The 16 GB Wi-Fi-only Toshiba Thrive lacks many of the proprietary bells and whistles found on other Android tablets, but that simplicity is what critics like about the slate: It's very close to a straightforward Android Honeycomb environment, and a forthcoming update will upgrade that to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Other touches, such as the swappable battery, myriad ports -- full-sized HDMI, USB and SD card slots are all onboard -- and the straightforward design add credence to its reputation as a "Geek's machine." The 1,280-by-800-pixel IPS display earns praise for its wide viewing angles. The Thrive is also available in 8 GB and 32 GB models, and you can add a 4G radio for $80 more.
While geeks may appreciate the Toshiba Thrive's design, critics report that mainstream consumers may be turned off by its thick, heavy build, lack of flash and poor battery life. The Android operating system isn't quite as polished as the current Apple iPad's (*Est. $500 and up) iOS 5, and the apps aren't as numerous. If you prefer aesthetics and power to ports and a swappable battery, experts say that the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime (Discontinued) is the best Android tablet available, and the starting configuration has twice the storage space of the 16 GB Toshiba Thrive.
Toshiba falls behind the competition on the support front. The 1 year warranty is standard, but technical support is limited to phone assistance and an online user forum.
PC World, ArsTechnica.com, TabletPCReview.com and The Wall Street Journal's All Things D all review the Toshiba Thrive. Each of the critiques is professional, informative and based on hands-on testing and impressions, but none of them stands out. The reviews from CNET, TheVerge.com and Engadget.com are longer and more in-depth. Users on Amazon.com also weigh in with their opinions.
The Thrive earns a Very Good rating at CNET -- a rating assigned to many of the tablets on CNET's top 5 tablet list. The swappable battery and plethora of full-sized ports help reviewer Eric Franklin overlook the thick size and heavy weight of the tablet.
Review: Toshiba Thrive (16GB), Eric Franklin, July 12, 2011
The full sized ports are the highlight of the Toshiba Thrive, Sean Hollister reports, which he finds largely average in every other way. The build quality in particular is criticized as fat, heavy and cheap-feeling.
Review: Toshiba Thrive Review, Sean Hollister, July 22, 2011
Someone looking for the slimmest and lightest tablet will be disappointed in the Toshiba Thrive, Dana Wollman says, but she reports that the full-sized ports and SD card reader open up a world of storage and connectivity options that the top tablets don't offer. If you don't care about the ports, Wollman says there are better tablet options available.
Review: Toshiba Thrive Review, Dana Wollman, July 22, 2011
4. PC World
Like every other reviewer, Melissa Perenson praises the full-size HDMI, USB and SD card ports of the Toshiba Thrive, but she's also very appreciative of the large number of apps that come preloaded. The tablet may be bulky, but those value-adding features land it in the sixth slot in PC World's list of the top 10 tablets.
Review: Toshiba Thrive Review: A Tablet Edges Closer to the Ideal, Melissa J. Perenson, July 13, 2011
Walt Mossberg says the Toshiba Thrive handles well overall, delivering good -- albeit sometimes crash-prone -- performance on par with other Android tablets. The abundance of apps and ports lead him to liken it to a laptop in tablet clothing, which he thinks could be a differentiator for many would-be buyers.
Review: Tablet Strives to Plug Into Laptops' Port Abilities, Walt Mossberg, July 13, 2011
A lot of drawbacks are listed, but Ben Kuchera says the Toshiba Thrive's file manager and port selection make it a purchase-worthy tablet if you're in search of productivity. The full size ports could make it a good gaming buy, too, he suggests, if you were inclined to plug in a USB controller, load up an SD card with games and output the video to your HDTV with an HDMI cable.
Review: Life Without Adapters: How More Ports Let the Toshiba Thrive Tablet Compete, Ben Kuchera, July 2011
The Toshiba Thrive receives more than 660 user reviews at Amazon.com, and more than 500 of them rate the tablet 4 stars or higher. Many of the low scores are due to a software issue at launch that has since been corrected. Contributors love the apps, screen and responsiveness of the tablet, but the poor audio quality and buggy Android Honeycomb operating system is panned several times. An update is scheduled to add the much improved Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS to the Thrive in the near future.
Review: Toshiba Thrive 10.1-Inch 16 GB Android Tablet AT105-T1016, Contributors to Amazon.com