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The rubber meets the road when it comes to everyday usability for the Toshiba AT100. And by rubber, we mean that the hard backing case, which is interchangeable with other colours, does add some novelty. There's something refreshing about being able to take the cover off and inspect the internal hardware.
Still, the Toshiba AT100 is just too heavy, too thick, and too big overall. It feels a bit like a tablet PC from yesteryear. You never feel like it's a gadget you want to grab in a moment and use on the sofa, and that is perhaps its ultimate death knell.
Tablets such as the Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 afford an immediacy of media consumption and quick browsing sessions on a whim. Given the choice between a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Toshiba AT100 at home, we ended up grabbing the Samsung most of the time.
Another issue is the buttons and port covers. The power button is almost flush with the top of the tablet, which means it's hard to find unless you look around. On the side, there's a button that locks the back cover, but some new users might mistake it for a screen lock button (which is on top). The port cover is annoying because it dangles to the side when you connect a USB key, HDMI cable or micro USB.
The cover felt rigid enough that it probably won't snap off over time.
That said, some users will appreciate the bulky size if it means having easy access to the USB and HDMI ports. We tested an HDMI connection to a Sony HD TV using an extra-long cable, and sat back to play YouTube videos and games on a 55-inch screen. In that setting, the 725g weight wasn't that noticeable.
Toshiba also uses a fast-charge technology for the AT100, which lasts about 11 hours.
The tablet boots up in 30 seconds, which is an eternal age when you just want to use Google Talk. The tablet shuts down in about 10 seconds. The half-second wake time from sleep is quite quick.
The screen's shiny finish means you may experience some eye strain using the device for long periods, while the rich colour quality of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 means long sessions are less headache-inducing than those on the dull Toshiba AT100.
John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.
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