The crowded tablet market is about to receive another entry, this time from Toshiba. The company's Thrive tablet, long expected but largely a mystery device, will debut July 10 with a tiered-pricing structure, starting at $429.
The 10.1-inch (1280 x 800) tablet runs Android 3.1 and features a front-facing 2.1-megapixel camera and 5-megapixel rear-facing camera for photos and video conferencing. The Thrive will be offered with three storage size options, 8GB ($429), 16GB ($479) and 32GB ($579) models.
Toshiba's entry also offers a slew of connectivity ports, including a built-in HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) out port, USB, mini USB and an SD card slot, resulting in a slightly thicker frame (0.6 pounds) than some of its competitors. The company said battery life should clock in between six and seven hours, allowing for continuous full HD playback. The device is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor and sports a back cover that can be swapped out for one of a different color.
The competitive tablet market, still dominated by Apple and its iPad and iPad 2 models, helped worldwide PC shipments increase 7 percent during the first quarter, according to research firm Canalys, which includes tablets in its counts of PC sales. Apple accounted for 74 percent of the tablet market during the quarter, the report added, despite iPad shipments being down 31 percent sequentially.
Global tablet revenue is now expected to reach $49 billion by 2015, according to an April 19 report from Strategy Analytics. Markets in North America, the Asia-Pacific and Western Europe are expected to lead the massive growth in tablet revenue, according to the company. Up from zero in 2009, 2015 global revenue from the Apple iPad and its legion of followers, said the research firm, would "exceed those of every consumer electronics category except TVs and PCs by 2015."
A recent Canalys consumer survey additionally shed light on the life of tablets beyond the sales counter, finding that, more than as a media player or e-reader, they're being used in ways that resemble PCs. While tablet owners reported using them primarily for Web browsing, emailing and messaging, and social networking, non-tablet owners suspected the devices were more heavily used as e-readers and to watch videos.
An April survey of small and midsize businesses found that owners are accelerating the shift away from desktops and laptops and moving toward the latest technology and gadgets such as smartphones and tablets. The report also showed how SMB owners are significantly increasing their use of and reliance on technology, especially the Internet, as a critical business tool.
Thirty-seven percent of SMB owners responded that they have used a smartphone or a PDA in the past year, an increase of 10 percent over 2010, according to the survey. When asked about iPads and applications, 9 percent responded that they have used an iPad, and 31 percent responded that they used applications for business. SMB owners have decreased their use of desktops, notebooks/netbooks and laptops from last year.