The Excite line of tablets from Toshiba is the company's second major outing into the tablet market after its generally well-received Thrive models. With the Excite X10 LE, an Android OS 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) tablet, Toshiba has created what they have called the thinnest tablet on the market. It may look pretty and sport some impressive numbers in terms of its measurements, but how are the rest of its specs and, most importantly, how is its real-world performance? Let's have a look.
Build & Design
At a mere 0.3 inches thick, it's hard to imagine a thinner tablet than the Excite. Admittedly, I'm not crazy about how rounded the corners are -- an especially odd-looking combination with the sharp edges of the tablet -- but it's difficult to deny that this is one sleek tablet.
I recently marveled at how light the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 was in my first-look review, saying that it was one of the lightest 10-inch tablets I've ever handled, but the Excite has it beat. Weighing in at only 1.18 pounds (18.88 ounces), the Excite is feather-light and easily wieldable with one hand. That being said, the backside of the device is a little slick, but it's because it's a very spiffy-looking brushed metal (magnesium alloy) surface. It may not be as practical as a rubberized material, but it sure looks nice.
In terms of the layout, it's relatively standard fare with the power/standby switch, volume rocker, and orientation lock on the right side (when held in landscape orientation), a proprietary charge port and two speakers on the bottom edge, and a pinhole microphone on the top edge of the bezel.
In a move that has become a bit of a trademark for Toshiba, the Excite has an excellent selection of ports -- even despite its svelte build, a choice that often gets in the way of including such features -- all of which are located on the left side. These include a microSD card slot, a headphone/microphone jack, a microUSB port, and a microHDMI port.
And finally, there are the tablet's two cameras: a five-megapixel, rear-facing camera with flash that's located on the back, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, which is a higher resolution than most tablet webcams.
Screen & Speakers
The 10.1-inch display of the Excite has a respectable 1280 x 800 resolution, though its colors and blacks pale in comparison to those found on Super AMOLED, and it's obviously not as sharp as a new iPad Retina display. I was also disappointed by the fact that even on the maximum brightness setting, the display was not very bright at all and suffered from some visibility issues in high-light situations. The tough Corning Gorilla Glass screen is a nice touch, though, and protects the display against drop damage.
The only other complaint I have about the display is an unusual one: it has an odd pattern of various-sized rectangles that speckle it, a pattern that is plainly visible when the display is off. The little rectangles can still be seen through blacks and darker colors when the screen is on, and to say that it's less than attractive is putting it mildly. It's only when viewing whites or lighter colors on the screen can the pattern go unnoticed. I don't know why the display has this bizarre pattern on it; my editor insists that this is actually something common to Toshiba tablets (as he noticed it on the Thrive models, as well), but rest assured that it isn't a good look.
The speakers on the Excite are pretty pitiful, even by tablet standards. Toshiba claims that the tablet's speakers feature "premium sound enhancements by SRS," but there is nothing premium about their sound quality (though if you use headphones, the quality is obviously much better). And aside from being of very poor quality in general, the speakers are also disappointingly weak, even with the volume cranked all the way up. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, given how small they are. I initially couldn't even tell where they were until spotting the two telltale slits on the bottom of the device. But I suppose these are the sacrifices that Toshiba had to make in order to produce such a thin, compact tablet.
Toshiba Excite 10 LE specs:
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