Editors' note: Thanks to the release of recent, high-quality tablets, the overall score of the Toshiba Excite 7.7 has been adjusted down from 7.3 to 6.5.
In addition to packing a Tegra 3 quad-core processor and an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS like the rest of its relatives, it's the only Excite member (and the only tablet other than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7) to pack an AMOLED screen.
Compact, thin, and zippy, this Wi-Fi-enabled device is going for $500 for the 16GB version. If you want to double that amount of storage to 32GB, you'll need to fork over $80 more.
When held in landscape mode, the Toshiba Excite 7.7 measures 8 inches wide, 5.31 inches tall, and is about a fourth of an inch thick. Weighing in at 0.77 pound, it feels light in the hand and is easy to maneuver. It fits great in a backpack, and you can easily slip it in a medium to large shoulder bag or purse. Keeping in mind that I have small hands, the bezel around the display was wide enough so that I can still grasp the tablet without accidentally touching the screen.
On top of the device there's a power button, a screen rotation lock/unlock toggle switch, a volume rocker, and a small opening for the internal microphone. To the right are a 3.5mm headphone jack, a port for a Micro-USB, and a microSD card slot. Unfortunately, there is no Micro-HDMI support on this thing. At the bottom there are two output speakers and the power/docking connector.
The back is made out of silver-grayish aluminum material that's textured with small circles. I like these aesthetic choices because it gives the Excite 7.7 a faux-metallic finish, but the overall look of the tablet comes off as cheap compared with its sticker price of $500. At the top right-hand corner is a LED-flash supported 5-megapixel camera.
A 2-megapixel front-facing camera on the top left corner sits above the 7.7-inch Gorilla Glass display. This location is really awkward, since you have to angle the device differently when taking vanity shots or web chatting. The screen, bordered by a black band subtly decorated with glitter (calm down, dudes, you can only see it in the sunlight, and even then you'd have to squint), supports 10-finger multitouch, so you can type with all fingers on deck. This comes in handy (pun unintended) since the Swype virtual keyboard feature is absent.
The display has a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels, which makes watching videos that fit its 16:10 aspect ratio a real pleasure. The AMOLED display made images, menu icons, and text crisp, and colors were vibrant with rich saturation. I did see some line aliasing and streaky gradient patterns in a few of those default wallpaper images preloaded onto the tablet, but they weren't as noticeable as, say, on the Excite 13.
The Toshiba Excite 7.7 ships natively with the newest version of the Android OS, version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Just like the two other Excite units, a few additions have been made to the settings menu. One is the Enable Balanced Power option, which appears to dim the backlight, regardless of the current brightness setting, in order to save battery life. The other is an Audio Enhancement toggle, which allows access to SRS sound settings like volume boost and clarity enhancements. In addition, Toshiba reported that its Ambient Noise Equalizer adjusts the tablet's volume based on the amount of noise in the area.
Preloaded on the device are a number of Google apps, including Gmail, Plus, Maps with Navigation, Latitude, the Play Store for Books, Music, and Movies, Search, Talk, and YouTube. There are also a few task management features such as a calculator, a calendar, a clock with alarm features, native e-mail, browser, and media player applications, a file manager, an address book, and a sound recorder.
Some extra goodies include Adobe Reader; mobile office suite Quickoffice Lite HD; PrinterShare, the mobile printing solution; LogMeIn, which gives you wireless access to your computers; movie apps like Netflix and Crackle; music apps such as Amazon MP3 and Rdio; reading apps like News Place, Book Place, and Zinio; five games (Solitaire, Spades, Hearts, Euchre, and Backgammon); and a gaming portal app.