Toshiba is hoping its new Android-based Thrive tablet will help reverse a decline in its PC sales due to the widespread popularity of Apple's iPad 2. According to Gartner, Toshiba and Acer were the only PC makers among the top vendors worldwide to record negative growth in the second quarter.
With consumer interest shifting from netbooks to media tablets -- especially Apple's iPad 2 -- Toshiba's PC sales declined 1.9 percent compared to a year earlier, while Acer's shipments dropped 20.4 percent. The bottom line is that tablet sales are affecting the PC market, noted Mika Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner.
"After strong growth in shipments of consumer PCs for four years, driven by strong demand for mini-notebooks and low-priced consumer notebooks, the market is shifting," she said. "Some consumers now delay replacing their existing PCs to save money for media tablets."
The Time Is Right
The market segment in which Toshiba hopes to see the Thrive gain traction is where consumers are looking for secondary computing devices that are more convenient to use at home. "This part of the market is now taken over by media tablets because the additional device could be any [computing platform supporting] basic consumer activities such as web browsing and video viewing," Kitagawa said.
The Toshiba Thrive, available from U.S. retailers at price points of $429 (8GB), $479 (16GB), and $579 (32GB), is squarely aimed at price-conscious Americans.
"The time is right for well-established PC manufacturers to deliver devices that are competitively priced but aren't burdened with the often unnecessary and unwanted expense of a 3G data plan," said IDC Vice President Bob O'Donnell. "In a world of multiple devices per person, these tablets serve as a great complement to a consumer's computing and other mobile-connected devices."
Sporting a 10.1-inch high-definition touchscreen offering 1280x800 resolution, the Thrive integrates Nvidia's one-gigahertz Tegra 2 dual-core mobile processor as well as a front-facing two-megapixel webcam and a rear-facing five-megapixel camera. Moreover, the device's slip-resistant, rubberized surface is comfortable to hold and comes in five colors -- blue, raspberry, lavender, silver and green.
Toshiba's adaptive display technology automatically adjusts the screen's brightness and contrast to surrounding light conditions. What's more, the device's stereo speakers are empowered by sound-enhancement technologies from Toshiba and SRS Labs. Additionally, the Thrive features a removable battery pack, which gives consumers the ability to switch to a fully charged six-cell lithium-ion battery on the fly.
To enable fast and smooth 360-degree screen rotation and control, the Thrive integrates a gyroscope and accelerometer. Connectivity options include USB 2.0 and mini-USB ports, an SD card slot, and an HDMI port for connecting to external projectors and displays.
Besides the Google software offerings available to all Android devices, the Thrive ships with Swype technology for typing more easily on the virtual on-screen keyboard. The tablet also ships with pre-loaded applications that make it easier for users to manage files as well as connect to a printer over a wireless network.
An optional Toshiba Multi-Dock priced at $59.99 includes a full-size HDMI port for connecting an HDTV or LCD monitor, and two USB 2.0 ports for connecting an external keyboard or hard drive. Also on tap for $39.99 is the optional Toshiba Standard Dock for adding a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard.