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back to article Toshiba AT300 10in Android tablet review

To date Toshiba’s Android tablets have barely made a ripple let alone a splash in the fondleslab market but the new AT300 may change that. A replacement for the AT200 – that I failed to get excited about earlier in the year – the new device is cheaper and, thanks to its Tegra 3 underpinnings, considerably more powerful. Toshiba …

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Not a bad review, except this bit...

"Most of my videos are encoded at 720p and I doubt I’m alone in that. So while I like the idea of 1080p tablet displays, I'll be damned if I'm paying extra for the privilege."

So the only thing you're using a tablet for is playing video? That's a bit like giving the iphone 5 a really high mark because it can show more phone numbers on screen than the old one. There's a massive amount of really cool stuff you can use a tablet for, and most of it benefits hugely from a nice high-res screen.

The whole point of a high DPI screen is that it's so much better for everything else - particularly anything involving text, like web browsing, ebooks and so on! The benefit for video is actually quite minimal I'd say.

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Well done, Toshiba!

Now that's more like it.

A reasonable 10" tablet by a well-known maker at less than three hundred notes. And an SD card expansion slot too.

I don't happen to have £300 spare at the moment, but if I did, I'd be looking at this with considerable interest.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well done, Toshiba!

It has a fairly low screen resolution. It's the same resolution as some 4.8" phone screens.

So it really is an oversized smartphone without the phone part.

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Facepalm

Re: Well done, Toshiba!

I had £300 last month and bought a Google TV. Doh.

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Unhappy

Dammit

USB slot & non-proprietary connectors/chargers, HDMI port and vanilla Android with no 'helpful' tweaking from the manufacturer at £300? Wish this had been out a few months back, I would probably have snagged this over the Galaxy Tab.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dammit

I'm guessing you've never owned a Toshiba? their support is atrocious. Anyone who ever owned one of their PDAs would be testimony to that.

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Re: Dammit

No no ... you forgot "in my opinion". I've owned a Tosh TV, 4 PCs and have had nothing but amazing service from them. And no, I don't work for them.

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Re: Dammit

More tellingly, I've owned a stack of Toshiba kit on and off for 15 years, and I've *never needed* support from them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dammit

But if you don't mention support you can't start comparison to any Apple product!!!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dammit

"non-ACPI-compliant BIOS" on some x86 lappy kit. I mean specifically U500 and L500.

Sort it out Tosh, your laptops are legendary for frying themselves in Linux hardware compatibility lists!

Cooling fans not spinning when they should be, just playing dead. Works OK in Windows, of course, probably been bodged to work somewhere in software.

Hint - your competitors Dell, Acer and HP have not got much problems with this as far as I know.

How hard can it be to fix a few lines code and release new BIOS code? Doesn''t need to be ALL previous kit, just do the U500 and L500 and anything similar from Core 2 onwards, most folks will be happy!

Making your kit more modder-friendly might help you survive as a company.... dropping the registered logins for downloading drivers was a good start :P

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1473317&page=2

http://www.linlap.com/wiki/toshiba+satellite+u500

Plus, while I''m being mean, why the f**k did they source ANY non VT-x Core 2 processors when there were only minor random version revisions between CPUs that had it and those that didn''t, and the cost difference was minor or zero, bearing in mind that Intel probably just disabled those functions .... OK, I''m sure some other makers got bitten by that too.

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Holmes

I don't want to say it's great support, but...

My own experience with Toshiba's support for my AT 200 has been pretty good, though I consider it a negative that I've had reason to contact support.

For whatever it's worth, the upgrade to Android 4 seems to have improved the situation in most regards. In particular, the tablet seems more stable with 4 than it was with 3. However it is the greatly improved dictation that I most like in Android 4.

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Holmes

Other non-support experiences

Actually, I should have noted that my latest notebook is a Toshiba, and it has been quite satisfactory and I've had no need to seek support for it. I'm thinking about buying another as out-of-production merchandise in my bid to skip over Windows 8, which looks to be another loser like Windows Vista (and which I also skipped).

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Meh

Nice, but no banana

This looks like a nice tablet, but Toshiba are missing a few tricks.

I'd really like to see a full-size USB2 (or USB3) host port so that the thing could read standard thumb-drives and use peripherals like 3g dongles. I'd also like to see SDXC card support so that the new 64GB and 128GB cards could be used. None of this is rocket science, none of this would push manufacturing or component costs up, and the resulting device would be much more competitive.

