Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Bye-Bye, Thrive Tablets; Hello, Toshiba Excite

Despite efforts to differentiate its offerings from Apple’s iPad with tablets that offered some PC-like features, Toshiba is phasing out its 7- and 10-inch Thrive tablets and replacing them with a new line of lightweight tablet devices.

Toshiba’s new Excite line, which the Japanese electronics maker is officially announcing today, will include 7.7-inch, 10-inch and 13-inch models. All three Wi-Fi-only tablets are running Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system; they are aluminum-encased, have Gorilla Glass displays, come with a five-megapixel rear camera and a two-megapixel front-facing camera, and include new Nvidia TegraTM 3 processors.

The Excite 7.7 also has an AMOLED display, a micro-USB port and a micro-SD card slot; while the Excite 10 has an LED-backlit display, micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, and a full-sized SD card slot. At 1.32 pounds, the new 10-inch weighs just slightly less than Toshiba’s last tablet.

Most interesting might be Toshiba’s 13-inch entrant into the tablet market. The device has a 13.3-inch diagonal LED-backlit display and weighs 2.2 pounds. At first glance, it looks gigantic, but it isn’t really meant to be a take-it-with-you tablet. Toshiba’s aiming this one at tablet users who rarely, if ever, use their devices out of the home; the computer maker has said it envisions the Excite 13 as a kitchen-counter or coffee-table device.

The Excite 10 will hit the market on May 6, priced at $450 for a 16 gigabyte model — still $50 less than the starting price of the new LTE iPad — while the Exite 7.7 and Excite 13 tablets will go on sale June 10. Those base models will cost $500 and $650, respectively.

And at that point, Toshiba’s Thrive tablets will go away.

Toshiba first introduced its Thrive tablet in July of last year, and attempted to set its product apart from the iPad by incorporating some features one might expect on a PC. As AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg pointed out in his review of the Thrive, the 10-inch Android tablet came with a full-sized USB port and HDMI port, a removable battery and a full-sized SD slot for flash-memory cards. Its base model originally cost $430 at launch, though Toshiba later lowered the price.

In September, Toshiba introduced the 7-inch version of the Thrive, again with easy connectivity through other devices, though with micro-versions of the USB, HDMI and SD card ports. That product just came to market in late 2011.

In addition to the new tablets, Toshiba is also introducing a redesigned HD All-in-One desktop computer, two new Qosmio gaming laptops, and a stable of upgraded laptops from the Satellite P and Satellite S series, as well as new, slightly lower-priced Satellite L and Satellite C Series laptops.

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