Toshiba AT300 review
By Jim Martin | PC Advisor | Published: 14:59, 06 August 2012
Toshiba's 10.1in AT300 tablet runs the Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system and hopes to undercut Apple's iPad. There are two models: 16GB and 32GB, with the latter costing just £379, a full £100 cheaper than the equivalent new iPad.
We were impressed with the thinness of the AT200, but the AT300 can't match its sibling's 7.7mm chassis. However, at 8.9mm thick, the AT300 is hardly chubby. It feels solid and well-balanced in the hands, and we like its rounded corners and tapered screen edges. At 593g, it's roughly the same weight as an iPad 2, but is considerably heavier than a 7in tablet such as the Nexus 7.
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From the front, it looks like any other generic 10in tablet as there's no Toshiba branding. In fact, apart from the front-facing camera, it's devoid of features.
Around the back is a brushed aluminium panel (which looks as if it's made from plastic) surrounded by a silver textured plastic bezel. As with the AT200, we weren't overly reassured by the chassis' lack of rigidity: it's not nearly as sturdy as the iPad's aluminium casing.
The screen is covered by the same Gorilla Glass used on the iPhone, but again, like the rear panel, it looks and feels like plastic. Given these high-quality materials, it's a shame that the AT300 doesn't look like a premium product.
The AT300 isn't exactly the successor to the AT200 - think of it more as a big brother. Power is delivered by an Nvidia Tegra 3 T30SL quad-core processor, running at 1.3GHz. It's paired with 1GB of DDR3 RAM. Naturally, this combination makes for a slick experience when swiping between Android home screens, and also when playing HD video or the latest 3D games, too.
The screen has 1280 x 800 pixels, which puts it on a par with the highest-resolution Android tablets. It's no match for the iPad's retina screen of course, but let's not forget it's considerably cheaper.
The LED backlight is bright, and viewing angles are reasonable enough. Contrast isn't wonderful, though, with lighter shades of a colour merging together and leading to a lack of highlight detail in images.
What many will appreciate about the AT300 is its ports and connections. The right-hand edge has micro-USB and micro-HDMI outputs so you can connect external storage and a large-screen TV. Interestingly, there's a full size SDHC card slot supporting cards up to 32GB. This means you can pop in a card directly from your camera and share or edit the photos.
There's also 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS, plus stereo speakers integrated into the bottom edge of the device.
A proprietary dock connector and an inability to charge from a spare USB port on your computer mean the AT300 is as awkward as an iPad in this respect.
The front-facing 2Mp camera provides adequate quality for video chats, but you wouldn't want to use it for any serious photography.
At the back is a 5Mp camera with a useful LED flash. Disappointingly, there's considerable shutter lag and the screen isn't really bright enough to use as a viewfinder in sunny conditions.
As the lens isn't what we'd call wide-angle, the AT300 isn't much good for capturing landscapes unless you employ the sweep panorama mode, which produces wonky results unless you have ultra-steady arms.
The quality of both photos and videos from the rear camera is below par. Colours were reasonable, but heavy-handed noise reduction (even in sunny conditions) left a lack of detail which was especially noticeable in textures such as foliage and brickwork.
In GeekBench, the AT300 scored 1575 on average, putting it well above the AT200 which managed 979. Google's Nexus 7 scored 1452, a little slower despite its similar Tegra 3 chip.
Toshiba hasn't added too much to the standard Ice Cream Sandwich Android interface, which is no criticism. We'd sooner have a vanilla operating system than a load of unnecessary bloatware. What you get are media player and file manager apps. There's also a Toshiba Places app where you can buy music, videos and games but it seems somewhat redundant given the Google Play store icon just about it.
In the Settings menu, you'll find options for audio and video enhancement. There's also an eight-day trial version of McAfee Mobile Security.
The AT300's 30Wh battery is claimed to last for 10 hours of video playback, and 12 hours of general use. In our tests with Wi-Fi disabled, the tablet managed just shy of nine hours playing a looped MP4 video with brightness at 50%.
That's respectable, although not the longest we've seen from a tablet. Acer's Ionia Tab A510 managed an extra 30 minutes.