I have just spent the last two days reviewing the new Toshiba AT200, a 10.1″ Android tablet that has a thin 7.7mm waistline, and is so light that one has to question why all the earlier Android Tablets were so heavy.This new device which weighs in at 535 grams is a real screamer on several fronts: firstly I got more than eight hours battery life out of the tablet even with heavy video viewing and the uploading of over 30 applications. Secondly the 1,280×800 pixel resolution display screen is significantly brighter than similar offerings from Acer, Motorola and Asus.
The big letdown is that the device has been released running on Android’s 3.2 Honeycomb OS instead of Android 4.0, which is a new OS compatible Google’s blisteringly fast Chrome application. The application allows one to share bookmarks saved on chrome between a PC, smartphone and tablet.
Currently I run Chrome Marks to manage the browser content between my Chrome desktop and my Android devices.
However I am assured that the new tablet is upgradable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) OS.
The device is faster than the Toshiba tablet predecessor due to its 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB or 32GB internal storage.
The Nvidia Tegra 2 chip found in the previous model has been dumped in favour of the dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4430.
What is missing which made the AT 100 a standout is the replaceable battery, colour coded replaceable cover and a full HDMI port, (the new model has a micro HDMI port.)
The rear panel is made of brushed metal and features a 5-megapixel camera – another front-facing camera is for video calling which worked brilliantly when we tested it in the office using Skype.
Click to enlarge
Connectivity includes a microUSB port, microSD expansion, a micro HDMI, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Flash 10.3 compatibility, which is excellent when downloading video from sites who have large inventories of Flash video files.
The AT200 is just 7.7mm thick which basically is the width of the Financial Review. This has been achieved by using printed circuitry and microelectronic components, which is what Toshiba is good at as they have been packing micro components into notebooks longer than anyone.
How does this stack up against an iPad a friend asked? Better, for the simple reason that it communicates with more devices, is lighter and thinner and packs into a bag easily without adding a lot of weight.
The micro USB slot allows you to plug the device directly into an HDTV which is something that you cannot do with an iPad.
And at 7.7mm thick, the device is thinner than the Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1, which when you pick up to compare appears at first to be thinner than the Toshiba offering, that is until you compare the total width of the two devices.
What Samsung has done is tapper off the edges to make it look thinner.
The next model Samsung Galaxy 10.1″ Tab is set to get the super bright AMOLED display which will give it an edge.
What Toshiba has delivered with their tablets from day one has been superior connectivity.
The AT200 has micro-USB, micro-HDMI and micro-SD, and while I did not undo the casing on this device it appears that Toshiba has improved the audio output. We first noticed this when testing the Skype connection; it was also a big improvement when we tested the output from the AT 100 Vs the AT 200.
For those who love using Skype and have already downloaded the application from the Android Marketplace you will have to go back and download the video upgrade, this allows you to use the front facing camera.
We also noticed that the new AT 200 booted significantly quicker than any other Android tablet we have tested with the device going from boot to active screen in 27 seconds.
In the shipped version, there were several neat little apps already loaded such as Think Free Office Mobile, Voice Search and Citrix receiver, which allows one to easily connect enterprise apps to a cloud environment.
The device has a recommended retail price of $579 which is nearly $200 cheaper than the ASUS Transformer notebook that comes with a keyboard.
What I did was simply connect a cheap $59 wireless keyboard from Laser Corporation to write this review. In settings I simply turn on Bluetooth and paired the keyboard.
I was also able to easily link my emails, Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as my Google Mail account with the emails displayed easily in my Exchange browser.
Toshiba has also improved the charging adapter. Instead of a heavy adaptor similar to notebooks Toshiba now has an adapter that is similar to a phone adapter with a much larger connector that attaches to the slim bezel of the tablet.
The big advantage that Apple has is that several manufacturers are making accessories for their iPad. What I would like see Toshiba do is set up a global online website that sells tablet accessories, starting with a cover, followed by a simple charging dock that allows one to sit the device up in front of you to write using a Bluetooth keyboard.
The bottom line is that this is a stunningly light tablet that is easy in the hand as well as on the eyes. With Android 4.0 this tablet will be a benchmark for others.