“Excite” is right. As we said when reviewing the Excite 10 earlier this year, Toshiba’s sleek-looking Excite slates are undoubtedly a huge improvement over the company’s previous tablets, the thick, bulky Thrives. The Excite models are thinner, much more stylish, and lighter than their Thrive predecessors were. They’re loaded with high-end features and connectivity options, and they’re much more comfortable to hold and use, too.
Plus, with the Excites, Toshiba now has the screen-size gamut for Android tablets covered over a wider range than any other maker. (The company now offers slates in sizes from the 7.7-inch-screened model we’re looking at here all the way up to the unique Excite 13, which has a 13-inch wide-screen display, great for movie-watching.) We just got our hands on the Japanese electronic giant’s Excite 7.7, which is essentially a smaller version of the Excite 10.
As we’ve seen throughout our travels up and down the Excite line, these slates are designed and priced as premium tablets. When we wrote this, though, the pricing for this model seemed flat-out out of whack. With a $499.99 list price, this small slate costs more than its larger 10.1-inch sibling, which lists for $449.99. (Plus, in mid-August 2012, we saw the Excite 10 at some online outlets for as low as $389.99, while the Excite 7.7 was still widely sold for about $475.) Smaller-screen slates tend to sell for much less than their full-size counterparts, which left us scratching our heads over this model’s bloated price tag. That’s especially true in light of the debut of the $199 Google Nexus 7 by Asus.
Like the Excite 10, this 7.7-inch model has a lot going for it, but it’s far from perfect. We found ourselves sorely disappointed with its two cameras, both of which delivered substandard imaging. Its sound reproduction capabilities were subpar, too, which is a shame, because combined with this slate’s vibrant, high-resolution screen, a good sound system would have made this a great tablet for watching movies.
On the other hand, the Excite 7.7 performed well on our suite of benchmark tests, including our demanding battery-rundown trial. Its battery longevity placed it well within the top 10 percent of all Android slates we’ve tested. Also, it runs on the top tablet processor of the moment, the fast and power-efficient Tegra 3 quad-core, which we can’t say about its closest competitor, Samsung’s similarly pricey Galaxy Tab 7.7, which is built around a dual-core CPU. In addition, the Excite 7.7 comes with the 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich,” or ICS) version of the Android operating system, where, conversely, the 7.7-inch Galaxy Tab uses the 2011-vintage Android 3.2 “Honeycomb” version.
The $499 version of the Excite 7.7 that we looked at comes with 16GB of onboard storage, and Toshiba also offers a 32GB version for $579. Considering that the 32GB version of the full-size Excite 10 lists for $529, we think that $579 is way too much to pay for the higher-capacity 7.7-inch model, too.
So, clearly, we have some reservations about the Excite 7.7. Otherwise, though, we liked this tablet: It’s nice-looking; it feels great in your hands; and it displays photos, movies, and graphics superbly. The quad-core CPU performs well, too, giving it some future-proofing. The subpar sound system is a huge drawback, though, and $500 is far too much to pay for what you get, overall. We’d like it a lot more it if it cost a couple of hundred dollars less.
Read the full review at Computer Shopper.