Despite its $500 price and the inclusion of a Tegra 4 CPU, the Toshiba Excite Pro isn't the performance monster one might expect. Gaming performance only matches that of the $229 Nexus 7, and the Pro gets thoroughly eclipsed by the $300 Nvidia Shield. The screen is as sharp as they come, but is saddled with washed-out color and a dim brightness. And while it includes 32GB of storage, there is unfortunately no lower-priced 16GB version.
If that were its only infractions, all could possibly be forgiven, but unfortunately there's more. The tablet gets uncomfortably hot after only a few minutes playing games or streaming video, and is sporadically riddled with sputtery performance, an unresponsive screen, and periodic unsolicited shutdowns. At this time I'd like to remind you of its $500 price.
Toshiba does its best to deliver a satisfying bang for your buck by including expandable storage, Micro-HDMI ports, dual cameras, and Harman Kardon speakers. Not to mention a few hit-and-miss software feature gambits.
As Android tablets go, the Nexus 10 is still your best choice thanks to a lower price option ($399 for 16GB; $499 for 32GB) and better stability. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 and Nook HD+ are both value-laden deals at $299 and $179 for the 32GB versions. It's difficult enough to justify spending $500 on a tablet, and with options such as these, you don't have to.
The Toshiba Excite Pro follows the company's tablet house design for 2013 (already glimpsed on the Excite Pure): a black-bezeled tablet with a textured plastic gray backside. Corners are comfortably rounded, but the back texture actually does little to keep it from slipping out of your hands.
When held in landscape, you'll find the power/sleep button on the top edge somewhat toward the left. The button is actually positioned a bit closer to the middle of the tablet's body than I'm used to, and as a result it was easy to miss it when attempting a no-look press. Thankfully, it protrudes just enough that most will find it with a simple finger slide across the top.
|Toshiba Excite Pro||Google Nexus 10||Apple iPad (fourth gen)||Sony Xperia Tablet Z|
|Weight in pounds||1.39||1.33||1.44||1.06|
|Width in inches (landscape)||10.3||10.4||9.5||10.5|
|Height in inches||7||6.9||7.3||6.8|
|Depth in inches||0.4||0.35||0.37||0.27|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||n/a||0.9||0.8||1|
The Pro's bezels are wide and easily accommodate my rather large thumbs. There's a 1.2-megapixel in the top middle. On the left edge from the top are a headphone jack, volume rocker, microSD card slot, Micro-HDMI port, and a Micro-USB port. The latter three are tucked safely away behind a 2-inch-long door.
An 8-megapixel camera with an LED flash sits on the back in the top-right corner with dual Harman Kardon speakers on the far ends of the left and right side.
At 1.39 pounds, the tablet is about the same weight as most 10-inchers, but is noticeably thicker than the Nexus 10 or iPad 4. And while it doesn't come off as a strictly durable tablet, the plastic back gives it this "rough 'n tumble" feel, where you'd expect it to be able to take a drop or two. Otherwise, it's an altogether unremarkable design.
The Excite Pro ships with Android 4.2.1 and includes a few exclusive Toshiba customizations.
Chief among them is Toshiba's custom camera app, Tru Capture. It's essentially an app geared toward business users and used to take improved pictures of items with white backgrounds like whiteboards, magazines, or notebooks.
Say you're in a meeting where the person running it is using a whiteboard to illustrate important items. Instead of actually paying attention, you simply wait until the end of the meeting when all the information is on the board and you snap a quick pic you can look at later. Unfortunately, you also capture a giant glare spot from one of the lights in the room and now part of the information in your pic is illegible.
Toshiba attempts to address this with an antiglare option that requires you to take two pics: one head-on pic with the glare and another from an angled position, preferably without the glare. The app then attempts to combine the two pics into one head-on pic with no glare. It works fairly well and is kind of an interesting way to go about solving the issue, but I'm still having a difficult time deciding how useful this would be in an actual real-world situation. More useful is a feature that enhances the white in pics you've taken of magazines or printouts in order to make text more legible; however, there's still that inkling feeling of "Who's going to use this again?" I mean I'm sure some people will, but it doesn't feel like something worth sinking any significant amount of development time into.
Lastly, there's an autocropping feature that attempts to predict how you'd want your picture to be cropped and then zooms in the relevant info. Unfortunately, it's pretty bad at predicting, and you end up having to adjust the cropping area manually, anyway.
Honestly, the whole app feels cobbled together, and unless you have very specific needs, is pretty useless.
The 10.1-inch Excite Pro houses a 1.8GHz Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core processor with a 72-core GPU. It has 2GB of RAM and includes support for 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a GPS. A gyroscope, accelerometer, and a digital compass are included as well.