At first glance, the Thrive 7 is a dead ringer for the original Thrive, though obviously its packed in a 7-inch design. That said, there are some notable differences like the speaker positioning, which is now on the left side edge of the tablet while holding it in landscape orientation, or on the bottom edge, in portrait orientation, which is also where the new, larger synch/charge docking port is.
The Thrive 7 also has a concealment panel behind which its micro and mini HDMI and USB ports are located, along with the micro SD card slot. The same volume rocker, orientation lock switch and power button are here on the Thrive, as well as Toshiba's almost trademark "Easy Grip" back cover, with its "Black Tie" finish. We're fond of the backing material actually; it offers a confident feel in the hand to us. This, however, this is a subjective area that may or may not appeal to all.
Toshiba's Custom File Manager and Media Player Apps
EA's Need For Speed: Shift HD
The Thrive's software setup is pretty much a stock Android 3.2 experience with a couple of Toshiba-built services plugged in as apps for the tablet. There are also a couple of useful Toshiba-built utilities installed as well. Otherwise, from top to bottom the experience is pretty much just what Android delivers and relatively light on bloatware thankfully.
You get 5 customizable home screens along with the traditional Honeycomb
interface, multi-tasking support via the task bar and resizable widgets. Toshiba also includes a custom-built file manager that does a nice job of organizing files from three primary sources on in the tablet: internal memory, SD card and external USB storage. The media player app is pretty straight-forward but does offer a nice UI and also the ability to browse network sources for content as well.
The Thrive also comes with pre-installed Toshiba App and Book stores, as well as a news portal app. The app store has some novel items and a fairly sleek web interface but the tablet comes with Google's stock Android market as well. The same thing goes for the books store app and Google's Book market is on board too. EA's Need For Speed: Shift was a nice bundled game addition, though only a demo version.
Still image shot courtesy of Toshiba Thrive 5MP camera
Finally, we took a quick snap with the Thrive's on-board 5MP camera and it's safe to say performance was on par with what we've seen from other Android tablets in this price range. The camera app you use is also what comes stock with Android 3.2, which is actually quite full-featured and handy. As we've seen previously with other tablets, in low light situations, you need a steady hand for stills, and even then, images will still be a grainy. However, in outdoor lighting, image quality is fairly solid. The tablet's 720p HD video quality isn't going to rival even a Flip video camera either, but it's still nice to have for random, spur of the moment quick takes nonetheless.