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Tuesday
Aug072012

Review: Toshiba Excite 7.7 inch Android Tablet

Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

A few months ago, Toshiba showed off its new series of Excite Android tablets. The smallest member of the trio was the Excite 7.7-inch tablet which shared many features of the 10-inch and 13-inch variants but in a more portable size.

Selling for $499, the Excite 7.7 features a quad-core processor, a superb AMOLED screen,  Android 4.0 OS and dual cameras plus a variety of expansion and connectivity options.

When Toshiba Canada invited me to see their new line of ultrabooks, cameras and tablets, few things impressed me more than the Excite 7.7 inch tablet.

I am a firm believer in the portability as well as versatility of 7-inch tablets. They just make sense for most mobile users who surf the web, read documents, manage email and play casual games.

I’ve personally owned the original Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 which has since been replaced by a BlackBerry PlayBook and I have also bit the bullet on Google’s Nexus 7 which has become the tablet I carry around the most. So, I relate to 7-inch tablets very well.

Toshiba’s 7-inch tablet offering offers very few compromises compared to its larger siblings. In terms of processing power, you get the same zippy quad-core Tegra 3 processor and a gigabyte of RAM.  Toshiba sweetens the pot with a 5MP rear camera and a 2.0 MP front facing camera and the Android 4.0 OS.

The killer feature here is the AMOLED screen which is crisp, bright and simply gorgeous. It is a far better looking screen than what the other Toshiba tablets ship with and truly enhances most of the applications specially anything dealing with images, animation and video.

Expansion is another big feature of the Excite 7.7 since it comes with a micro SD card slot as well as a micro USB 2.0 slot for quick connectivity which is convenient, especially since microSD cards can be had for less than a can of beans these days. Toshiba has really managed to translate the power and utilitarian nature of its bigger tablets into a small and powerful package.

The Excite tablet itself is well put together, slim and feels well balanced. The display is covered in Gorilla Glass and the rear is encased in textured plastic.  

The tablet is a superb commuting companion. I loaded it with games like Dead Trigger and Temple Run as well as videos like a few episodes of the dialogue-heavy The Newsroom. The Excite 7.7  also worked well for Twitter and Instagram as well as reading various documents and PDF’s with the included office-type applications and Google Drive.

Some aspects of the Excite 7.7 are a bit off-putting. The large proprietary AC adaptor and plug are comically disproportionate to the slim, thin tablet and it seems mysterious that you can’t use the micro USB port to charge and sync the device, which is something available on most smartphones and tablets today.

It is also surprising that HDMI support isn’t available out of the box.  I also think that this size of tablet would have benefitted from a 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) connection specially at its price point. Having a data connection might have also won over corporate users.

Finally, there’s the high price of $500 (plus taxes). While I know that a solid quad-core processor and a great AMOLED screen  don’t come cheap, it will be hard to wrap one’s head around a 7.7-inch tablet that costs more than many 10-inch tablets and which is just $20 cheaper than a new iPad with Retina Display.

Let’s not even compare it to the Nexus 7. That tablet has a quad-core processor, one gigabyte of RAM and costs $260 (plus tax) for the 16GB version. The Nexus 7 does not have a rear camera or the micro USB and micro SD card expansion capability, although it does have a newer version of Android’s OS.

Users will really have to want that AMOLED screen and the expansion capabilities to cough up the premium price of the Excite 7.7. That said, this is is an very well-built and powerful 7-inch tablet that should appeal to most Android users looking for a compact solution.

Rating: 3.5 out of  5

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