Introducing the Toshiba Excite 7.7

While Toshiba's tablets so far haven't been necessarily bad, like most Android tablets they just haven't really set the world on fire. The only breakthroughs in this market seem to have been ASUS with their Transformers and Amazon's Kindle Fire with its hyper-aggressive pricetag; frankly, the iPad's market stranglehold is a tough nut to crack. That's why I like seeing what Toshiba's up to; most people don't notice when they experiment, but with their Excite line they definitely seem to be doing just that.

Toshiba produced the only 13.3" tablet at the top of the Excite line, but in the smallest form factor, the 7.7", they've gone a different route. The Excite 7.7 eschews the IPS panels most commonly found on tablets in favor of a 1280x800 AMOLED display. The result is a visual experience that's definitely eyecatching compared to other tablets on the market, but can it really justify the $499 starting price?

So here's an interesting question for you: why is the desktop/notebook/case guy handling a tablet review instead of someone like Jason, Anand, Brian, or Vivek? The simple answer is that as someone who doesn't use tablets with any great frequency, I get a slightly different perspective much as Jarred did when he helped review the Acer Iconia A500. This is a big, fresh market that's only going to get bigger with the release of Windows 8; my experience just seeing what HP and Toshiba had in store for that launch is proof enough of that. Just like smartphones have gradually eroded the market for dedicated portable gaming consoles, tablets (and ultrabooks to an extent) have been eating away the market for netbooks. Whether you like it or not, this is the new boss.

With the Excite 7.7, Toshiba is taking the basic foundations of Android tablets and banking on a crucial difference: the AMOLED display. AMOLED is an interesting display technology choice for a tablet; thus far it's been found essentially almost entirely on smartphones, but it has a lot to offer in a bigger size. So while the Excite's 1280x800 resolution isn't necessarily competitive with the substantially higher resolutions of bigger tablets, it makes up for it by having an essentially unmeasurable contrast ratio. When a pixel on an AMOLED display is off, it's off, so there's no calculating a contrast ratio when you have to divide by zero.

Tablet Specification Comparison
  Toshiba Excite 7.7 Apple iPad (2012) Amazon Kindle Fire Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
Dimensions 205.7 x 134.6 x 7.6mm 241.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm 190 x 120 x 11.4mm 230.9 x 157.8 x 8.6mm
Display 7.7-inch 1280x800 AMOLED 9.7-inch 2048 x 1536 IPS 7-inch 1024 x 600 IPS 8.9-inch 1280 x 800 PLS
Weight 349g 652g 413g 447g
Processor NVIDIA Tegra 3 1.3GHz (4 x Cortex A9 + 1 x LP Cortex A9) Apple A5X (2 x Cortex A9, PowerVR SGX 543MP4) 1GHz TI OMAP 4430 (2 x Cortex A9) 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 (2 x Cortex A9)
Memory 1GB 1GB 512MB 1GB
Storage 16GB 16GB 8GB 16GB
Pricing $499 $499 $199 $469

The Excite 7.7's biggest problem from the get go is that price tag, but note that it's among the thinnest and lightest tablets available, easily besting the Amazon Kindle Fire. Thankfully the $499 MSRP isn't what's materializing in retail; a visit to NewEgg reveals the 32GB model available for $509 while the 16GB model is just $429. That's still a chunk of change, but at least it takes it out of striking distance of the incumbent iPad. Weighing about half as much probably doesn't hurt either.

Specifications on the Excite 7.7 are fairly modest; it's Tegra 3 as we're accustomed to for Ice Cream Sandwich-powered Android tablets and features a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Wired connectivity is handled by a micro-USB port, micro-SD slot, and headphone/mic combo jack; wireless is bog standard 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0, with no mobile broadband options. The shell itself is attractive, though, with a black finish around the front display, two speakers on the bottom surrounding the charging port, and an etched aluminum backing.

Display and Performance
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  • fmcjw - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    I think constructive feedback is more helpful than your "just don't read it" attitude.

    The thing is, anything not written by Brian or Anand is pretty low standard stuff.

