Toshiba Thrive 7″ Review

The battle for 7 to 9-inch tabs is getting hot and heavy lately as just about every manufacturer has one. When it comes down to it, you really have to weigh price with what each manufacturer is offering as far as differentiation goes. When I mean differentiation, I don’t mean UI enhancements, I mean the quality of the build and the overall hardware. Does the Toshiba Thrive 7″ offer anything other tablets don’t? This is my full review, but you can also check out my initial hands on video as well.

Design

The design of the Thrive 7″ might be the highlight of this tab. Although it’s not the thinnest around (11.9mm), the design of the body is very nice. The backside has an all rubberized feel that makes it very comfortable in your hands. My biggest complaint with all devices I review is shiny plastic that is slippery, but you won’t find any of that with the Thrive. It doesn’t feel as solid as other tabs, but It doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart either. I just wish it wasn’t so thick since most of the competition right now is much thinner. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus comes in at 9.96 mm thick and the Motorola XYBOARD 8.2 (WiFi version) comes in at 8.9mm thick.

Hardware

The Thrive 7″ features a 7-inch 1280 x 800 LED backlit LCD display, 1 GHz dual-core Cortex A9 processor, 1GB of RAM, 5MP rear camera (with 720p video recording), 2MP front camera, 16 or 32 GB of internal storage, microSD for up to an additional 32GB, micro HDMI, micro USB, Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi, and Android 3.2. Hardware-wise, I’m not seeing too much that that is a cut above the competition except for maybe the 2MP front camera. Hardly enough to get excited about.

Battery

The battery life isn’t the greatest. With mild use you can get through a day or two, but with any use like video, the Thrive performed poorly. I ran continuous video and I was only able to get about 5 hours. Most other tablets will get closer to 10 hours and even the DROID RAZR MAXX, a phone, was able to get 10 hours of continuous video while connected to 4G LTE.

Performance

Performance is adequate, but it’s not going to blow away the competition. It has a 1 GHz dual-core processor, which is low based on today’s standards, but should satisfy most people. The AnTuTu benchmark came in at 5138 which puts it just above the Amazon Kindle Fire and just below the LG Optimus 2X. Average specs yields average results.

The 1280 x 800 resolution is one of the highest for tablets in this size range. I must say, it’s really nice, but the Motorola XYBOARD 8.2 (WiFi version) matches it and is priced similarly at $399 with a little larger screen.

Software

About the best thing the Thrive 7′ offers is that it’s stock Android, which happens to be version 3.2 Honeycomb. Ice Cream Sandwich is promised for the Spring, but nothing official yet. A nice touch is the ability to easily lock the screen in either landscape or portrait, which is great when reading an e-book. You simply toggle a switch on the side.

As far as bloatware goes, you will find Backgammon, HW Games Euchre SE, HW Games Hearts SE, HW Games Solitaire SE, HW Games Spades SE, Kaspersky Tablet Security, Netflix, NFS Shift, PrinterShare, Quickoffice HD, Register (for registering with Toshiba), Toshiba Service Station (for managing updates), and User’s Guide.

Camera

I have said it in all my tablet reviews that a camera is nice to have, but that’s about it. It simply doesn’t make much sense except for a front facer for video chat. Toshiba gave us an average at best camera in the Thrive. The shutter speed is slow based on today’s standards and although the photos weren’t all that bad, you might need to take a few shots to get it right. I found this to be more the case when requiring flash. Here are some example shots (the last one was dimly lit and required flash)

Closing

There are many choices for 7-inch to 9-inch tablets, and I don’t think that Toshiba convinced me to recommend the Thrive 7″ over any of the competition based on specs and price. I do like the design and the display is nice, but other than that, it loses in just about every category. If you are in the market for a smaller form factor, I would recommend the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus or the Motorola XYBOARD 8.2 over this one. The Thrive 7″ goes for $369 for the 16GB version, but the 8.2-inch Motorola XYBOARD 8.2 (WiFi) 16GB goes for $399 and the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus (WiFi) 16GB goes for $318.

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