Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
4/10/2012
01:00 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Toshiba Overreaches With 13-Inch Tablet

Toshiba announced a trio of Android 4.0 tablets today, including one with a whopping 13.3-inch display. That's a lot of girth for a tablet.

Toshiba added to the crowded tablet market today with not one, but three new Android tablets. Taking a page from Samsung's tablet playbook (pun intended), Toshiba wants to cover all its bases and is offering tablets with 7.7-, 10.1-, and 13.3-inch displays. Who could possibly put a 13.3-inch tablet to use? Well, let's take a look.

The three tablets share many of their base specifications. Each of the new Excite-branded tablets runs a stock version of Android 4.0 powered by a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor under the hood, with 1GB of RAM. Other shared specs include a 5-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel user-facing camera for video chatting. Each also includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and stereo speakers.

[ Samsung delays its second-generation tablets to optimize Ice Cream Sandwich. Read more at Android 4.0 Forces Samsung To Delay Galaxy Tablets. ]

The 13.3-inch and 10.1-inch models both sport SD card slots for storage expansion, though the 7.7-inch model uses microSD instead. All three include microUSB ports for charging and data transfer, but the 13.3 and 10.1 also include microHDMI for sharing content with other HDMI-equipped products.

The respective displays are all protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass, though they use different illumination technologies. The 13.3-inch model, called the Excite 13, uses an AutoBrite backlit LED with 1600 x 900 pixels. It supports 10-finger touch input, trusting that developers will put the technology to good use within their applications. The Excite 10 also uses the AutoBrite backlit LED but steps the resolution down to 1280 x 800 pixels. Last, the Excite 7.7 has an AMOLED display. Toshiba didn't reveal the resolution of the 7.7-inch display but said that it is compatible with HD content.

So, why 13.3 inches? Toshiba attempts to explain: "One size does not fit all, so we are carefully considering how and where people are using tablets and designing form factors to best suit various needs." In other words, the company wants to offer a range of devices, though it doesn't specifically say why it chose to shoot for the moon with such a large tablet.

I have neither seen nor held the new Toshiba Excite 13, but I remember using 12-inch tablets made by Motion Computing ten years ago. They were heavy as hell. I also remember liking the 12-inch tablets better than the 10-inch tablets from a workspace perspective, but the added footprint and girth made it much more taxing to carry around. Toshiba's new machines are much thinner and lighter than those Motion-made behemoths, but we're still talking about a device with a large size. The display alone measures 12 inches by 6.5 inches, not including the surrounding bezel.

The Excite 13 measures 0.4 inches thick and weighs 2.2 pounds. Toshiba says it will offer up to 13 hours of battery life. It will be available June 10 for $650 and $750, respectively, for 32GB and 64GB versions. The tablet offers more than 75 square inches of viewing area.

The Excite 10 measures 0.35 inches thick and weighs 1.32 pounds. It will be available starting May 6 for $450, $530, and $650, respectively, for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions. It offers more than 43 square inches of viewing area.

Finally, the Excite 7.7 measures 0.3 inches and weighs in at a mere 13.4 ounces. It will go on sale starting June 10 for $500 and $580, respectively, for 16GB and 32GB versions. It offers more than 25 square inches of viewing area.

After owning, carrying, and using tablets every day for the last two years, I can say with confidence that I wouldn't carry around a 13-inch tablet. The increase in screen area comes at a cost of transportability.

Even so, I'm sure Toshiba will sell a boatload of them.

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mhill616
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mhill616,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2012 | 9:02:56 PM
re: Toshiba Overreaches With 13-Inch Tablet
So none of these Toshiba tablets have 4G or even 3G and their screens have only 30% and 60% the number of pixels respectively of the new iPad?

And yet even the cheapest 10" is $50 more expensive than Apple's $399 iPad 2?

And the 7.7" with a screen half the physical size is actually over $100 more expensive than the iPad 2?

Seriously?
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
4/10/2012 | 11:56:35 PM
re: Toshiba Overreaches With 13-Inch Tablet
A boatload, as in a lifeboat.

I don't see the use of a tablet, which, despite its large size, has little advantage over other tablets in resolution, and which is well behind the new iPad.
ssamuelson061
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ssamuelson061,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2012 | 6:09:29 PM
re: Toshiba Overreaches With 13-Inch Tablet
To be frank, some of us consumers want bigger tablets - not smaller. We're not all the same with the same needs and desires as you, Eric. When I heard companies were making tablets with screens smaller than 10" I had the same thought - "Who would want one of those?" - But people have their varied tastes.

In the near future, what I would like to see as my home computer is basically a tablet the size of a monitor (maybe 15" or so) that I can move around my house and use where needed with no keyboard or mouse. Slap a handle on it so I can carry it anywhere. That would be ideal for me whether you like it or not.

I was hoping your review would be why 13" was a technical reach and not just your opinion of why it would not appeal to people. I think that's more the kind of review we're interested in as a group.
tigger2
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tigger2,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2012 | 8:30:20 PM
re: Toshiba Overreaches With 13-Inch Tablet
Well, doing the math it turns out that a 13.3" screen is just short of an 8 1/5x11" sheet of paper. I think I would really like to see a screen that shows a page. 2lbs. is a little much to shlep around, though.
herman_munster
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herman_munster,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/11/2012 | 9:53:55 PM
re: Toshiba Overreaches With 13-Inch Tablet
Wow, a 13" screen! That's got to be a trick to hold! I'd like to use it but, I'm just not sure what else I would do with it...
MSURESH441
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MSURESH441,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/12/2012 | 12:59:52 PM
re: Toshiba Overreaches With 13-Inch Tablet
Oh, my god-- a tablet as large as a clipboard, and as heavy as one of those portfolio-sized day-planners. How could anyone possibly carry something so enormous around?

Someone who lives on Planet Earth might (as Tigger2 notes) WANT a device that can display almost a full sheet of paper. Weight of a kilo is an issue, but I'd assume they can bring that down over time.
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