One is exciting, the other isn’t. Care to guess?
Toshiba’s AT270 and AT300 tablets (branded as the Excite tablets outside UAE) are a premium version of the company’s first step into the tablet market, bringing some unique features and some very useful extras not usually found in the competition. Today I’ll be looking at both the AT270 7-inch and AT300 10-inch tablets.
Essentially both these tablets have the same internals, but within a different form factor that targets two different market segments. Obviously the AT300 competes against the regular iPad and other 10-inch tablets, and even claims to go up against 11-inch laptops.
Specs wise the AT300 is pretty decent, but nothing extraordinary. We have the almost year-old Tegra 3 quad-core processor running at 1.5GHz and the ULP GeForce 2 GPU. With 1GB RAM and a screen resolution of 1280×800 we get a fairly capable machine for most of your daily web browsing and modern gaming needs.
The black strip shows excessive light and low resolution.
Sadly the screen leaves a lot to be desired on the AT300, as the 800p resolution gives a measly 149ppi pixel density, which means you better hold the tablet at arm’s length lest you would like to see grainy images and blotchy text. The LED LCD doesn’t help either as there’s a lot of light bleeding from the edge of the screen. The viewing experience on the Toshiba AT300 is therefore average at best.
However, if that’s not something you’re particularly fussed about, then you’ll be glad to know that the AT300 has slot for full sized SD cards (expansion up to 32GB), a microUSB and a mini-HDMI port. Note that the microUSB port only allows to transfer data, not charge the AT300; there’s a proprietary slot at the bottom (where the speakers are located) to hook up the charging cable.
On the other hand we have the 7.7-inch tablet that has a better chance of fending off the competition in this rather newly developed market. The exciting thing about the AT270 is that is has pretty much the exact same specs as the AT300, but in the smaller form factor it feels like a much tighter experience.
Overall usage feels the same, though, as the AT270 also has an 800p screen being powered by the Tegra 3 quad-core CPU running at 1.5GHz and the ULP GeForce 2 GPU with 1GB RAM. What makes the experience even better, though, is the AMOLED screen, with rich colors and extremely good blacks, bringing out a crisp image with a brilliant contrast ratio.
The black strip is barely differentiated from black body; better resolution.
Viewing angles also improve significantly on the AT270 including the 196ppi pixel density which makes both reading eBooks and watching films a great experience. Add to this a microSD card slot (expandable to 32GB) and you’ve got a nifty little tablet that should keep up with any media you throw at it.
As with the AT300, the AT270 also has a microUSB slot which is only used for data transfer, while the proprietary slot is used for charging. However, a cool function that both the AT tablets share is the Toshiba Video and Audio enhancement functions which improve their respective fields. While the video enhancement slightly tweaks the gamma and the contrast, the audio enhancement clears the mid-level audio for a relatively crisper experience.
The overall finishing on both Toshiba AT tablets is one of the best I have seen, coming in second only to Apple’s iPads. The AT300 is only 9mm thick, weighing in at a respectable 600 grams, while the AT270 is an even slimmer 7.8mm and weighs only 332 grams. Not the best in the industry, but very impressive nonetheless.
Battery life on the AT300 is over 9 hours with mixed usage of internet browsing, HD YouTube videos and some Angry Birds for an hour. The same level of usage on the AT271 yielded an extra hour, going well over 10 hours. The last thing I want to touch upon is that Toshiba says that the AT tablets may not see the Android Jelly Bean update as they prefer the Flash support on ICS. Again, this may or may not be a cause of concern for some.
The Toshiba AT270 is an excellent tablet, with my only complaint being that it is being undercut severely by the likes of the Nexus 7 and the new iPad mini. Toshiba has to drop the price by well over $100 to make the AT270 truly competitive.
As for the AT300, the LCD panel is a real disappointment, with the LCD panel and its low pixel density and eye-straining brightness (from poor contrast ratio). The pricing on this is acceptable, and the expansion slots on both tablets make them an exciting proposition. Certainly either tablet will make a great holiday gift, but given the price, there is stiff competition from both Apple and Samsung (for Google tablets).