UPDATE: For a video look at Toshiba’s new AT200, click here.
Although Toshiba’s AT100 was on show at Berlin’s IFA, it was a prototype of the 10.1in AT200 that was the main tablet attraction of Toshiba’s booth.
Large queues came to see the company’s auto stereoscopic ‘glasses-free’ 3DTVs, which could be the future of things to come in tablet-form, too – but only if Toshiba can make its tablet division a success. And the AT200, which was kept chained to a table, though perfectly possible to demo, in another corner of the stand, is its best hope yet.
After the flop of the company’s Folio 100 tablet and much-delayed launch of the AT100, can the AT200 (dubbed, respectively, the ‘Thrive’ and ‘Excite’ in North America) save its reputation among a tablet-hungry public? Possibly – though that will depend so much on the price point Toshiba thinks it can get away with; to our eyes this tablet appeared to bring nothing new in terms of form factor or features, with a less than inspiring rugged metallic look to the back.
But if there’s little new in terms of features, what was striking was its stunningly slim depth. This was noticeable when we held it, even though it was hard to judge weight – the prototype we played with was partly chained-down to stop the German crowds from performing the wrong kind of swipe on the AT200.
We wouldn’t blame them; the AT200 will runs the latest Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ OS, though that only applies to the WiFi + 3G version – a slightly lighter (at 558g) WiFi model will initially be available that runs 2.2. All versions will pack a 64GB capacity, with a microSD card expansion slot also available.
Physically it’s on the money. A 5-megapixel camera adorns the back, joined by a 2-megapixel shooter on the front for video calls. Unfortunately we weren’t able to peek at its inputs and outputs because of the protective casing around the bezel, but Toshiba assured us that the finished models will have a micro USB slot and even a mini-HDMI output for routing hi-def video and audio into a HDTV.
To judge the sound quality in a busy hall would be stupid, but we should point out that Toshiba was making a fuss over its Adaptive Sound Device Enhancer tech, which is designed to boost the quality of MP3s and movies. Our biggest worry is the screen; it’s a TFT LCD panel measuring 1280×800 pixels – Samsung won’t be quaking at that resolution.
Toshiba maintains that it’s using a 1.2GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 processor (as well as 1GB RAM) after some hefty testing procedures against rival tablet – the sample we got to play with was actually displaying a spreadsheet showing how darn fast the AT200 is in comparison to the Xoom, iPad 1 and iPad 2, among others.
Price is everything
Toshiba’s AT200 tablet is all about slimness, but with a vanilla feel to the package as a whole – and particularly the screen – it’s going to take a reasonably low price to tempt tablet buyers away from the iPad 2 or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range. Practically speaking, though, the AT200 has all the necessary specs to compete, and performed well in our demo.