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Toshiba’s 7 inch Android tablet reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 4:40 pm 06/03/2012

Toshiba’s second tablet shrinks its 10 inch brother down to an almost-pocketable 7 inch size. Does it work, or does it just fall short?

Features

Literally a 7 inch remake of Toshiba’s first Android tablet, the AT1S0 includes much of the technology seen on the 10 inch AT100, albeit in a smaller form. We’re not kidding when we say that this thing shares technology with its big brother, as much of what’s inside each is identical.

For instance, both feature the Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM, a rear 5 megapixel camera, front 2 megapixel camera, black plastic textured back, and take advantage of Google’s older version of Android – 3.2 Honeycomb. Our review model featured 16GB of internal storage, once again similar to what was in our review AT100.

The screen size is different, however, with Toshiba taking advantage of a 7 inch LCD in this model instead of the 10 inch one found in the AT100. Interestingly, Toshiba kept with the 1280×800 HD resolution, essentially offering a reasonably high quality panel in a small 7 inch form-factor.

Connectivity options are also different between both models. While the 10 inch AT100 features a full-sized USB 2.0 port, HDMI, mini USB, and combined headphone and microphone jack, the 7 inch AT1S0 includes a microHDMI, miniUSB, and a microSD card slot for expandable memory, all covered by a little compartment door.

The combined headset port is still here too, but it sits at the top of the tablet. Likewise, WiFi and Bluetooth are both included, as is Toshiba’s proprietary docking and charge connector.

There aren’t many buttons to speak of on the AT1S0, but those that do all sit on the left side of the tablet, including the power button, volume switch, and a rotation lock button.

Unlike it’s 10 inch brother, the battery cannot be replaced in this model, meaning that just like every other tablet device out there, you can’t switch over to a fresh battery when you’re running low.

Performance

If you’ve seen Toshiba’s first Android tablet, you’ve seen this one, as Toshiba has kept with the same style from top to bottom.

In that model, Toshiba went with a thick black border around a 10.1 inch touchscreen, with black plastic holding the rest of the tablet together.

Here in the AT1S0, it’s pretty much the same, albeit on a smaller scale. On the front, you’ll find no buttons to speak of, thanks to Honeycomb’s buttons being part of the software.

Much like Toshiba’s 10 inch AT100, the rear textured surface helps to make the AT1S0 that much easier to carry. While the materials in use here aren’t of the same quality we see on the iPad – no aluminium or other metals on offer here – the ridged plastic means your fingers don’t slip and slide down the back of the tablet.

The inclusion of expansion ports is welcome, especially with microSD being useful for expanding the memory later on. Mini USB is useful too, allowing us to access external hard drives supporting this port. It’s certainly not the full-sized USB port we loved on the AT100, but it’s better than nothing.

Toshiba has also thrown in Swype, allowing you to draw paths on the keyboard and write words more quickly than by pressing the individual letters on the keyboard. Haptic feedback is also supported, effectively making you think the on-screen keyboard uses real physical buttons rather than just the flat touchscreen.

Battery life manages to be pretty decent in this tablet, and we hit around one to two days of infrequent use, though if you’re a hardcore user, you will want to charge it up daily.

Certainly, Toshiba’s choice of a proprietary charge connector won’t please everyone, so if you’re travelling somewhere, make sure to carry it with you as – unlike an Apple iPod dock connection – no one will have a spare Toshiba charge cable.

We like much of what Toshiba is offering in this seven incher, but it also has its fair share of problems, and they may be enough to sway you away from buying one.

Most notably, the performance isn’t fantastic. We’re not sure whether it’s that Toshiba really needs to upgrade this thing to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or what, but we found lag in much of what we did.

Whether we switched between apps, browsed the web with multiple tabs, used the pinch-to-zoom gesture, or even tried unlocking the tablet, we were greeted with poor responsiveness. Once you were in an application, the performance tended to be fine, but the lag can rear its ugly head in ways that easily agitates.

There also appears to be some orientation issues, as some apps only run in landscape even when you’re holding the device in portrait. We noticed this most commonly when access Android Market, but saw it from time to time in games and apps, including the camera where only one landscape position worked properly.

The front camera has more problems than just orientation, though, as you always look like you’re watching off-screen thanks to the positioning of the camera. In portrait mode, this may be fine, but in landscape, the angle makes you look a little strange and more like you’re not paying much attention.

There’s also nothing that really says “I’m different” for this tablet. Over in the 10 inch Toshiba tablet, we saw coloured back covers and an exchangeable battery, but here on the 7 inch, there’s none of that. It’s just a small black tablet with nothing really to differentiate it from everything else.

We're holding this in portrait orientation, but the AT1S0 thinks Android's Market should be shown in landscape. Go figure.

Conclusion

While not a fantastic tablet, the AT1S0 manages to be a reasonable compromise between the 10 inch Toshiba model and the 7 inch form factor.

 

 

Price (RRP)

$399

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Textured back makes for an easy grip;

Product Cons

Reasonably thick compared to other tablets; Orientation problems; Performance could be better; No removable battery; Strange front camera placement; Not the latest version of Android;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Design

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