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I've had the Excite for a full day now, and thought I'd post some thoughts. I've owned a number of tablets prior to the Excite, including:
- the original ASUS Transformer (excellent device),
- the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (also excellent, and happily used by my wife),
- the Transformer Prime (an excellent tablet with horrible radio performance and numerous quality control issues), and
- the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" (a nice tablet for $249, but too slow and low resolution to be useful to me).
- the iPad 3 (utterly luscious screen, great performance, but mind-numbingly simple iOS)
So, I have enough experience to have a sense of what makes for a good or bad tablet. Here are some quick thoughts on the Excite:
1. Performance: Excellent. By far the best performer, I think because it's almost completely stock Ice Cream Sandwich and I think Toshiba has done a good job tuning it. The closest Android competitor is the Prime, but that suffered from too many glitches. It's hard to compare performance with the iPad, because although everything is silky smooth on the iPad, iOS just does so much less than Android.
2. Screen: I'm terribly sensitive to screen quality, in particular text and white balance, and the Excite's screen is a real mix. It has decent colors and whites are more white than some, but I think the Toshiba Autobrite brightness and contrast auto-adjust is too aggressive. Sometimes colors are washed out, and I think it's because of the adjustments that are being made. The "power balance" mode, or whatever it's caused, sometimes makes colors look better and sometimes worse, which tells me there's something funky going on. I'm also wondering if the Tegra 3 power-saving contrast features are at play, or maybe that's the foundation of Autobrite.
Whatever, the screen is sometimes very nice, and sometimes not so much. Text isn't very good either, really, although I have to be careful in this particular comparison. The iPad 3's screen has spoiled me, and text on pretty much ANY other screen doesn't compare. Text on my wife's Samsung GT 10.1 is better than on the Excite, but the Samsung is running Honeycomb and I think ICS introduced lower-quality text.
Overall, I'd rate the Excite's screen as the second worst of the tablets I've had so far. Only the Samsung GT 2 7" had a worse screen. However, that doesn't mean it's a terrible screen--it's perfectly serviceable, just not the best. I think some tweaking by Toshiba could make it much better.
Regarding light bleed, I'm returning my first unit because of it and hopefully will receive a better unit tomorrow. If that one's bad as well, I'm not sure what I'll do.
3. Build quality and form factor: The Excite is very thin and light, much more comfortable to hold than the iPad or any other tablet I've owned (except the 7" GT 2). It has no rough edges and in general feels like a quality device.
4. Sound: I'd rate sound as excellent, especially with all of the enhancements turned on. It's nice and loud, and I've heard effects in games that I'd never noticed before with other tablets. Toshiba did a great job here.
5. Wifi and GPS: The Excite is the polar opposite of the Prime, which suffered from terrible Wifi performance and pretty much non-functional GPS. In my home office, which is in the garage and separated from the router by four walls and about 30', the Prime would get about 1Mb/s download, the iPad about 10Mb/s, and the Excite over 20Mb/s. It's incredible how well it performs with an aluminum case. And, I get locks with 13 satellites and 24' accuracy INDOORS, including in the office at work. Very impressive performance from both Wifi and GPS.
6. Extras: I find the haptic feedback options fascinating, even if they do slow things down a bit. I'd turn them off for this reason alone, but they add a nice flair to using the tablet. I'll consider how close to stock ICS the Excite is as an extra, and give some kudos to Toshiba. Hopefully this also means we'll be quick to get updates.
7. Battery life: Forgot to mention battery life, so I'm amending the post. So far, I'm finding battery life to be less than spectacular.The Excite seems to burn battery life faster than other Android tablets, particularly during gaming, and it's definitely not as good as the iPad. It seems to be about the same as the Samsung GT 2 7", which has a smaller battery. I'll have to keep using it for a few more days to get a better sense of how long it will last, but so far it's not looking like a particular strength.
Standby battery life isn't as good as the iPad, but then again that's true for all Android tablets. The Excite uses about 1%/hour on standby, compared to the iPad's less than 1% per half a day. So, the Excite was at 93% when I stopped using it at midnight, and then it was at 86% this morning at 7:00 am. The iPad, on the other hand, was at 91% at midnight, and still at 91% this morning. I've seen Android tablets do better than the Excite on standby, and I've seen them do worse.
Overall, I like the Excite. The light bleed issue is a problem, but hopefully I'll get a better unit. I think that overall it's worth the extra $70 over the ASUS Transformer TF300, because although I give ASUS high marks for trying hard, they just seem unable to duplicate their great performance with the original Transformer. And, the build quality is better, in my opinion. I haven't handled the Acer A510, so I can't compare those two. The Excite is far better than the Prime, for a number of reasons. No current Samsung compares, but the Galaxy Note 10" will probably be an interesting tablet.
Comparing to the iPad, although I much prefer Android over iOS, the iPad's screen is just to die for, and the apps are so, so much better and more plentiful. Because 80% of what I do with a tablet involves reading lots of text, if I had to choose between the Excite and the iPad, I'd choose the latter simply because text on the iPad is like a quality printed magazine. I like to own both, though, because there's quite a bit I like doing on an Android tablet instead.
My rating of the Excite: 7.5/10. Fix the light bleed and tweak the display for more consistent color performance, and I'd move that to 8/10. The iPad would also be at 8/10, because iOS is so limited in terms of overall functionality.