Toshiba Excite 10 LE Takes Thinnest Tablet Title

Toshiba is following up its Thrive Android Honeycomb tablet with the 10 LE, a premium slate that is only 7.7mm thin and weighs 1.18 pounds.

Toshiba Feb. 29 introduced the Excite 10 LE, a 10.1-inch tablet running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system that will be the thinnest slate to date.

The WiFi-enabled Excite 10 LE, available March 6 from U.S. retailers for $529.99 (16GB) and $599.99 (32GB), is only 7.7mm thin€”roughly the depth of the Motorola Droid Razr smartphones€”and weighs 1.18 pounds. The tablet is powered by a 1.2GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 dual-core CPU.

Toshiba originally introduced the slate in January as the Excite X10 at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, where it was displayed alongside a number of prototype tablets.

The Excite X10 stood out for its Gorilla Glass AutoBrite, In-Plane Switching (IPS) display, sporting a resolution of 1,280 by 800 and LED backlit.

Toshiba, which expects to upgrade the 10 LE to Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, this spring, is billing the rebranded 10 LE machine as a "luxury tablet," crafted with premium materials and components.

Toshiba's thin and light approach with the 10 LE is an about-face from the company's 10.1-inch and 7-inch Toshiba Thrive models, chunky computers wrapped in black, textured rubber for an easy grip.

Toshiba learned last year that consumers don't want chunky and textured; they want thin and light, like Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad 2 or Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 slate.

One characteristic Toshiba did carry over from the Thrive models is the array of connectivity interfaces and ports. The 10 LE sports micro-USB and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) ports, and a micro-SD slot to share content and files with other computers.

The device also boasts a 2-megapixel front camera and 5MP rear camera to provide photo and video shoots, including 1080p video recording and video chat capabilities. Toshiba also expects the device to boast eight hours of battery life, which isn't shabby for a tablet so thin and light.

As for software, the 10 LE is very much a Google-flavored tablet, coming preloaded with Google Music, Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Search and the Android Market. Netflix is also part of the mix for movie lovers.

Toshiba's timing of the Excite 10 LE is not arbitrary; it comes one day after Apple invited press to its iPad 3 launch event, scheduled for March 7 in San Francisco.

Toshiba clearly wants to start selling the tablet before consumers can see what Apple has up its sleeve with its new tablet, which is expected to include a high-resolution screen of 2,048 by 1,536, a more powerful processor and camera.