Top positive review
45 people found this helpful
Wouldn't trade this tablet for anyting on the market
on August 11, 2012
Jellybean is here, as you may have noticed from some of the other reviews. A couple things are worth mentioning here:
1) Upgrading gave me problems. Things were glitchy and slow until I did a factory reset. Obviously you don't care about this if you haven't bought the tablet yet, but if you did, just be aware that you might need to start over to get the kind of experience you would expect from jellybean. With that said, Jellybean is great and runs very well. Better performance than my Galaxy Nexus, but still not even close to the Nexus 7, sadly.
2) The jellybean update forces "phablet" mode. What this means is that your excite is now meant to be used as a giant phone, which means you lose the quick settings on the bottom right, dual panel mode for menus and other things (for example, instead of clicking on display settings and then changing them immediately), and navigation buttons on the right. The navigation buttons are now in the middle of the bar no matter what, so if you use landscape mode there is no way to press back or recents unless you a) have really long thumbs, or b) you let go of the tablet with one hand and use that hand to navigate. On the plus side, you get the notification window, and now your tablet looks like a nexus 7! I'm considering lowering my rating because I dislike the setup of the new update so much, but I don't think it will bother most people. Honestly I hate it though.
Performance IS better. Overall it is worth the upgrade--everything is very smooth, and a little faster. Not remarkably faster, but it IS an upgrade all around in terms of performance. Battery life, while still far far far less than advertised, seems to be noticeably better, but I always have a hard time telling without several days/weeks of heavy use, which I haven't put in yet.
Overall I still love the tablet, I've had it for longer than any of my other tablets now (which is kind of sad and shameful), and I plan on keeping it indefinitely. I never get tired of the screen. Ever.
I was lucky enough to get all the official accessories I wanted before Toshiba totally stopped making them, but if you were hoping to pick up this tablet plus a dock, you can forget it. I've looked around constantly for the benefit of others who might want HDMI out and the USB ports, but I can't even find it on ebay. For making such a good product, Toshiba has really dropped the ball in every other way possible. I still stand by the fact that this tablet is definitely worth the purchase, just know that what you get is all you get.
Lastly, if anyone was having trouble with camera shots using flash incorrectly, i.e. leaving a big black bar at the bottom of a picture taken of a document or something like that, that problem has been fixed with this update. Pictures seem slightly better overall, but are still bad. I just think they improved the use of the flash.
Feel free to ask questions in the comments!
Let me begin this review by saying that I have owned the Xoom, 1st gen Iconia, Transformer Prime, and Nexus 7. I will be making most comparisons to the latter 2 since they are both Tegra 3 devices. I had both the N7 and Excite at the same time, so I was able to compare them quite thoroughly. Let me also say that I originally ordered the 16gb unit and returned it for the 32gb unit, so I have 2 tablets to go by for this review.
Screen: By far the best I have seen or used on any device. No light bleed, no dead pixels on either unit. This is NOT a pentile matrix screen (like the galaxy nexus) and you can't see the pixel grid like you can on pretty much all the galaxy S phones. I honestly can't describe how good this screen is, you just need to go look at a demo unit if you can. The screen on the nexus 7 looks like someone took an excite screen and rubbed vomit all over it--there is literally no comparison in terms of color contrast. The extra .7" also makes reading text noticeaby easier in portrait compared to the nexus 7. 10/10
Camera: As bad as other reviews say, or worse. This is the most disappointing part of the tablet for me, although if you need it to scan documents, it does a fine job with that. The front facing camera is actually above average for a 2mp camera in my opinion. Back camera 4/10, front 8.5/10
Performance: Fantastic. Unlike the TF Prime, there are almost no browsing ANRs with this device (as in 1 per day or less after several hours of usage). Games play without studdering and everything works smoothly as it should. No, it doesn't feel like jelly bean--the N7 is by far the best performing device on the market right now, but as long as you aren't expecting that kind of ridiculous smoothness, you will be very very pleased with the performance of this tab. Again, unlike the prime, there is no trouble with movies. You can open one and move to any part of the movie without the whole app crashing and starting over (movies look stupidly good in 720p by the way). Multitasking is fine--there is a slight delay when switching programs, but it is as good or better than any other 4.0 device I have used. 9/10
Storage (I/O performance): I made this a seperate section because of how it totally ruined the TF Prime. Basically, everything works as it should. You can transfer files without the device slowing to a crawl or crashing, downloading and installing apps is mostly unnoticeable, and you can download large files for games in the background instead of having to leave the app open all the time like I did with my prime. There are 2 major problems I need to point out here, however:
1) this device does not support NTFS format--basically if you plan on plugging in a bunch of memory cards or flash drives into this tablet, you need to look for something else.
