Tablets are generally expected to be "thin and light" small computers with unobtrusive interfaces. Some tablets are thinner and lighter than others, however. While we've praised tablets like the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 for their sleekness and dinged the HP TouchPad for being too bulky, the Thrive poses an interesting question. Is a bulky tablet inherently a bad thing or can a tablet justify its extra mass?
While most other tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, show efforts to emulate Apple's thin, light, and minimalist iPad 2 design, Toshiba hurls the Thrive right into the soft, supple face of the notion that tablets should be designed this way. Sure, at 1.66 pounds the Thrive is relatively light compared with, say, a laptop or even a Netbook, but at that weight, it's as heavy as the heaviest tablet we've seen and its 0.63-inch depth makes it nearly twice as thick as either the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the iPad 2.
|Toshiba Thrive||Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1||Apple iPad 2||T-Mobile G-Slate||HP TouchPad|
|Weight in pounds||1.66||1.24||1.34||1.38||1.6|
|Width in inches (landscape)||10.75||10.1||9.5||9.6||9.5|
|Height in inches||7||6.9||7.3||5.8||7.4|
|Depth in inches||0.63||0.34||0.34||0.49||0.45|
|Side bezel width in inches (landscape)||1||0.8||0.8||0.9||0.85|
Toshiba's intent with the Thrive was to make a tablet that more closely met the needs of a typical laptop user, and as you can see from the specs above, the Toshiba Thrive is one of the heaviest, widest, and deepest tablets we've yet seen. As Honeycomb tablets go, it's very much the anti-Galaxy Tab 10.1. While the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is all smooth, sleek, sexy, and devoid of ports, the Thrive is anything but, and its measurements only tell half the story.
Upon picking up the Thrive, the first thing we noticed was its grooved back panel, which provides an easy-to-grip texture. While our model's panel was black, the panel is removable and can be swapped out for a panel in one of five other colors (green, purple, blue, pink, and silver), available for $20 each. Removing the panel requires that you dig your fingernails into the speaker indentations and then carefully, but firmly, pull back. Given the manner in which the panel is connected to the tablet, when pulling it off you may get the impression that you're breaking something, and although we didn't break anything, we can't rule out the possibility and we wish the panel came off more easily.
Once the panel is off, the removable battery can be accessed, removed, and finally swapped with an extra battery Toshiba has priced at $80. The battery measures 5.1x5.5 inches, with about a 0.25-inch depth. Removing the battery is simpler and easier than removing the back panel, although replacing both battery and panel is easy. There's also the option to lock the back panel into place, which seems unnecessary since it's pretty firmly attached once placed properly, and if locked and forgotten could easily cause someone to break it by trying to pull the panel off while it's in a locked state.
When held in landscape mode, the top of the tablet holds, from left to right, the power button, volume rocker, and rotation lock. Both the volume rocker and rotation lock are easily accessed, but the power button is embedded a tad too deeply and requires a more focused press to actually click. It's nowhere near as bad as the BlackBerry PlayBook's, which requires a pen to access properly, though.
On the opposite end of the top edge is the full-size SD card slot, which accepts cards of up to 128GB in capacity. Near the power button, on the bezel, are three LED indicator lights that glow to indicate when the power is on, when the battery's charging, or when wireless or Bluetooth is switched on. While you'd likely get used to the lights after a while, they're not typical of the tablet experience and can be distracting if you're looking for a completely clean interface.
On the bottom right side are the power and headphone jacks. Above them is a 3-inch-long door, concealing the full USB port, full HDMI port, and Mini-USB port. On each of the far sides of the bottom edge sit 1-inch-long speakers. In the middle of the bottom edge is a dock connector port.
The cameras are located on either side on the bezel in the middle of the tablet's left side. We found that when holding the Thrive in landscape mode, our fingers naturally blocked the rear lens. And while it's easy enough to move your finger down and out of the way, it's also less comfortable to hold it like that, especially given the tablet's heavier-than-average weight.
Overall, the device feels solid and durable, and we found it comfortable to hold, if slightly bulky. Also, the edge where the back panel meets the end of the bezel feels a little sharp and was distracting when our fingers rubbed it.