Toshiba Thrive Is Too Rubbery

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-07-22 Print this article Print

Typing on the virtual keyboard was a breeze, and I used Gmail quite a bit on the Thrive to compose messages or respond to Google+ comments. You'll get used to the clacking keyboard sound, I promise. Swype gesture technology is available for folks who prefer it.

The Thrive has a standard 5-megapixel rear-facing camera for average pics, though the 2MP front-facing Webcam will give users a nice face-to-face video chat session, as my testing with Skype Mobile showed.

My biggest issue with the Thrive is the hardware. I strongly dislike the ruggedized, rubberized and texturized Easy Grip removeable cover. I don't care that you can swap out the battery with this feature; it feels like a military-grade machine.

In fact, I moved recently and I showed the AT&T U-Verse installer the Thrive and joked that it would go great with his work Panasonic Toughbook. He agreed. You can drop it, kick it or sit on, it and you won't hurt it. (However, I wouldn't do it to this test model; I break it and I buy it.)

Seriously, I'm okay with the idea of a removable cover, but this plastic shell feels awkward on or off. Moreover, the cheap metal camera bezel on the cover is an eyesore. I wish it were rubber, too.

Speaking of rubbers, you can buy Blue Moon, Raspberry Fusion, Lavender Bliss, Silvery Sky and Green Apple covers for $19.99 if you don't like the black one with which it comes.

Here's a smaller, more niggling point. While I appreciate all the various ports and the way they're rendered in the Thrive's hardware, I believe you should never clutter the power button. It must be pronounced and easy to access.

No dice here; the Thrive's power button is grouped with the volume buttons and a screen rotation lock in a rubber bezel on the right side of the device (when in portrait mode). Try manipulating these in the dark or without looking. They're not pronounced enough in my opinion.

Battery life averaged five to six hours of solid use each day I tested it-not as good as the Tab 10.1 or the iPad at all-even though Toshiba professes 11 hours on a full charge. Really? With Thrive, you need to make sure that the tablet switches off WiFi when you're not using it or you will drain power fast.

In conclusion, I found the actual software experience of the tablet enjoyable, but I'm not comfortable with the Easy Grip removable back cover.

I appreciate what Toshiba was going for, but I don't want a tablet with removable parts. I don't take the cover off my laptop; why would I remove my tablet's cover? For fashion's sake? Pshaw.

At 1.6 pounds, it's also too heavy for my tablet experience. I couldn't use the Thrive as my primary device for media consumption, but that's me.

There are plenty of people who like the look and feel of it. And it's hard to beat the user interface and user experience of the Android 3.1 software, assuming you're one of the Android aficionados who doesn't hate the Honeycomb experience.

The 16GB Thrive I tested costs $479, but if you're feeling less storage hungry, go for the 8GB model for $429.99. More greedy customers can buy a 32GB monster for $579.99.



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