The Toshiba Excite Pure is a forgettable 10-inch tablet that has a hard time challenging its competition. Even with a $300 price tag, the tablet isn't a good value thanks to its dated specs and poor screen resolution. In fact, it would be better to forgo the tablet altogether and either pay more for a higher-end 10-inch tablet, or size down to something smaller to get a better device.
Released in June, the Excite Pure is the lowest-priced in Toshiba's trio of new tablets in its refreshed Excite product line, with the Excite Pro and the Excite Write. While the Pro and the Write have high-end specs and the prices to match, Toshiba is hoping to lure in budget tablet shoppers with the lower-end and less costly $300 10-inch Excite Pure.
Inside, the Excite Pure tablet has a 1.2GHz Tegra 3 processor, 1GB of RAM, a 1,280x800-pixel-resolution LCD glass capacitive touch-screen display and is running pure Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1. Those outdated specs hold the Pure back when competing against both other 10-inch tablets and tablets in a lower price range, since both categories have many devices with better screens and better guts.
Design and external features
The Excite Pure has a champagne-colored polycarbonate back that wraps around the edges of the tablet. The back has a raised texture that feels more slippery than it looks. There's also a shiny Toshiba logo on the back. The edges of the tablet are curved, which makes the tablet easier to hold than the iPad, which has a sharper edge.
The front has a glass capacitive touch screen with a thick bezel. The screen is not always responsive to normal pressure, and I constantly found myself tapping the screen twice or three times to make a selection.
Looking at the tablet in landscape mode, the volume rocker, Micro-USB charging port, headphone jack, microSD slot, and Micro-HDMI port are on the left edge. On the top left of the tablet, there are two microphones on either side of the power/wake/sleep button. For left-handers this is probably great, but righties might find it awkward to use the controls.
Left and right speakers are at the bottom sides of the tablet in landscape mode, right where it feels natural to hold the device with one or both hands. Unless you awkwardly hold the tablet by the top edges, you're bound to cover one or both of the tiny speaker grilles.
A thick plastic cover folds back to reveal the microSD and Micro-HDMI ports on the left side. It sits flush with the tablet when closed. The microSD port gives the tablet up to 64GB in expandable memory, on top of the tablet's internal 16GB of storage space.
At the middle top of the front bezel there's a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. The camera quality is poor, and the images captured with it have a lot of noise. Still, it will get the job done if you need to video chat.
Given the tablet's wide screen and button placement, it's clear that Toshiba intends you use it to watch videos and play games in landscape mode. However, the wide screen also makes reading Web pages in portrait mode quite satisfying, since you can read a lot of text at a time. It's even easier to hold the tablet with one hand in portrait mode, though more about that in a minute.
Size and weight
The Excite Pure is just 0.4 inch thick, which makes it easy to hold in one hand. The tablet measures 10.3 inches wide and 7 inches high.
The tablet weighs 1.39 pounds -- close in weight to the 1.44-pound iPad 4 -- making it heavy enough that it's uncomfortable to hold in one hand for more than a minute. You'll want to either hold the Excite Pure flat against your lap or lay it on a surface to watch movies or play games.
|Toshiba Excite Pure||Toshiba Excite 10||Google Nexus 10||Apple iPad 4|
|Weight in pounds||1.39||1.28||1.33||1.44|
|Width in inches (landscape)||10.3||10.3||10.4||9.5|
|Height in inches||7||7.1||6.9||7.3|
|Depth in inches||0.4||0.35||0.35||0.37|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||0.7||0.8||0.9||0.8|
The Excite Pure is so named because it ships with a "pure" version of Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1, meaning it's nearly the same Android experience that you'd find on a Nexus device with very few modifications from Toshiba. There are no overlays that change the look of Android, like we've seen on previous Toshiba tablets.
Though Toshiba didn't change the look of the operating system, it couldn't help but include a few Toshiba system apps, such as a media player and a file system, and additional volume controls that emphasize music or voice. The Toshiba File Manager is easy to navigate and actually handy if you want to dig into system files, since Android doesn't come with a file manager.
Toshiba also included proprietary news and book apps, an update center, a user guide, and an app store, all of which are just OK. The Excite Pure also comes preloaded with several popular Android apps, including Evernote, Amazon Kindle, and Netflix.
Whatever you do, stay away from the preinstalled Wild Tangent gaming center, listed as Games in the app drawer, which lets you play free games or rent them without ads. It's slow, clunky, and confusing to use -- you're much better off just downloading games, and apps in general, from Google Play.
Performance and speed
The Excite Pure doesn't win any points with its 1.2GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, which is outdated compared with newer and faster processors such as the Nvidia Tegra 4 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 Pro, which are found in the Excite Pro and the 2013 Nexus 7, respectively.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)