Powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, a dual-core mobile CPU clocked at 1GHz, and 1GB of memory, the Toshiba Thrive 7-inch felt fast and responsive throughout the course of this review. In fact, in seeking a second opinion of the device, I handed it to my wife and she was immediately struck by the alacrity with which she could browse Pinterest.com, the popular virtual pinboard.
In a more scientific study, the Toshiba Thrive 7-inch turned in below average results on our two tablet benchmarks. It finished in the low end of the pack on Quadrant, far behind the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and its 1.2 GHz Samsung Exynos processor. We saw similar results with SunSpider, which measures browser performance, where the Thrive 7-inch failed to distinguish itself and again the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus led the pack.
Quadrant measures CPU, 3D, and memory performance. Higher numbers are better.
I found that the Thrive 7-inch took roughly 30 seconds to boot up. And I didn’t encounter the sleep/wake bug some users experienced with the Thrive 10-inch. When streaming HD content via the included YouTube app with the screen set to maximum brightness and Wi-Fi on, the Thrive 7-inch’s battery ran for just over 3 hours, which was about 1.5 hours shorter than the larger Thrive 10-inch lasted. In addition to its larger screen, the Thrive 10-inch features a larger battery — 23Wh to the 15Wh battery of the Thrive 7-inch.
After using an iPhone and an iPad 2 for the better part of the year, I was surprised at how natural the Thrive 7-inch felt during gaming. Games are much more engaging than on an iPhone, and the Thrive 7-inch is more comfortable to navigate games than the larger iPad. I played Need for Speed Shift HD, which Toshiba includes on the tablet and I was racing with great speed and, more importantly, smooth gameplay.
The Thrive 7-inch features Bluetooth 2.1 and 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity. Unfortunately, the tablet had trouble maintaining a strong Wi-Fi signal. In my (small) house; it would drop the signal when I strayed too far downstairs from my 802.11n router located in my office upstairs. The most my iPad 2 loses within the confines of my home is one bar of Wi-Fi signal strength.
OS and Apps
Toshiba outfits the Thrive 7-inch with the same basic Honeycomb install as the Thrive 10-inch. It runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb and features five customizable home screens and a host of Google apps, including Google Movie Maker, Android Music Player, Google eBooks, Google Maps, Google Talk, and YouTube.
Toshiba includes a handful of its own apps, including the Toshiba File Manager, which lends a vaguely Windows feel to the tablet and helps to distinguish the Thrive from specialized, less expensive 7-inch tablets such as the Barnes & Noble NOOK and the Kindle Fire. If a 7-inch tablet is going to be a daily productivity device in addition to acting as an entertainment outlet, you’ll find the File Manager a useful tool to keep track of documents and other files stored on the tablet or SD card. On Android, it’s not always easy to locate a file, and Toshiba’s File Manager app is very helpful in giving you a clear view of the tablet’s folder hierarchy.
In addition to Google and Toshiba apps, the Thrive 7-inch features a number of third-party apps. Among a handful of card games and a backgammon app, you’ll find a 30-day trial of Kaspersky antivirus protection, Quickoffice HD, which lets you view but not edit Microsoft Office docs, and Printer Share to print to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth printers.
The keyboard felt responsive and features haptic feedback and Swype technology. You can’t split the keyboard, but you don’t really need to, given the compact dimensions of the display.