OS Android 2.2
Processor 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2
Dimensions 281 x 14 x 181mm
Display size 10.1” (1024 x 600)
Expansion slots microSD card (up to 32GB), standard SIM card
Price: £552 / $599
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Pros: Its large form factor, excellent connectivity options and strong battery stand it in good stead
Cons: Terrible build quality and a screen that isn’t built for mobile use ruin what could have been a solid Android tablet
There’s little doubt that Toshiba planned a full frontal assault on the Apple iPad with its 10.1” Android 2.2-powered Folio 100 tablet. While offering similar dimensions and aesthetics, the Folio undercuts Apple by more than £100, making it both the largest and cheapest fully featured tablet in its niche.
As well as presenting the Folio as a cheaper, large-form-factor alternative, Toshiba has added a few technical tweaks to appeal to customers who might be ill-content with the iPad’s rather lacking connectivity options and video capabilities. For example, the Folio boasts two USB ports (one full-size and one mini), an SDHC memory card slot, a 1.3MP webcam for video chat and a full-sized HDMI port for full 1080p video output to a HDTV. The impressive video capabilities come courtesy of Nvidia’s Tegra 250 Mobile Web Processor which shares the 512MB of DDR2 RAM system memory.
The power of the Tegra processor definitely pulls the Folio ahead of the competition in terms of overall video capability, though the modified video application Toshiba offers is currently rather buggy (the DLNA aspect promising to throw video to a compatible player simply wouldn’t work, for example) so actual performance is yet to live up to the hardware’s promise, which is a real shame.
The USB ports can be used in tandem with Toshiba’s custom-fit file management application to expand storage and share files on the move, which is a massive boon for users who want straightforward access to their multimedia and office documents. The latter is catered for with Dataviz Documents To Go, which can be used to edit files, but the capability to create new documents is only available once the application is purchased.
Elsewhere in the software bundle, Toshiba has included fring for video chat via the user-facing 1.3MP camera, Opera Mobile for web browsing (alongside Toshiba’s own browser – neither of which sadly features pinch and zoom), eBook reading via FBReader, and a Service Station for updates alongside Toshiba’s own custom Market Place. The former is a welcome edition, though the latter is rather sadly underpopulated and makes for a woefully inadequate alternative to the Android Market, which is inexplicably left out of the mix. Yes, this means no Google Maps or Navigation.
These software inadequacies – also including a lack of out-of-the-box Flash support – are worrisome, but determined users can still download most of their software from external sources. Regardless of this, the software shortfalls of the Folio pale in comparison to those of its build quality.
It’s clear Toshiba had to compromise to achieve the Folio 100’s impressive £350 price point, but it has gone too far, utterly hamstringing its tablet in the process. For example, the rear face of the device is made of one the cheapest plastics we’ve ever encountered. Suffice it to say, there’s little hope of the USB and HDMI protective cover lasting the course either. Neither problem is worth a second thought next to the utterly abominable viewing angles on offer, though. For a device that’s designed to be moved around and used in non-traditional circumstances we’re not sure Toshiba could have picked a less suitable panel. Half an inch off dead centre either vertically or horizontally and all decent colour is immediately washed out. Such a shame.
It doesn’t matter that the Folio has one of the longest-lasting batteries in its field (easily capable of a full day’s work with capacity to spare for movies and music). It doesn’t matter either that Toshiba’s software package is one of the more complete on offer or that its Android 2.2 GUI tweaks are fairly usable (when it decides to work properly). With such terrible build quality and a screen that’s next to useless for the mobile segment, we’d suspect that anyone who has a chance to go hands-on before purchase would miraculously find the extra money to buy a Galaxy Tab – or, God forbid, an iPad.