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Toshiba Excite 7 review: A functional budget tablet lacking extras

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The Good The Toshiba Excite 7 tablet is competitively priced and features a microSD card expansion slot.

The Bad Its plastic-y body feels cheap and performance slows significantly if multiple apps are open. The low resolution screen looks pixelated and dull compared to other similarly priced tablets, and it's sometimes unresponsive.

The Bottom Line Though low-priced, the Toshiba Excite 7 fails to offer as much value as other budget tablets.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

Even though the Toshiba 7 has a temptingly low-price, if you're in the market for a budget tablet, keep your options open. The Excite 7 isn't as breathtaking as its name would suggest, donning an overwhelmingly plastic design and unfashionably dull display that's accented by lackluster performance.

At its $169 starting price, 7-inch device lacks any interesting or compelling reason to choose it over tablets in the same price range with similar specs, better performance, and higher screen resolutions.

With the number -- and quality -- of tablets under $200 impressively increasing, the Toshiba Excite 7 morosely falls short of ranking in the top budget tablet list.

If the Excite 7 looks familiar, it's probably because it features Toshiba's tablet house design for 2013. The same black-bezel and textured plastic gray backside that's seen on 10-inch Excite tablets, like the Pro, Pure, and Write, is also found on the 7-inch slate.

Tested spec Toshiba Excite 7 Dell Venue 7 Amazon Kindle Fire HD (2013) Google Nexus 7 (2014)
Weight in pounds 0.76 0.52 0.86 0.66
Width in inches (landscape) 7.8 7.6 7.7 7.8
Height in inches 4.6 4.6 5.4 4.5
Depth in inches 0.43 0.38 0.4 0.34
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 0.9 n/a 0.9 1

The bumpy texture on the plastic back panel works better on the Excite 7's smaller form, helping slightly to grip the device. Although its back panel has rounded edges, the front panel features a rigid edge that can uncomfortably dig into your palms if held at an angle leaning towards your body.

The front edges of the tablet slightly dig into your palms at certain angles. James Martin/CNET

For such a girthy tablet, the device feels slightly hollow -- and cheap -- when you hold it, but it's still rather comfortable to hold. However, it doesn't provide a melt-in-your-palms experience.

The 7-inch Excite's design is geared towards a portrait-orientation, with all of the ports on the top edge, speakers on the bottom edge, and power button on the right. The top edge houses the volume rocker, microSD card expansion slot, micro-USB port, and headphone jack -- which doubles as a microphone jack.

All of the ports are located on the Excite 7's top edge. James Martin/CNET

The Excite 7 tablet ships with an almost pure version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and comes loaded with some Toshiba software, including Service Station -- which manages app updates -- a file manager, and user's guide.

The Toshiba Excite 7 houses a 1.6GHz quad-core Rockchip RK3188 CPU, Mali 400MP quad-core GPU, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, with a microSD card expansion slot.

The textured back panel is relatively comfy. James Martin/CNET

The front of the tablet houses a 0.3-megapixel camera, with a 3-megapixel one on the rear. Other additions include an accelerometer and Bluetooth 4.0.

A sub-par screen on a budget tablet is expected, but even with low standards, the Excite 7 falls short of providing a visually stunning display. Colors are slightly dull and the 1,024x600 resolution is evident in visibly pixelated small text and images.

HD video looks decent at best. James Martin/CNET

Tested spec Toshiba Excite 7 Dell Venue 7 Amazon Kindle Fire HD (2013) Google Nexus 7 (2014)
Maximum brightness 340 cd/m2 342 cd/m2 394 cd/m2 570 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.45 cd/m2 0.37 cd/m2 0.41 cd/m2 0.44 cd/m2
Maximum contrast ratio 755:1 924:1 960:1 1,295:1

The tablet has good viewing angles but, depending on the environment you're in, sometimes the glare overwhelms the image on screen.

The touch screen occasionally lagged and was sometimes unresponsive. A few times, my swipe to unlock the screen was recognized, but the gesture didn't result in the device unlocking itself, no matter how many times I swiped. Instead of looking like a frustrated toddler playing Fruit Ninja with my lock screen, I set it down and tried again a few minutes later with no problems.

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