The new Excite tablets expand Toshiba’s scope to 13-inch Android tablets, as Android 4.0 becomes more geared towards desktop and laptop-replacement uses. But, Thrive owners still lack Ice Cream Sandwich, and Toshiba may be backing away from statements provided to PhoneNews.com on the matter. We were unable to get a reaffirmation of the statements provided back in January from Toshiba representatives at CTIA.
The Excite is not as much a replacement for the Thrive as it is a refinement; Toshiba’s largest claim to fame with the tablet line is that it is the thinnest tablet to be introduced to the market to-date. It does so at a large performance hit though, choosing slower TI chipsets over the latest CPU/GPU combinations from NVIDIA and Qualcomm.
Going hands-on at CTIA, Excite’s new 13-inch tablet in particular leaves us asking for a bit more. There isn’t any
simple way to transport it like one would an ultrabook or laptop. As a laptop replacement, that alone leaves it standing out as just an oversized tablet… notwithstanding Android 4.0’s limitations which preclude replacing traditional desktop operating systems.
The Thrive itself is not without hardware controversy, appearing to have screen cracking issues that the company has yet to acknowledge.
The Excite tablets are ready to ship, however, and overall from our experiences with them give Toshiba new competitiveness that they did not maintain with the Thrive. With the Thrive, Toshiba had little, if any niche offerings. At one point, Toshiba’s main claim to fame was a full array of SD card options with host USB support. That competitive advantage quickly dwindled. The result left 10-inch Thrive units for selling well under $249 on eBay. Worse, the tablets were branded as “manufacturer refurbished”, but actually turned out to be brand new units… rebadged to prevent market dilution.
Regardless, Toshiba should follow-through and offer an ICS update for Thrive. Considering the lightened-up hardware’s similarities to the Excite hardware, and Tegra 2’s proven-and-demonstrated ability to run Android 4.0 without problem… it’s clear to us that this is a promise that should be kept.
Update: Representatives for Toshiba have re-confirmed to PhoneNews.com that both Thrive models will be upgraded to Android 4.0. The manufacturer does not have a timeline for the upgrade, only assuring that the updates for seven and ten-inch Thrives will be completed before the end of the year. Toshiba stressed that users would in all likelihood nothave to wait until the end of the year to be updated, however.