2) apps DO NOT save data to your SD card. Toshiba labeled internal storage as "SDcard" and external storage as "SDcard2" so everything automatically saves to the internal storage. I strongly recommend the 32gb for this reason, but you can still use the external card for movies, music, pictures, etc. Just be aware that all apps and data will be saved to the internal storage. For what it's worth, this doesn't cause me any real world problems, it just annoys me.
Overall: good performance, piss poor engineering on Toshiba's part. They should be ashamed of themselves and issue an update immediately, although I would not expect this to change, ever. 7/10
Speakers: Not sure what to say here since I had a fairly different experience with the 16 and 32. First of all, to enjoy the speakers the way they were meant to be used, you need to check ALL the options under audio enhancements except for the last one. Once this is done, volume is fairly loud and voices in movies are almost always audible, although if you are watching something where the actors mumble or use accents (like the Town), you will need headphones. The speakers on my 16gb were distorted at max volume, but improved over the course of a week. Sound was worse than N7. As strange as this sounds, they may actually need some burn-in. My 32gb has no distortion and sounds better than the N7's speakers, although I have no idea why. Compared to the prime, however, these speakers are pitiful (honestly the prime has unbelievably good speakers). 7.5/10. Maybe 8.
Battery life: decent. I get about 5-6 hours of screen time on average. However, if you turn off auto brightness, you can get about 2 more hours if you aren't set to higher brightness levels the whole time. I have no idea how people are claiming to get 10 hours, but I haven't completely cycled the battery on my 32, so the 16gb battery may have been a dud. So far this battery seems better, but I will update the review if it starts getting close to 10 hours. 7/10
Wifi, bluetooth, and GPS: great wifi speed and reception. GPS will pretty much lock on indoors, which amazes me. No problems with Bluetooth, I can hook up a mouse and keyboard while web browsing with no issues (unlike the prime). Wifi reception is better than the N7 by about 1 bar in my experience. 10/10
Size and build quality: This is what makes this tablet a keeper. When people say this tablet is super thin and light, what they mean is that you can comfortably hold this tablet with 2 fingers and your thumb for 10-20 minutes in either orientation. Outstanding as an e-reader, especially with the high resolution text and high contrast. Holding this tablet is such a pleasure--you will WANT to take it everywhere because its so portible and unbelievably comfortable to use. You won't even think about the fact that you're holding it--the thing practically floats on its own. This, combined with the outrageous screen and lack of performance issues, makes this tablet by far the most pleasurable android tablet experience I have ever had. Whoever said this tablet is too big to hold in one hand meant that it is too wide to grab both sides at once--holding the tablet from one side is perfectly comfortable. The materials feel extremely solid and the texture is just right for gripping. It is less than half the thinness of the N7, and as an added bonus, the screen doesn't come off the tablet like it does with half the N7 models (no one should ever buy an asus product, tbh)
Build and useability: 11/10. Yes, its that good. Nothing anywhere on the market rivals the excite in this regard.
Other: root is not attainable at the time of this review. Bootloader is locked. Hardly any accessories are available and they are extremely expensive, although they appear to be extremely high quality (the dock and jacket, in particular). The excite 10 will be getting jellybean, so it is perfectly reasonable to expect the 7.7 will get it also, even though it may take 6 months or so. I have rooted every device I have ever owned, and I hate not being able to customize this tablet--with that said, I would still recommend it to anyone, even flashaholics. I really think we will get root, but custom ROMs are not likely.
Overall: Again, I would recommend this tablet to anyone. In my opinion, $500 for the 32gb is entirely worth the price--I was happy to pay $520, personally. Although this tablet doesn't perform as well as the N7, it has so much more useability and adaptability than the N7 will ever have--believe me when I say you are getting just as much for your money as you are with the N7. Camera, SD card slot, outrageous screen, and best build quality on the market. My best recommendation is to actually hold one of these and use it for a minute--you will find yourself not caring about specs and details because you will be too busy enjoying the overall experience.
Again--and I can't stress this enough--this is THE MOST enjoyable tablet experience I have ever had. I can't put this thing down and it never disappoints me with what it can accomplish in terms of speed and productivity. I know the price is steep, but again, completely waranted. I do think 500 and 580 are way too high, but with the current price on Amazon, I would give this tablet some serious thought.