Ever since Android tablets became a thing Toshiba has tried to craft one with mass appeal. The company’s efforts haven’t always led to success, though I like that they keep trying since the core ideas are good. And if it’s recent business-focused Windows 8 tablet is any indication, Toshiba is capable of crafting devices that are both slick and productivity focused. Enter the new line of Excite Android slates: the Excite Pure, Excite Pro, and Excite Write. Priced at $300, $500, and $600 respectively and sporting Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, these tablets look like they could live up to the name. They will be available online starting June 25th and in stores in early July.
All three tablets have the same external design which is basic but not ugly. They don’t weigh too much for 10.1-inch devices (1.4 pounds). Each has the same ports: micro USB, microSD, and micro HDMI. The rounded edges and silver back are somewhat iPad-esque and not as distinctive as previous Excite tablets. Still, the overall package is pretty nice.
Where you start to see differences is in the internal specs. The Excite Pure is the entry level slate with decent specs: 1280 x 800 resolution, Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 3MP rear camera. Those aren’t super exciting specs, but the price is: $300. Just $100 more than the Nexus 7 and $100 less than the Nexus 10, so it sits in a nice place budget-wise and will probably serve most tablet user’s needs.
If you want to step up to something a bit more special, there’s the Excite Pro. With this guy you’ll get a 2560 x 1600 resolution display (same as the Nexus 10), 2GB of RAM, Nvidia’s newest CPU, the Tegra 4, 32GB of internal storage, and an 8MP rear camera. Aside from the high resolution display, Toshiba is also quite proud of the Harmon Kardon speakers inside the Pro and enhanced audio processing from DTS. The claim is that the Pro will produce amazing beats and make for amazing VoIP calls, too. Better tablet sound is always nice, but considering it will still be a tablet, I wouldn’t toss your sound system out the window just yet. The Pro’s $500 price matches the least expensive full-sized iPad and offers more pixels and more storage space, so expect a lot of comparisons on value.
The third member of the Excite family is the one that should interest students and note-taking aficionados most. The Excite Write ($600) has all the same specs as the Pro but adds WACOM digitizer technology to the screen and a digitized pen to use with it. Toshiba is no stranger to the digitized pen tablet, though up until now they only created them for Windows users. If the writing experience is anything like the Portege Z10t, then it should be smooth and feel more like writing on paper than writing on glass.
There is cause for concern, though. No where is there a place to store the pen inside the tablet itself. Pens without ports or easy storage are easier to lose or leave behind.
Like the Galaxy Note 10.1 from Samsung, the Excite Write comes with a note taking app, TruNote, an office suite, and TruCapture for snapping pictures of whiteboards. This last app utilizes the 8-megapixel, f2.2 camera on the back which is not only supposed to be great for board capture but also picture taking thanks to enhanced image stabilization and HDR, among other features. Wrapped up in one package, the Write should make an excellent companion for students and maybe even some business users.
To add more productivity on top of that there’s a Bluetooth keyboard cover available separately for around $90. The cover is both a keyboard and stand and made to fit all three of the new Excite tablets.
Overall, it looks as though Toshiba is going in a good direction with the newest additions to the Excite family. We’re looking forward to getting them in for testing and review soon.