Scrolling through menus or home screens on the tablet is snappy. However, once I launched an app, I noticed the tablet slow down. Particularly, when I navigated around the tablet while an app downloaded in the background, I found the tablet would hang after I made a selection, meaning I would tap the back button and the tablet wouldn't respond for around 5 to 10 seconds.
For gaming and video streaming, the Excite Pure has a 12-core Nvidia GPU. The tablet handles HD video playback and simple games quite well, considering its older processor. You'll be able to run Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and other mobile games without any problems.
On the other hand, in my tests running the graphics-heavy game N.O.V.A. 3, it took the Excite Pure an average of 46 seconds to load up one level and the game was almost unplayable. There was significant lag between when I tapped the screen to shoot my gun or move the camera and when the game actually completed the actions.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba claims that the tablet's lithium ion battery gives it 12 hours of run time. In our test, the battery lasted for 6.3 hours while playing video on a continuous loop in airplane mode before it drained completely. The tablet uses a standard Micro-USB charger and includes a wall adapter. You can check out our battery testing procedure here, to get a better sense of how the tablet stacks up.
|Tablet||Video battery life (in hours)|
|Toshiba Excite Pure||6.3|
|Apple iPad 4||13.1|
|Google Nexus 10||8.4|
Display and screen resolution
For a 10.1-inch tablet, the Excite Pure's 1,280x800-pixel-resolution display (with 150 pixels per inch) is disappointing. Icons look grainy, small text is hard to read, and high-resolution photos aren't as sharp as expected.
A 1,280x800 resolution was typical in earlier 10-inch tablets, but we've since moved on to better screens: the Retina Display iPad has a 2,048x1,536-pixel (264 ppi) display and the Nexus 10 packs a 2,560x1,600 (299 ppi) resolution.
In addition to the poor resolution, the Excite Pure doesn't handle color very well. Colors are oversaturated and whites are much too bright. For instance, Google often uses colored text with a white background for pop-up messages in the Play store, and they are almost unreadable on the Excite Pure.
The physical display is more reflective than other tablets I've used. That presents a problem when you're using the table in direct sunlight or where there's indoor light from light fixtures behind you, as it will reflect off the screen and obscure whatever you're viewing, even at full brightness.
Toshiba says the tablet has an 170-degree viewing angle. However, as you start titling the tablet away from you, colors quickly become washed-out and distorted.
At full brightness, you can view the tablet in direct sunlight but the screen will still look dim. On the other end of the spectrum, the tablet gets really dark when you turn the brightness down. That's a plus for anyone who reads in bed at night and doesn't want to disturb the person sleeping nearby with too much light. In my experience, automatic brightness works well and adjusts to changing lighting conditions quickly.
|Tested spec||Toshiba Excite Pure||Google Nexus 10||Apple iPad (third generation)|
|Maximum brightness||284 cd/m2||368 cd/m2||455 cd/m2|
|Maximum black level||0.06 cd/m2||0.44 cd/m2||0.49 cd/m2|
Video and audio
High-definition video on the Excite Pure looks as clear as the mediocre screen will allow. Standard definition looks awful, so you'll want to opt for HD video for services such as YouTube or Netflix.
In the settings menu, Toshiba has an option for high-quality video. I found that with that option turned on, colors appeared more saturated, but there was no discernible difference in picture clarity. If you want to test it out for yourself, turn on demo mode in the video enhancement menu, which shows the screen half in high quality and half not when you play video. The demo mode is barely noticeable when you turn it on, and I had a hard time telling the two sides of the screens apart.
Audio from the tablet's external left and right speakers is clear and impressive. You do have to be mindful of how you hold the tablet, because if you hold your hands over the speakers (which is easy to do because of where they're located), the audio becomes muffled.
At the highest volume level, music and sounds are loud enough to be heard over moderate background noise without becoming distorted. At the other end of the spectrum, sound can get so faint at the lowest levels that you'll need to be in a quiet room or hold your ear directly to one of the speakers to hear it.
When you tap the volume rocker on the side of the tablet, you'll see two scales. One is for the tablet's media volume (for audio playback and games) and the other was added by Toshiba to balance the audio to either emphasize music (shown as a music note) or voice (microphone). I played around with the setting while playing a music video and CNET news video and found that both voice and music sounded flat, no matter what I did to the scale. You can turn it off from the settings menu by going to Audio enhancement and unchecking the box next to Toshiba Audio Source Filtering.
Toshiba also includes DTS surround sound, volume boost, clarity, automatic volume, and ambient noise equalizer settings, all designed to boost sound quality and reduce background noise. In my testing, turning on all of the settings helped make audio richer and more realistic.
The Toshiba Excite Pure suffers from a weak screen and lackluster performance. The tablet is decent family device, since it's durable enough to handle being passed around and can play video and games well. The plastic back means that it's nowhere near as fragile as an iPad.
If you can sacrifice a few inches of screen space, both the Nook HD and the Kindle Fire HD have much nicer screens and better experiences for kids and families than the Toshiba Excite Pure can offer. Both of those devices have more storage space and are cheaper than the Excite Pure, at $150 and $270, respectively.
At $300, the Toshiba Excite Pure is one of the cheapest 10-inch tablets on the market. Unfortunately, it's not a good value even at that price. You're better off paying one hundred dollars more for a Nexus 10, or sizing down to a Kindle Fire HD or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 in order to get a more impressive family-friendly tablet.