Movies, music and books
Toshiba Places on the AT300SE is a stab at making media easy to access, though it's not at all about saving money. Music Place is powered by 7digital, which charges for all of its tunes, Video Place is really Acetrax, Games Place offers only four titles (such as Fruit Ninja and Burn the Rope World), Book Place is powered by Txtr, and News Place consists of a live stream of Euronews and a link to magazines on the tablet-centric Zinio platform.
It might serve some users well, but curating content is a tricky concept and we're certain that 'preferred partners' is not the way to do it. There's a whole internet out there...
Book Place is the most visible, with its own Txtr widget installed on the home screen and offering the widest selection of ebooks in Europe. Even if that is so, we weren't impressed; each time we tried to purchase a book by pressing the 'Get this Book' area we were given an 'Unable to connect to the server' message.
However, if you do want a streamlined experience, Toshiba Places has a lot going for it - though do remember that there is no HDMI output, so you can't download a movie via Acetrax to the Toshiba AT300SE to watch it on your TV.
The alternatives are the Play Books, Play Magazines, Play Music and Play Movies apps, all on the Toshiba AT300SE by default. The latter blends the chance to download/stream movies with any of your own, or externally sourced, video you've got on the Toshiba AT300SE - or a microSD card.
In the latter scenario it acts as a nice file manager, and you get the choice to watch video in the default Media Player or Video Player. Any other video apps you download, such as VLC, will appear on the 'Complete action using' option screen.
The Toshiba AT300SE struggles with playback; hamstrung by its 1280 x 800 pixel display, HD video files look soft, grainy and no better than standard definition, with some blur and very average contrast, to boot. If only Toshiba had retained its Resolution+ features on this incarnation.
Sound quality is the usual mixed bag. It's bereft of the SRS-powered goodies on the Toshiba AT300, but Hand in Glove by The Smiths through headphones still features acceptable levels of low frequency and detail as well as effective stereo separation.
But with the integrated 1.5W speakers doing all the work the results took a dive; it's not distorted, but the tinny, weak and weedy sound is none too pleasing.
Apps and games
Toshiba Places is one of 12 apps/shortcuts on the main screen, the others being File Manager, eBay, Office (a double-link to either Splashtop Remote Desktop or PrinterShare), Online Manual, Settings, Browser, ThinkFree Office (a surprisingly comprehensive text editor), Calendar, Talk, YouTube and PlayStore.
A further, and frankly pointless, mod is Toshiba App manager, which is nothing more than a recommendations area containing just two apps; games portal Wildtangent and a second bite for Zinio in the form of its Zinio Reader. Upon our third boot-up of the Toshiba AT300SE we were informed that both of these apps were being downloaded as part of an update, but the app itself then crashed.
As a test we downloaded Angry Birds: Star Wars and Drag Racing from Google Play. Bright, colourful games like these are dealt with easily by the Toshiba AT300SE.