Toshiba is one of the first manufacturers that are building tablets using the new Tegra 4 chip from Nvidia. The 10-inch eXcite Pro and eXcite Write will arrive during the months of July on the market. In terms of mid-range devices, Toshiba has also presented a Tegra 3-stocked tablet called the eXcite Pure. Finally, a Bluetooth Keyboard Cover completes the entire package. Toshiba presented these tablets during the Computex IT conference. I had the opportunity to test the eXcite Pro with the Bluetooth Keyboard before things got shaking down at the event.
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An unimpressive design
At a first glance, you would never know that the eXcite Pro is a brand-new tablet with the newest generation processor on board: the design and material seem less exclusive. The plastic housing with its grooved back feels neither particular valuable, nor form original in form, unlike Sony who did much better job with its Tablet Z for example. Toshiba demonstrated with the Excite AT200 in 2012 that they can do better. According to the manufacturer, the demo model largely constitutes how the final design will appear, though some small improvements may be on their way.
Toshiba equipped the Pro and Write with a resolution of 25,620x1,600 pixels. This makes the screen image bitingly crisp and with a pixel density of 301 ppi, it has the same value as the Nexus 10. Unfortunately, the screen doesn't have a particularly high luminosity in bright daylight, since when in direct sunlight there was hardly anything to see. That being said, watching movies proved to be fun and the experience was heightened with the high quality stereo speakers that Toshiba installed on Pro and Write. The Japanese took advantage yet again of its successful collaboration with the hi-fi manufacturer Harman/Kardon, and the result can be distinctly heard: the clear and full stereo sound impressed me immediately.
Sharp pictures and clear sound: the display and speaker
All tablets from the eXcite series have Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on board and are complemented by a range of Toshiba apps. There are practical ones such as the Office package which works well in conjunction with the Bluetooth keyboard. For writing, there's a digital pen called the Digitizer and a a full-fledged software package called TruNote. This app's biggest plus is its seamless connection between analog and digital notes: it recognizes handwritten note, drawings and tables. Photos on whiteboards will automatically be converted to digital format. Performing searches with handwritten notes is also possible with TruNote. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to test this function out yet, though TruNote did seem quite promising during the presentation at Computex.
Software and Accessories: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, TruNote and Digitizer
A Bluetooth Cover Keyboard is also compatible for all three tablets. Once the tablet is in its holder, the keyboard functions as a full QWERTZ keyboard: special keys offer control over the tablet functions and by means of a keypad, you're able to navigate within the menu. Typing with the keyboard works well and the keys have a very comfortable feel. When folded, the keyboard turns into a kind of protective cover and when combining it with the tablet, you get a veritable netbook replacement.
Processor and Performance: Fast, faster, Tegra 4?
An interesting detail about the eXcite Pro and Write is its processor: both deliver the new Tegra 4 chipset. This was presented by Nvidia earlier this year during the CES in Las Vegas. During the course of my test, I wasn't able to see the Tegra 4's lightening-fast speed and its excellent qualities. The software and hardware of the previous the device series had not been perfectly matched. Now, the benchmark results show that the chipset isn't able to set itself that far apart from the competition as suggested and most importantly, hoped. With over 28000 points on the AnTuTu, it may seem like a high-flyer. That being said, an unnamed ''reference tablet'' with the Tegra 4 chip had more than 36000 points.
The results shown in the AnTuTu test coincide approximately with the value of the Notebook Italia which was already discovered in April in the AnTuTu database for a device under the name AT10LE-A. In order to really be able to assess the performance power of the Tegra 4, it's much to early. Once the Toshiba tablets arrive on the market in June, we will be able to take a closer look at the processor.
8 MP Camera: not much contrast, but rich in detail
The two ten-inch Pro and Write are both equipped with a 8 MP lens and thus are able to shoot HD photos and videos. Whether you want to use such a large tablet for this purpose is questionable. It isn't possible to focus the picture with your fingertip right on the big display, in case you wanted to hold the tablet with both hands at the same time.
It seems like Toshiba considered high quality photo and video shooting to be important, though my test photos were merely satisfactory. The tablet makes darker areas a lot lighter and blacks turn into greys. But where it lacks in contrast, it gains in detail-richness. The HDR software should be spruced up with an upcoming update which may bring some needed improvement to the camera.
eXcite Pure, Pro and Write: three devices, three classes
With the eXcite family, Toshiba starts the year off with a bang and presents a device for every need and budget. All three come with the present Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software as well as the Bluetooth Keyboard as a universal accessory. The Pure is the basic version that comes with a Tegra 3 processor, 1 GB RAM, WXGA display and a 3 MP camera: it is a significantly more low-range than its peers.
The Pro plays in a higher league and has acquired the brand-new Tegra 4 processor, 2 GB RAM, a razor-sharp PixelPure display, the Harman/Kardon speakers and a HDR capable 8 MP camera. All in all, it's technical facilities are downright awesome which put it right at the top of the totem pole. The Write comes with the same technical specs as the Pro, plus it offers the Digitizer and pertinent TruNote software: a big plus for those who employ their tablets in a work setting.
The Pro is set to come out for $500 while the Write will go for $600. The Pure, being the lower-end tablet, will cost $300.
|Operating System:||Android 4.2||Android 4.2||Android 4.2|
Nvidia Tegra 3, Quad Core, 1.3 GHz
|Nvidia Tegra 4, Quad Core, 1.8 GHz||Nvidia Tegra 4, Quad Core, 1.8 GHz|
|Memory:||1 GB RAM||2 GB RAM||2 GB RAM|
|Display:||10.1 Zoll, 1280 x 800 Pixel||10.1 Zoll, 2560 x 1600 pixel||10.1 Zoll, 2560 x 1600 pixel|
|Camera:||1.2 MP front, 3 MP back||1,2 MP front, 8 MP back||1,2 MP front, 8 MP back|
|Connection and Networks:||WLAN 11 abgn, Bluetooth 4.0||WLAN 11 ac & abgn, 3G, Bluetooth 4.0||WLAN 11 ac & abgn, 3G, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Accessory:||Bluetooth Cover Keyboard||Bluetooth Cover Keyboard||Bluetooth Cover Keyboard, Digitizer|
|Sound:||DTS, Toshiba Sound Enhancement, Stereospeaker||DTS, Toshiba Sound Enhancement, harman/kardon stereospeaker||DTS, Toshiba Sound Enhancement, harman/kardon stereospeaker|