Review : Toshiba Regza AT200 (Dual-core Processor 1GHz; 10.1-inch display)

The good:

Thinnest and lightest 10.1-inch tablet; HDMI, micro-USB and microSD memory expansion.

The bad: Average screen; thin-sounding speakers; construction quality looks better than it feels; large proprietary charger.

The bottom line: The Toshiba Regza AT200 sets a new design standard for thin-and-light 10-inch tablets, but the specs don’t live up to the name.

Review:

You can rarely go wrong by making a product thinner and lighter. Toshiba, a company whose first foray into Android tablets was a relative behemoth, is showing the world that its designers can do “thin” better than anyone. Yes, even better than Apple.

Priced at US$530 with 16GB of storage, or US$600 for 32GB, Toshiba evidently feels that its tablet’s iPad-besting thickness and weight deserve a slightly higher price than the competition. The Regza AT200 (also known as the Excite 10 LE in the US) was selling in Singapore at the recent IT Show at S$849 for the Wi-Fi 32GB version.

Editors’ note:

This review is based on tests done by our sister site CNET.com. As such, please note that there may be slight differences in the testing procedure and ratings system. For more information on the actual tests conducted on the product, please inquire directly at the site where the article was originally published. References made to some of the other products in this review may not be available or applicable in Asia. Please check directly with your local distributor for details.

Design

The Regza AT200 feels impossibly thin and light. After a week handling the new iPad(662g), the 535g Regza AT200 feels like it’s in a different weight class. The difference may sound insignificant, but for a device that’s often held for long periods in one hand, it’s a difference you can feel. It’s also a difference you can see, as the Regza measures just 7.7mm thick. If most 10-inch tablets feel like a cutting board, this one feels like a knife.For some, having the thinnest, lightest 10-inch tablet money can buy is enough to justify the US$530 investment. If that doesn’t describe you, then there are a number of design disappointments here to scare you off.

The first design feature that threw me was Toshiba’s big honkin’ charging adapter. It connects to the Regza using a proprietary dock connection on the bottom edge of the tablet, and terminates in a standard USB plug that can be used with an included charging block. Granted, Apple pulls the same stunt with the iPad, but you can probably find a replacement cable for that in even the darkest corners of the world. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 is also guilty of this crime against universal charging standards, but at least its adapter will fit easily in your pocket. For what it’s worth, you can charge the tablet over its micro-USB connection, but it takes much longer.


The charger for the Regza is thicker than the tablet itself. (Credit: Donald Bell/CNET)

Our other gripe about the Regza’s design is a seemingly petty thing, but it’s something you’ll feel every time you’ll pick it up. The back of the Regza is covered in a thin sheet of brushed magnesium alloy. Aside from the fact that this light, soft metal feels an awful lot like plastic, we have no problem with it. The issue is that it butts up against the rough edge of the tablet’s plastic siding precisely where you naturally hold the device. It’s like the prickly edge of a shirt tag that can’t be ignored. For a device that sells on the strength of its premium design, it’s a detail that should have been taken care of.

Toshiba Regza AT200 Apple iPad (2012) Asus Transformer Prime Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Weight in grams 535 652 586 560
Width in mm (landscape) 256 241.2 263 256.5
Height in mm 176 185.7 180.8 175.3
Depth in mm 7.7 9.4 8.3 8.6
Size bezel width in mm (landscape) 19.1 22.1 20.3 20.3

Features

Given the Regza’s price and the context of other 10-inch Android tablets on the market or on the horizon, Toshiba’s tablet isn’t offering the best value. The honor of having the most cutting-edge processor goes to Asus and the quad-core Tegra 3 chip inside its Transformer Prime.

The Regza AT200 is also trailing behind on having the most up-to-date Android OS. It’s running Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), which is a fine OS, but doesn’t have the same new-car smell as Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Toshiba is promising a spring update to ICS, but you won’t have it out of the box. In my experience, the differences between Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich are negligible, but it’s nonetheless a measuring stick worth considering.

In terms of hardware, Toshiba includes an impressive array of ports and capabilities considering its slender profile. On the left edge, you get a micro-USB port for transferring media and (slowly) charging, along with a headphone output, microSD memory slot, and micro-HDMI video output.


There are many ports available on the Regza AT200. (Credit: Donald Bell/CNET)

The tablet’s 1,280 x 800-pixel IPS display supports 10-finger multitouch and is made from durable Corning Gorilla Glass. Up close, you can make out a unique scaly grid of touch sensors coating the glass, but they’re only visible when the screen is put to sleep or displaying dark backgrounds.

You get cameras on the front and back: A 5-megapixel rear camera with 720p video recording, and a 2-megapixel camera on the front. Neither of them is particularly great, and several people we handed the tablet to mistook the front camera (circled in chrome) for a home button.

Expected features such as GPS, Bluetooth audio and peripheral support, and integrated speakers are all here. Toshiba spent a little extra to polish up the audio performance with an SRS enhancement setting, but the actual audio experience from the speakers still sounds thin in spite of it.

Performance And Battery Life

Overall, display quality is pretty good, though not as bright or as crisp as on the new iPad, and lacking the contrast of a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Asus Transformer Prime. Screen responsiveness is also in the middle of the pack, showing some scroll lag when browsing Web pages and occasionally requiring a few jabs before registering input near the corners (where Android keeps many of its navigation and menu controls).

Toshiba rates the Regza AT200’s battery life at 8.5 hours. CNET Labs clocked a solid 8 hours of continuous video playback. If you tend to run your screen close to full brightness, expect the battery life to take a hit. With Apple’s new iPad out there offering twice the screen resolution while still nailing a 10-hour battery life, the Regza’s unexceptional battery rating and average display quality are a hard sell at US$530.

Conclusion

It’s tough to stand out in the world of Android tablets. With a new slate running the same Android software with more or less the same specs being pitched to consumers every few weeks, only the unique survive. Some manage to get noticed with a low price tag. Some will contort for your attention. Some are fast. And some, like the Toshiba Regza AT200, will try to entice you with a slender supermodel physique. Does thin matter? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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