It's barmy to design a new device and NOT give it the spec that will make it competitive.

I wish it had the same (or better) screen resolution as the "retina" iPads, too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice, but no banana

I think that the two additions you want WOULD push the price up. Even in current spec, it does appear to be competitive...

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Re: Nice, but no banana

A micro-usb to USB adaptor costs a couple of quid from Amazon. Hardly a deal-breaker.

And adding a USB connector would DEFINITELY push up the manufacturing cost.

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Re: Nice, but no banana

Toshiba's AT100 Android tablet featured full size SD, USB and HDMI which was great except for the tablet being so hideously thick as a result that it killed the entire design. I think it's a reasonable compromise to stick a micro USB / HDMI in such devices and expect people to buy a cable or adapter.

I doubt USB3 would be much use though. What exactly would you need all that throughput for? USB2 is perfectly adequate for streaming movies and the tablet has so much internal memory so it's not like it would take a long time to copy stuff in the other direction.

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Re: Nice, but no banana

Seconded. A USB OTG cable is preferable to having an integrated female USB A port because having a rigid stick protruding from a handheld gadget is a good way of physically breaking something. Even on a conventional laptop, USB thumb-sticks can look a little vulnerable.

However, to excuse Dajames, USB OTG isn't a feature that is not often reported upon, and the cable is rarely included with devices or available on the highstreet (not even Maplins at their prices... £8.99 for a USB A > B cable? WTF?)

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Re: Nice, but no banana

@Martin

A micro-usb to USB adaptor costs a couple of quid from Amazon. Hardly a deal-breaker.

True, but the less you have hanging of the bottom of a tablet the less likely it is to fall off and/or get damaged. Note that the micro-USB the device already has seems to be a slave port, not a host port, so you couldn't connect a peripheral to it.

And adding a USB connector would DEFINITELY push up the manufacturing cost.

A little ... the main cost would probably be the extra logic needed to support host USB, the connectors cost pennies.

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Re: Nice, but no banana

@DrXym

Toshiba's AT100 Android tablet featured full size SD, USB and HDMI which was great except for the tablet being so hideously thick as a result that it killed the entire design. I think it's a reasonable compromise to stick a micro USB / HDMI in such devices and expect people to buy a cable or adapter.

It doesn't have to be so ... not all devices that have USB ports are hideously thick. A friend has a cheap Android tablet that does have a USB2 host port (which he uses to connect an xD-Picture Card reader) and that's not thick at all.

A cable or adaptor is a reasonable solution for HDMI because that's likely to be used to connect to a fixed TV screen. A host USB port is likely to be used for things that aren't physically connected to fixed kit (e.g. thumb drives and 3g modems) which can be used while the device is moved around. For that sort of usage you want to keep the number of connections between the device and the peripheral as low as possible -- 1 is pretty-much the maximum that makes any sense.

I doubt USB3 would be much use though.

I agree. I only mentioned that as USB3 seems to be cropping up everywhere these days, and the connector is the same shape/size as a USB2 one.

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Holmes

MicroUSB port and peripherals

Can't swear for the AT 300, since I have the AT 200, but I definitely had no trouble with an external keyboard, and I think I tested a mouse, too. Sorry, but I can't remember for sure if I was running them at the same time through a USB hub... Since I was upgraded to Android 4, the dictation is good enough to eliminate my occasional need for an external keyboard.

The basic MicroUSB to USB adapter is available for about a buck around here. However, for some purposes (which I also can't recall just now) I also needed a special MicroUSB to female USB adapter, and I think that one set me back about $7, and I had to check at several stores.

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Re: Nice, but no banana

>...but the less you have hanging of the bottom of a tablet the less likely it is to fall off and/or get damaged

I would rather have something flexible (a short cable) hanging off the bottom of my tablet than something rigid. The rigid item is more likely to get damaged, or damage its port. Compare a 3" length of string to a toothpick...

>Note that the micro-USB the device already has seems to be a slave port, not a host port, so you couldn't connect a peripheral to it.

Yes you can, it is the same port. If your table detects that pin 4 is shorted to pin 5 (ground) in your microUSB plug, your tablet will switch to host mode. This site explains it better than me, it has pictures:

http://tech2.in.com/how-to/accessories/how-to-make-your-own-usb-otg-cable-for-an-android-smartphone/319982

"Some high-end Android phones and most of today’s Android tablets support USB OTG (On-The-Go)"

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Anonymous Coward

Is that genuine 800 res?

