Two Hands On With Toshiba’s Massive 13-Inch Excite Tablet
Apps not built for tablets, such as Facebook’s Android app, look especially bad on the Toshiba Excite 13. Also, take a gander at the blemish in the middle of the screen. Photo: Peter McCollough/Wired
Android isn’t ready for a 13.3-inch tablet.
But this isn’t stopping Toshiba, which thinks the world is ready for a tablet as massive as the Excite 13. And, indeed, perhaps a small number of consumers, business folk and even musicians might want this much screen real estate. We can see how Toshiba’s new mega-tablet could be convenient for reading sheet music.
But opening up Twitter, Facebook and even the Google+ Android app on the Excite 13 reveals that few, if any, developers have anticipated their applications being upscaled to a tablet this size.
Most Android apps are built for phones, while a much smaller number are designed for tablets with 7- or 10-inch screens. When many of these apps render on a 13.3-inch display — Toshiba’s display is 1600×900 — the result is a multitude of stretched-out login boxes, awkwardly vacant white and black space, and user interface designs that simply look broken.
While the dimensions of the 13-inch screen degraded the appearance of most Android apps, a few pieces of software survived none the worse for wear. Angry Birds In Space looked just fine, and reading a few pages of Moby Dick in Google’s Books app was a pleasant experience, with two full pages of text, side by side. And when surfing the web in both the Android browser and Google Chrome, most websites thankfully defaulted to their desktop versions, offering full-screen, full-content experiences rather than the mobilized versions of websites.
Nonetheless, the 13-inch screen experience didn’t strike me as game-changing — I wasn’t suddenly compelled to ditch my 10.1-inch Android tablet for the promise of greater screen real estate.
Our Excite 13 review unit came with an screen blemish — likely a pocket of air trapped between the layers of display components. Photo: Peter McCollough/Wired
Making matters worse, our review unit was shipped to us with a significant blemish: what appeared to be an air bubble was trapped between the layers of the Excite 13′s display — smack dab in the middle, and completely unavoidable. As we touched the screen, the bubble would move and react like one of those old-timey oil immersion toys.
Toshiba said one other product reviewer had called to complain about the same issue, and that the cause wasn’t a manufacturing defect, but rather the result of some “climate problems” that occurred when the devices were shipped to the U.S.
Hopefully, production models hitting store shelves in the coming days won’t have the same problem. But if the bubble does show up on your tablet, any retailer should swap it out with a bubble-free Excite. Hopefully, our bubble will fade away at some point, but after more than 24 hours of use, it remains. This isn’t something you’d expect from a tablet that sells for $650 with 32GB of storage, and $750 for a 64GB model.
Aside from the bubble, the Excite 13 feels like a well-made tablet. The touchscreen isn’t as responsive as what we’ve seen on rival Android tablets such as the Asus Transformer Prime, but it remains a speedy performer thanks in part to its use of Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM. The Excite 13 also runs Google’s Android 4.0 operating system (Ice Cream Sandwich) with basically no alterations.
We have a lot more testing to do before writing a full review, but already we’re asking the same question that came up when the Excite 13 was announced in April: Does the world need a 13-inch tablet?
After actually using the device, my first thought is, No, I don’t need a tablet this size. But Toshiba has made the point that the Excite isn’t designed purely as a one-person tablet. Rather, it’s what Toshiba described as a “home tablet.”
“The larger size makes it an ideal kitchen tablet,” Jared Leavitt, a Toshiba spokesman, told Wired in April. “You can watch how-to videos while you’re cooking, or look up recipes. And then later, you can bring it into the living room to watch videos with the kids, or to look at family photos with friends.”
So, as I get down to the business of putting the Excite 13 through its paces, I’ll be doing just that: using this tablet with friends to check out photos and to watch video.
One thing I know for sure is that I’m going to need a stand. While not exceedingly heavy or thick, at 2.2 pounds and 0.4 inches, the Excite 13 is still a bit awkward and uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time. But, thankfully, Toshiba includes a stand in the box.
The Excite 13 ships with its own stand. Photo: Peter McCollough/Wired
The News Source: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/06/hands-on-toshiba-excite-13/