The Swiss Army Knife of Tablets: Toshiba's Thrive

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User Interface and Camera Performance

The Thrive's software setup is pretty much a stock Android 3.1 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.


Toshiba's Custom File Manager and Media Player Apps

You get 5 customizable home screens along with the traditional Honeycomb interface, its copy and paste functionality, multi-tasking support via the task manager pane 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.

Toshiba Start Place, App Place, and Book Place - EA's Need For Speed: Shift

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 UI but the tablet also 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.  These apps might provide some additional content sources but neither are going to compete all that well versus what Google and other major content players like Amazon and others provide in currently available apps.  EA's Need For Speed: Shift was a nice touch, though only a demo version.

Still image shot courtesy of Toshiba Thrive 5MP camera - cute factor not included.

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 3.1, 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 shots nonetheless.

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