cd/m2 249 cd/m2 118 cd/m2 135 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.41 cd/m2 0.38 cd/m2 0.22 cd/m2 0.22 cd/m2
Default black level 0.19 cd/m2 0.26 cd/m2 0.08 cd/m2 0.09 cd/m2
Default contrast ratio 811:1 957:1 1,475:1 1,504:1
Maximum contrast ratio (Super IPS) 873:1 944:1 1,604:1 1,500:1

When swiping through screens and navigating menus, the screen matches the sensitivity of most Android screens out there but can't quite compete with the uber sensitivity of the Transformer Pad TF300. Also, apps launched without delay and settings menu options appeared readily after tapping them.

Web and app download speeds matched most other Android tablets when within 5 feet of our test router, and even when up to 20 feet away, the connection retained much of its strength. While scrolling through Web sites was smooth with no noticeable clipping, images were blurred while scrolling until scrolling ceases, after which they then loaded fully. This is characteristic of all Android 4.0 tablets and is an interesting solve for the clipping problem.

Thanks to its hardware scalability, I once again used Riptide GP as a game performance benchmark. Depending on the speed of the tablet's CPU, Riptide GP will deliver a noticeable increase or decrease in frame rate. The Excite 10 delivered high frame rates that approached 60fps smoothness. Still, with its splashy screen particle effects, Riptide remains one of the very few games that take specific advantage of the Tegra 3's architecture.

As mentioned, the Excite 10 has a front-facing 2-megapixel camera and a 5-megapixel back camera; 1080p video recorded with the back camera was washed out and didn't have the kind of clarity seen on some of the better tablet cameras out there, like the iPad's or Pad TF300's. Still photos fared better, but with no autofocus built in, they sometimes came out blurry; however, the LED flash was useful in low-light situations.

The 2-megapixel front camera took fine-looking pics with serviceable detail, but you wouldn't want to use it beyond light video chat.

The 720p video playback from outside sources was smooth and crisp; 1080p files played fine. However, thanks to the connector cable not working on my model (and Dropbox not allowing large file uploads) I couldn't test how larger, 1080p files fared. Tegra 3, in my experience, though, isn't known to have problems displaying large 1080p files smoothly.

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

Tablet Video battery life (in hours)
Toshiba Excite 10 7.8

Final thoughts
The Extcite 10 comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions, starting at $450. That's the same price as the 32GB Acer Iconia Tab A510 and $70 more than the Asus Transformer Pad TF300 with 16GB. Releasing the Excite 10 at $450 with only 16GB of storage, clearly puts it at a price disadvantage compared to the other Tegra 3 tablets.

While it sports overall sound design and fast performance that matches the aforementioned tablets, its one standout feature is the high, 128GB expandable storage option. If storage is important to you, the Excite 10 is one of the best (and one of the most portable) options out there; however, with 128GB SD cards starting at about $150, the costs will begin to pile up. You'll have to decide for yourself whether those costs are worth it.

Whether having potentially monstrous levels of storage is worth the extra money is up to you.

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