A good value 10in Android tablet
Toshiba is better known for its TVs and laptops, but the AT300, also known as the Excite in the US, is actually the company's third attempt at a 10in Android tablet. We weren't expecting much so we were pleasantly surprised by its slenderness, low weight of 600g and the dimpled texture of its attractive aluminium rear. It's a bit creakier than we would like, but overall it feels sturdy. Usefully, there's a switch on the side for locking the orientation of the screen.
Despite its low weight Toshiba has managed to squeeze in a full-size SD memory card slot rather than the smaller micro SD slots usually found on tablets. This makes it easier to import photos from a camera. There's also a micro HDMI port for connecting a TV and a micro USB port for transferring files from a computer. Oddly the charger plugs into its own dedicated port rather than into the micro USB port.
The AT300's battery lasted just under seven and a half hours when playing videos which is reasonably good for an Android tablet. However, it can't keep up with the nine hours achieved by the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 never mind the staggering 17 hour battery life of the iPad 3.
The AT300 comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich pre-installed and thankfully Toshiba hasn't mucked around with the interface too much. There are some useful bundled apps such as the Thinkfree Office suite which can edit Microsoft Office files. The video and music playing app can play files stored on a NAS if you have one, although the interface is a bit fussy.
The standard Android keyboard has been replaced with Toshiba's own which makes it easier to type symbols and numbers and makes it easier to switch to layouts for different languages. It's also possible to type by sliding your finger from letter-to-letter instead of tapping each key separately. It sounds odd, but some may prefer this alternative way of typing.
Everything runs smoothly thanks to the fast Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core processor. It coped well with demanding apps such as 3D games, although the Android interface still isn't quite as smooth as the iPad's and the web browser occasionally struggled with complex web pages.
The 10in screen has a resolution of 1,280x800 pixels which is roughly equivalent to the average laptop screen. It's reasonably bright, although compared to other tablets text doesn't look as crisp and images aren't as vivid.
The AT300 is competitively priced at £286 for the 16GB model, although bear in mind the 16GB iPad 2 costs just £43 more. It has a wider selection of apps and longer battery life, but the AT300 has a more built-in ports.
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This Android tablet is a surprisingly good alternative to an iPad.
Slender, lightweight and attractive; Full-size SD card slot; Useful bundled apps; Good value
Battery life could be better
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