Look and feel
The Toshiba Excite Pro is strangely hefty despite its plastic build, and doesn’t feel as premium as its price tag suggests. However, it is solidly constructed.
Ease of Use
The Excite Pro’s ten-inch touchscreen is spacious and responsive, and the keyboard dock is handy for typing out emails and docs. The setup isn’t quite as slick as Asus’ Transformer devices, however, and the dock needs to be charged separately and hooked up via Bluetooth.
The keyboard dock is sadly optional rather than bundled, or else it would be a good reason to get the Excite Pro. Still, the HD screen is sharp and bright, and the eight-megapixel camera is one of the better to be found on an Android tablet.
Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 4 processor can play the latest games and handle productivity suites with ease.
You can expect between six and seven hours of use per charge, a better-than-average effort for a ten-inch tablet.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,11/21/2013 2:21:10 PM
Ease of use
Decent battery life;
Bright, sharp HD display;
Asus’ keyboard docks are superior
Now that tablets offer impressive performance coupled with HD visuals and unbeatable portability, laptops have to be looking over their shoulder in terror. And while laptops boast the luxury of a physical keyboard, tablets such as the Asus Transformer Book and now the Toshiba Excite Pro are coming with their own clip-on boards, so you don’t have to deal with fiddly virtual keys.
The Excite Pro essentially converts into a miniature laptop with its optional keyboard case, but at £349 it’s straying dangerously close to Apple iPad territory. So is this powerful Android tablet worth it?
Design: Excite by name...
Let’s start with the actual tablet. This ten-inch device looks like your typical slate, with a black bezel surrounding the screen. At 630g it’s close to 100g heavier than the Asus Transformer Book, and a good chunk heftier than the superbly slender iPad Air. Clutching it one-handed isn’t particularly comfortable, so we found ourselves holding it in both hands and using our thumbs to manipulate the screen.
The plastic rear feels a bit budget considering the cost, but the Excite Pro is at least well put-together. Your mini HDMI, micro USB and micro SD slots are covered by a flap to keep dust and other bits at bay, and there’s a proprietary charging port alongside – you can’t hook this tab up to a PC to charge.
Slot the Excite Pro into the optional keyboard case and not only do you get full protection from drop damage, you also get a handy physical keyboard for bashing out emails and essays. The keyboard actually connects to the tablet via Bluetooth, and needs to be charged up independently (via micro USB), so it’s a less slick solution than the likes of Asus’ Transformer Book T100t, which has a neat slot-in stand that instantly pairs with the tablet. It’s also a slightly wobbly set-up, although some built-in magnets help to keep things together. You can happily prod the tablet’s touchscreen when it’s propped up by the cover, without worrying about the whole lot collapsing.
The optional keyboard cover/stand costs you an extra £71, bringing the total cost up to £427 for the 16GB model. That’s a decent chunk of change more expensive than the Asus Transformer Book T100, which costs just £349 with the keyboard dock. Considering the Transformer Book comes with full Windows 8 and Microsoft Office too, that device is definitely better value for money.
Screen and OS: High-def Android
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is the OS of choice, a little behind the times with 4.3 and 4.4 now available (hopefully the Excite Pro will see a KitKat update soon). Toshiba has mostly left it alone, so you get a traditional Google layout. You can add shortcuts to your favourite apps at the bottom, while the rest of the desktop is populated with more apps and widgets. Our review unit came with a fair few apps pre-installed, including various art/sketch packages and productivity suites such as ThinkFree.
The Excite Pro’s 10.1-inch ‘PixelPure’ screen boasts a 2560 x 1600 resolution, and although it doesn’t quite match the iPad Air for sharpness, it’s crisp enough to take full advantage of HD movies and games. Viewing angles are pleasingly wide, and the panel’s bright enough to counter any irritating glare as well. Our photos looked fantastic with realistic colour reproduction.
Just as HTC’s devices rock Beats Audio, Toshiba tablets come packing stereo Harmon/Kardon stereo speakers on the back. Annoyingly these are placed at the bottom and right at the edges, precisely where we always grip the tablet, which means our palms smother them and dampen the sound. We either had to clutch it in a more awkward manner or upside down to avoid obstruction. Still, there’s no denying that these are powerful tablet speakers, perfect if you’re enjoying some video in the garden or any other private areas without a TV.
Performance: Hot property
Stuck away inside the Pro’s frame is an Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core processor, plus 2GB of RAM. Performance is strong, with apps, games and HD media running perfectly, although we did notice that the back heated up during our video test – thankfully not to an alarming degree.
Toshiba reckons you’ll get 9.5 hours of video playback per charge, but with the brightness turned up we found we could stream movies over Wi-Fi for between six and seven hours in all. However, that’s still a decent effort for a ten-inch tablet, matching the Kobo Arc 10 HD, and enough to keep you occupied on a sizeable journey.
Cameras: Stable shooting
On the rear of the Excite Pro you have an eight-megapixel snapper, one of the sharpest cameras we’ve seen on a tablet recently, complete with a flash for night shots. Settings are basic: you get a panorama and HDR mode and not much more. However, the main thing is picture quality, and the Excite Pro doesn’t disappoint on that front. Our shots for the most part were sharp, with bold colours, whether we were indoors or out.
You can also shoot HD footage with the camera, complete with image stabilisation to keep things as blur-free as possible. For some reason the image zooms in when you swap from camera to video, and there’s no auto-focus as you shoot, which occasionally means your subject will be a little hazy. Despite this, our home movies looked fine and were perfectly serviceable. There’s a good front-facing lens for selfies and video chats.
The Toshiba Excite Pro’s slightly steep price tag makes it a difficult recommend, especially when you factor in the added cost of the keyboard dock, one of its few defining features. Fans of HD movies and games will enjoy the sharp screen and zippy performance, while the above-average battery life keeps you going on those troublesome commutes. However, the Asus Transformer Book offers better value for money, and the Excite Pro isn’t too far off Apple’s iPad Air for cost.