...or yet another of the manufacturers that is running a 1280x800 native at 1280x752 ?

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Re: Is that genuine 800 res?

I don't see why not. That would give it a 16:10 aspect ratio. Android reserves space at the bottom for it's navigation bar so apps wouldn't get to use all 800 pixels but there would be enough left over to play 720p content without scaling.

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Headmaster

er,

"When it comes to brightness, viewing angles and richness of colour, the LCD screen gives a bit away to the latest IPS panels. To be fair, the display not what you could call poor and doesn’t compare at all badly with my Google Nexus 7."

Is it me or does this not make any sense?

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Re: er,

The LCD screen is slightly inferior to the latest IPS panels in terms of brightness, viewing angles and richness of colour. However, the display is certainly not what you could call poor, and it compares favourably with the Nexus 7.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: er,

"Doesn't compare badly with xyz" implies its worse than xyz, but not by much. "Compares favourably with xyz" implies it's better than xyz. You've changed the meaning with that rewrite.

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Any theories...

on why 3G versions of tablets cost around an extra £80-100? I'm looking for a good value, but very usuable, 10" tablet with 3G. It doesn't have to have shed loads of memory, or the best 3D graphics. It is intended for an old boy who doubts the dexterity of his fingers and acuity of his eyesight, but is turned on to the uses of (fiddly) smartphones. Maps, travel times, emailing family, cricket scores, BBC website etc. Any ideas?

Is 600 grams (1.3 lbs in old money) too heavy to hold in one hand for too long? Does extra resolution make any difference with poorer eyesight, or does the clearer text help?

I would like to hear from any more senior Reg readers or their technology consultants family members about their experiences with tablets.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Any theories...

I would seriously consider the new Galaxy Note 10.1, since the integrated pen would be useful an old boy who is used to writing on a pad, I am sure a good deal would be had if taken out with a 3G contract..

But I would seriously suggest considering a wifi/bluetooth enabled tablet and use tethering with a mobile rather than getting a 3g tablet, since most people always have a phone, and the phone itself just needs to be 3G/4G and allow tethering (like most do now in the UK at least).. It doesn't need to be an expensive phone either, the ones thrown for free on low monthly contracts do the job!

Personally I mostly tether my laptop/tablet to my phone using bluetooth as its slightly lower power consumption than wifi, and I can leave bluetooth tethering on without draining my phone battery any more than normal...

If your just getting a tablet, the reason for price difference is the chips & aerial for GSM (2G & 3G), a smart-phone with tablet specs like my SGS3 (which is faster than most tables I've seen) is around £500 if not on a contract...

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Re: Any theories...

Theory 1 - because they can. Same reason an extra 16GB of flash costs £70 on a phone and £80 on a tablet from Apple. Just because they can, they do. It's why Apple don't do SD slots with all that profit to be had.

As for your conundrum, I'd buy a wi-fi hotspot. They can be used on multiple devices and then when LTE is present in the UK you can update the hotspot rather than the whole tablet. They also host multiple machines. Here in Oz I have the following one from Telstra and get 20Mbps indoors...

http://www.telstra.com.au/internet/mobile-broadband-prepaid/get-started/?red=/bigpond-internet/mobile-broadband/pre-paid-mobile-broadband/get-started/index.htm#4g-wifi

The data is 'king extortionate (that's Telstra) but I cant fault the service yet - I haven't tried roaming around the country with it yet.

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Re: Any theories...

Thanks for your input, guys!

The 3G>WiFi hotspot device seems the best solution -and has advantage that it would allow his conventional laptop to work, should his home broadband play silly buggers.

Using a phone to put out a WiFi network - not an unreasonable idea, but a bit fiddly and requires a fancyish phone to begin with (a clam shell phone works well for him, ergonomically). I have tried the WiFi Hotspot on my phone, and it doesn't always work (tested with laptop, sometimes okay. Tested with Galaxy Tab, doesn't connect... I can't rule out user error though!).

Hopefully, a purpose-made 3G>WiFi hotspot device will be more reliable than trying to get a phone to do the same thing.

--- The pen suggestion is an interesting one, and may suit some. The fella I'm thinking about is a retired teacher, so is used to using computers, but has probably left PC maintenance in the past to the IT department. Configuring WiFi or Bluetooth is rapidly approaching the 'too much faffing around' limit compared to an integrated device.

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Re: Any theories...

