Toshiba AT200 Excite
The world's thinnest tablet, apparently
Review At only 7.7mm thick, Toshiba boasts that its new tablet is the slimmest yet and it’s a claim I can’t argue with either. Dubbed the Excite in the US and the rather less exciting AT200 elsewhere, Tosh's slim slab is 0.9mm thinner than the previous title holder, the Samsung Galaxy 10.1. While the Apple iPad 2 seems positively portly measuring up at 1.1mm thicker.
Thin as a rake, light as a feather: Toshiba's AT200
It’s also the lightest full-sized tablet I know of, weighing only 535g compared to the Samsung’s 565g and the iPad’s seemingly back-breaking, 601g.
At this point I’d usually have a quick rant about the perils of making things thinner at the expense of physical connectivity but Toshiba seems to have squared the circle by finding room for a microSD card slot as well as micro USB and mini HDMI ports.
Micro USB and Mini HDMI on-board
I can’t bring myself wail too loudly about the USB and HDMI ports not being full-sized and Toshiba certainly deserves a pat on the back for including a screen orientation lock next to the power and volume controls.
The slender dimensions have had an impact on rigidity, however. Give the AT200 a good twist and there is definitely some flex in the chassis. It doesn’t creek or groan nor does the screen ripple but it's not as solid a bit of kit as the Galaxy 10.1.
There's a dock connector too but no accessories for it
Regarding the AT200’s design, Toshiba has come over a bit square. The front and back are completely flat and the edges return at 90 degrees. Only the corners show a bit of curve, a design feature that's either wholly obvious or a
patent blatant iPad rip-off, depending on your point of view.
The rather conservative design is matched by the colour scheme. The back and sides are brushed metal, the latter divided by a black vanity strip while on the front a black bezel surrounds the 1280 x 800 Gorilla Glass LCD screen. The metal makes it feel a bit cold but that’s the only aesthetic grumble I have.
Polished metal at the back with an orientation lock
The Toshiba TruBright screen itself isn’t the brightest I have ever encountered on an Android tablet, despite the name – blacks look blacker on a PlayBook but viewing angles are robust and colours well saturated.
Inside things are similarly less than ground-breaking. Hauling the coal is a 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 dual-core chip with 1GB of RAM, exactly the same as you will find in a Motorola Xoom 2. The OS is the same too, stock Honeycomb 3.2 rather than the more desirable Ice Cream Sandwich.
Cameras on tablets..? Whether you use it or not, they've all got 'em these days
At the time of writing Toshiba hasn’t stated unequivocally that the AT200 will get an ICS update. I’d not buy one until it does. But it’s the CPU that’s the real rub because the quad-core Tegra 3 chipset in the Asus Transformer Prime has moved the game on for high-end tablets and by quite some margin.
That’s not to say dual-core Tegra 2 and OMAP 4 machines don’t do the job because they do, but Tegra 3 devices do everything much faster and are just as careful with the power thanks to that clever fifth virtual core.
No Ice Cream Sandwich – boo!
By way of balance I should point out that the GPS worked perfectly on the AT200, something that couldn’t be said of the Transformer Prime and the two 1.5W loudspeakers are amongst the better I’ve heard fitted to an Android tablet.
Nothing to complain about with the cameras either, which, at 5Mp front and 2Mp back, are par for the course in spec and performance while the webcam works with Skype video calling.
Toshiba reckons the AT200’s anonymous battery is good for 8 hours of video playback. Looping a 720p MP4 file with the screen at maximum brightness got me to the 6hr 45mins mark before the curtains fell, which isn’t far off. As with the Samsung Galaxy 10.1, getting to the ten-hour mark in day-to-day use is no real challenge.
Well made, but a bit late to the party and pricey too
Incidentally, for good or ill the AT200 is a Carphone Warehouse exclusive in the UK for the time being.
At £399 for the 16GB version the AT200 isn’t great value when for an extra £100 you can have the 32GB Asus Transformer Prime with a keyboard dock and performance that simply blows the Toshiba out of the water. If you can live with the extra girth and weight a 32GB Motorola Xoom can be picked up for £250, also from Carphone Warehouse. In short, a nice machine but one launched half a year too late and costing £100 too much. ®
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