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Devices

Battery

I don't run battery tests, but here's a summary of the results other reviewers have gotten.

Review Battery Life (h:m)
Engadget 6:25 (video loop, Wi-Fi on)
thisismynext 5:28 (website and image loop, Wi-Fi on)
Laptopmag 6:35 (continuous web surf, 40% brightness)
AllThingsD 5:30 (video loop, Wi-Fi on)
Battery life reports

The consensus seems to be that Toshiba's "up to 11 hours" claim is pretty optimistic. Still, unless you plan to watch streaming video all day with brightness set above 50%, you'll probably get a solid day's use from the Thrive.

I experienced the wake-from-sleep problem once in the three weeks that I've been lightly using the Thrive. Battery rundown during sleep seemed a bit better than other tablets I've tried, lasting about three days before the tablet sounded off with its "plug-me-in" warning.

One of the Thrive's differentiators is its replaceable battery. The Thrive is the only tablet so far that you won't have to send back its mothership when the battery wears out. Given the hassle of getting the cover off and on, however, I doubt most users are going to be buying an extra battery to swap in on a regular basis.

I abandoned my attempt to remove the cover when the last edge (the one near the confusing cover lock) would not easily come free. As other reviewers have noted, you really do feel like you're going to break something when removing the cover (at least the first time).

Applications

The good news is that Toshiba has bundled a few useful apps with the Thrive, many of which you can see in the screenshot below. (Hey, Android guys, when are we going to get a friggin' built-in screenshot feature?!)

The included file manager doesn't let you access any of the Android system files. But it lets you read and write to content folders on its internal flash and anything on whatever SD or USB drives you attach. So navigating directly to files you want to read, watch or play is easy. Check the gallery for a few blurrycam shots of the file manager in action.

Toshiba Thrive apps

I got momentarily excited by the Media Player app, which included UPnP / DLNA capability. But the excitement didn't last long when I found that none of my test videos would play. More on that shortly.

Toshiba's App Place is yet another vendor attempt to preempt the Android Market, which you also have full access to. As frustrating and badly designed as the Market is, no one, even Amazon, has yet come up with something better. Start Place is an Associated Press news reader that doesn't allow any customization. Book Place is an e-book store powered by Blio that will make you wonder why (aside from revenue share) Toshiba bothered to include it.

If you're a Swype keyboard fan, you can dig into the Language and Input > Keyboard Settings and enable it. The other useful include is QuickOfficeHD, which opens (but doesn't let you edit) MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Adobe PDFs without a hitch.

The Application screenshot above and in the gallery show the other apps installed, which are mostly trialware. Note that I downloaded and installed the following apps: Pandora, mVideoPlayer, MoboPlayer, RockPlayer, RockPlayer Lite and VPlayer.

Audio and Video

I used my standard set of music and video files to test the Thrive's media handling. The .MP3 and .M4A test music files played without problem and so did the Pandora app. The sound had enough volume but was too tinny to my ear for any sort of extended listening.

For video, I don't bore you with the details other than to say that the web video I tried played the same as on other Tegra 2 tablets, i.e. mostly good, but with its share of hiccups, all of which I can't say are the tablet's fault.

Especially after seeing the video quality that the HP Touchpad with its Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU can provide with the same test content, I've reached the conclusion that I'm never going to see great HD video results from Tegra 2 based tablets.

The nut of the problem is the limited video formats supported by the Tegra 2's hardware decoding. I'm not exactly pushing the limits with my test content, folks, which consists of pretty standard stuff as shown in the table below.

Format Content
640x480 MJPEG 30 fps Canon digicam SD AVI
H264 MPEG4 1280x544 24 fps Apple "720p" trailer
H264 MPEG4 1280x720 23.980275 fp Blue Man Group "Up to The Roof" video
H264 MPEG4 1920x816 24 fps Apple "1080p" trailer
H264 MPEG4 1280x720 30fps Canon digicam HD AVI
Local video playback test content

The Thrive's specs list both H.264 and MPEG-4 as supported file types. But I know that means little due to all the variations in encoding rates, containers, etc. that exist. But I'd at least expect someone to have a decent player with software decoding.

So far, however, I've tried mVideoPlayer, MoboPlayer, RockPlayer, RockPlayer Lite and VPlayer and none have successfully played all the files on the Thrive or any other Android tablets I've tried. Toshiba's Media Player app also failed miserably, showing only the Canon digicam HD AVI file in its video list and then failing to play the file when I tried it.

Closing Thoughts

Toshiba get points for effort by giving the Thrive some unique features in its replaceable battery and selection of full-sized ports. So if those things get you excited and you don't mind spending more than you have to for a 10" Android 3.1 tablet, then by all means buy the Thrive. But ASUS's Eee Pad Transformer still remains the least expensive and best buy in a 10" Android Honeycomb tablet. So that's still my recommendation.

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