Laptop manufacturing titan Toshiba is joining the Android tablets fray. Last week, the Japanese company announced its official entry to the tablets race: the Toshiba THRiVE, created with laptop users in mind. It will carry the latest Android 3.1 Honeycomb.

Believed to be a potential contender against the iPad 2 and the BlackBerry PlayBook, the Toshiba THRiVE will be available for preorders on Best Buy beginning on June 13 and will be available in U.S. stores on July 10.

Jeff Barney, Toshiba’s digital products department chief, explained that, since the company’s strongest suit is in laptops, they’re going to approach the tablets market with the mindset of a laptop maker. He explained that Toshiba will not take the same approach as other manufacturers are taking; that is, of producing a tablet with extended smartphone functionality and a larger screen. Instead, Toshiba opts to pare the laptop down into a tablet.

It is that kind of reasoning that accounts for the Toshiba THRiVE’s rather thick design–it’s at 0.6 inches. If not for the standard laptop ports that Toshiba decided to latch on to the THRiVE, it probably won’t be as thick. But, laptop lovers will delight in the THRiVE’s built-in ports: HDMI out, SD card slot, USB, and mini USB. These are standard ports on most laptops today, and Toshiba didn’t ditch them in the THRiVE. It weighs about 1.6 pounds–a bit heavier than other tablets. It’s a reasonable tradeoff for battery longevity and performance, if you ask me.

The THRiVE’s back plate is also removable and can be replaced with a different-colored plate. This suggests that the THRiVE has a removable battery. Back plates come in black, green, silver, blue, purple, and pink. Each one costs US$20. These are completely optional, of course, but, along with a removable battery, may draw more eyes toward the THRiVE.

And, with a price much lower than the iPad 2’s, the THRiVE can potentially turn many heads. According to reports, its entry-level model carrying 8 gigabytes of storage will be priced at US$430.

Here are the technical specs of the Toshiba THRiVE:

Processor NVIDIA Tegra 2 (dual-core)
OS Android 3.1 Honeycomb
Screen 10.1 inches
Storage 8 GB; 16 GB; 32 GB
Camera 5 MP (rear); 2 MP (front)
Connectivity Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB, HDMI
Battery removable; max. 8 hours (continuous HD movie viewing)
Software Log Me In (remote desktop connection); file manager; PrintShare
Weight 1.6 lbs
Price US$430 (8 GB)
US$480 (16 GB)
US$580 (32 GB)
Availability June 13 (preorders on Best Buy); July 10 (target release date)

The summer race for Android tablets is indeed heating up, huh?

Image credits: Toshiba, CNET News

  • BoB

    Maybe it’s too late for Toshiba to release their own version of tablet. It’s a little bit surprising that Toshiba is releasing it just now when they are considered for having one of the best laptops in the market today. And if their tablet has nothing unique to offer, they will just end up like the other android tablets out there.

    • JDC

      It does have some unique features not found in other Android Tablets.

      Removable battery, full size USB, mini USB, and HDMI out. Also, the ability to add storage with an SDHC card. These contribute to the thicker design, so it’s a trade off that the buyer will need to decide on.

      • Elmer Montejo

        @JDC: Yes, that’s true. For some, it will be a tough call. But, not for laptop/netbook lovers. If the THRiVE lives up to its rumored battery longevity, then it will surely thrive.

  • Speedy

    I already have an iPad 2 but I am looking forward toadying one of these to my collection. I’ve three toshiba laptops at home now and very happy with their performance. I’m sure this will be one of the better android tablets.

  • As a gadget reviewer I will give rating Toshiba Thrive tablet 7 out of 10 because no dedicate AC adapter for charging, bulky design and facing problem in removing panel.