    Disclaimers in a review are just verbose excuses for laziness or substandard content. If Brian did this review, in the comparison table in the "Storage" row, it won't just have 16GB or 8GB, but 16GB, 16GB+µSD, 16GB+µSDXC, etc.
  • solinear - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Honestly, there are too many reviews for some of these devices. As for the review quality - I don't think it's a bad review, but it's definitely not enthusiastic either way. They're not going "OMG, this is a bad device" or "OMG, this rocks"... the review is going "Um... I had to do this review, but I hate the OS and really just want to go back to using my Windows Phone and wait for Win8 tablets to come out". I might as well go to MacAddict expecting a fair review of Win8 and Android tablets as reading this one.

    For tablets and phones, I'd rather see a page long "highlights" review unless it's a review of an item that is seriously cool. Then once a quarter, see a more thorough review. Seeing the stats for all those devices in every single darned review for a tablet gets really old fast.

    A nice quarterly spreadsheet that summarizes up the performance, memory, etc... of all the devices with their prices would be nice. Then I can come in here, look at the device, read the review of the various features and see if there are any deal breakers and make an informed purchase.
  • jiffylube1024 - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    I think the AMOLED (not SAMOLED+?) display alone makes this tablet interesting. It would be interesting to see this thing in person and compare it to the Nexus 7.

    At 349g, it's basically the same weight as the N7 (340g) and you get a 20.7% screen area increase, which is not too shabby.

    This tablet's got a 5mp rear camera and 2mp front camera - better than the N7's single 0.3 mp front camera (although cameras on tablets, aside from their usage in Skype and other video chatting programs, have always seemed unnecessary to me).

    It's interesting (and unfortunate) to note that there's a proprietary charger for this device; HP, Blackberry and Google had no problems making micro USB chargers; why can't everyone else?

    The pricing for this Toshiba tablet does leave something to be desired; even in the $399-429 price range, clearly the 16GB Nexus 7 at $249 is a better buy.

    Does this Toshiba tablet even come with Android 4.1? The Nexus, as a Google flagship, will be one of the first devices to get subsequent Android updates in a timely fashion. Bit players like these are not at all guaranteed to be updated.
  • nafhan - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    "although cameras on tablets, aside from their usage in Skype and other video chatting programs, have always seemed unnecessary to me"

    I completely agree with this statement.... which is why I was somewhat shocked when I went to an aquarium a few weeks ago and saw quite a few people walking around taking pictures with iPads. To me, this makes no sense, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
  • Origin64 - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Tablets in general are about as interesting as a funeral for someone I didn't know. Everybody's getting all emotional and I can't seem to care.

    But seriously, there just isn't much innovation in tablet-land right now. We can expect something new when win8 hits in a few months, and significant android price-drops after that. The focus will shift from being as fast as possible to being as cheap as possible while remaining competitive performance-wise. ARM just can't keep up to an i5, so why even bother to try?

    The reviewer also raises an interesting point in that he thinks Android isn't perfect for tablets. Too few people have commented on what I also see as careless GUI design in some tablets. On phones it's simple, you've got notifications at the top and buttons down below. Same for the Nexus 7 (at least in portrait) The way the buttons and notifications are placed on this tablet just seems less intuitive to me.
    The icons also appear too small, especially on this one. A 6x6 grid on 7"?
  • pandemonium - Thursday, August 30, 2012 - link

    Because reviews should be full of sparkly vampires, pop-tart rainbow fliers, and lots of campy one-liners?
  • medi01 - Saturday, September 1, 2012 - link

    This reads as a funeral because of, cough, level of "journalizm" at anand, cough...

    AMOLED screen doesn't even get color gamut benchmarks eh? GL benchmark is all we care about? Seriously?

    Article image is showing GREY screen, seriously?

    You suck guys...
  • Jenaii - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - link

    that is right, the tablet market is targeting high performance tablet but that doesn't mean this tablet is out you may check the further review @
  • Jenaii - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - link

    that is right, the tablet market is targeting high performance tablet but that doesn't mean this tablet is out you may check the further review @
  • guidryp - Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - link

    OLED screens are good on power until they display bright screen colors, especially white, when they draw more than LCDs.

    I suspect the dynamic control is really about keeping power usage down. They brighter the screen colors, the more power it draws and the more dimming that kicks in to curtail that power draw.

    If it was just about aesthetics, it would probably be easy to disable.

    I wonder if the Samsung OLED tablet with this screen does the same thing?

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