For the 3G tablet, they're adding an HSPA modem chip... about $15 in volume, plus a few additional components. The pretty standard thing is to add $100 for every new feature (like another 16GB of Flash memory, which costs about $5.00 in volume), etc. Then, when the UK pricing is done, they sometimes jump straight from USD to GPB, or maybe actually drop it a little for a more fair conversion.

Either way, it's priced at what they market's shown they'll pay, not necessarily related to what it actually costs. You might do a little better on a Toshiba or Asus or other non-Apple tablet. I paid $100 additional for an extra 32GB on my new Transformer Infinity.. and another $50 to buy a 64GB microSDHC card for it. Imagine that, smart and stupid in the same purchase... as are we all, sometimes.

Holding the tab is like holding a book. Yeah, it's more than a paperback, but [snigger] less than an iPad. My recently demised Notion Ink Adam tablet was 1.6lbs, but didn't seem quite so heavy, and had a fairly handy cylindrical bump at the top (they used off-the-shelf cylindrical batteries, none of these custom molded prisims) which kind of helped in book mode. The Asus is much lighter, but being less than half the thickness, it seems heavy because its denser... just can't win. Not sure I'd want to hold it out at arm's length all day long, but it's fine for reading, supportable in the same way one might handle a full size hardcover... and way lighter than anything by Steven King, that's for sure.

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Archos G9 10.1?

Archos use a 3G dongle modem that fits flush in the case and can be purchased for about an extra £50. The tablet it's self can be found for about £200.

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Anonymous Coward

It's no iPad though and not far off the cost.

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It's no iPad? Probably it's best selling point.

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Anonymous Coward

Ice Cream Sandwich in entirely vanilla form.

Then goes on to mention pre-installed software. Can it be uninstalled?

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Re: Ice Cream Sandwich in entirely vanilla form.

You, erm, know that Operating Systems and application software are different things? This being an IT website and you presumably having some knowledge of IT given that you're posting here?

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Headmaster

Re: Ice Cream Sandwich in entirely vanilla form.

You, erm, know that Distributions and Operating Systems aren't are different things? This being... etc etc

The distinctions can appear blurred to the casual user if the software bundled on the device at launch cannot be removed and integrates itself with other applications. It is usually stuff bolted on to Android by manufactures that people consider make a 'non-vanilla" Android distribution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ice Cream Sandwich in entirely vanilla form.

Yeah Ice Cream Sandwich. Already a version behind. Jellybean has been promised though just like all Android shops that promise the latest version then work out whether it's worth the time and effort to get it to release. 7/10 it's not. God bless Android fragmentation

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Trollface

Lawyers must be cacking themselves though..

look at those rounded corners. I thought it was an iPad at first...

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Like a real computer. No chance

Memory expansion, a choice of true web browsers, a choice of apps that are not invitation only.

It wont catch on.

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Holmes

Choice of browsers

I can slightly address that. The default Web browser seems the best, but sometimes I use Firefox on it, and it seems okay.

The range of apps seems quite acceptable, even overwhelming. Not sure what you meant by "invitation only".

Catch on? I'm not sure. As far as I know there are no killer apps that are Android-only, and even if one appeared, I'm sure Apple would clone it soon enough. The iPad has an enormous advantage, but that might lull Apple into complacency. I'm not sure if Android tablets will ever "catch on" in a big way, but I think the Android phones are likely to increase their market leadership, and that may start reflecting into people's tablet choices... I think the bigger question in this particular case may be "How deep are Toshiba's pockets?"

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Re: Choice of browsers @Shannon

Do you want to borrow my sarcasm detecting hat?

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Re: Choice of browsers @Shannon

> there are no killer apps that are Android-only

Like DTP in a previous decade, iOS has a certain niche of software that Android can only now begin to enter with 4.1 Jelly Bean- those that require low audio latency. This is why there are a fair few audio applications that are only available on iOS at present, though previously iOS-only developers have expressed an interest in Jelly Bean and beyond

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1777261 http://createdigitalmusic.com/2012/07/android-high-performance-audio-in-4-1-and-what-it-means-plus-libpd-goodness-today/

Oh, and it seems that Microsoft hasn't learnt this lesson with Win8 RT:

http://createdigitalmusic.com/2012/06/music-developer-on-windows-8-a-leap-forward-for-desktops-a-leap-backward-for-metro-winrt/

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Angel

or for the same money

get teh Archos 101 XS with a Keyboard, BT4 and GPS. Hum decisions decisions....

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