Toshiba announced its back-to-school tablet lineup today, adding three models to its Excite brand. The first one you'll notice is the Excite 13, which you can hardly avoid — its 13.3-inch display is absolutely enormous, nearly twice the size of a 7-inch slate. Toshiba's customer research found that most tablet owners never took their tablets out of their home, so the company sacrificed some portability in favor of a sharing-friendly gigantic screen.
Like the also-new Excite 7.7 and Excite 10, the Excite 13 runs Android 4.0 under a Gorilla Glass display, and is powered by a quad-core Tegra 3 processor. Each tablet has a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel front shooter, along with stereo speakers, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. The 13.3-inch display on the Excite 13 is a 1600 x 900 backlit LED; the Excite 10 has a 1280 x 800, 10.1-inch screen; and the 7.7-inch model has a gorgeous AMOLED display much like the one we loved in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. All promise at least 10 hours of battery life, and both the 10 and 13 claim you'll get 13 hours of use.
We got to spend some time with the tablets, and they're a huge improvement from Toshiba's previous offerings. They're far slimmer and lighter than the Thrive models, though they still offer some of the same ports — there's a full-size SD card slot in both larger models — and all feel much more high-quality than the Excite 10 LE, which will remain on sale as the "premium" member of the lineup, despite our feelings when we reviewed the product. All are slim and solid, and Ice Cream Sandwich seems to run fluidly. The Excite 13.3 was the most interesting, and the most confounding; its 16:9 aspect ratio makes it comically tall in portrait mode, but the screen looked great for watching movies or playing games. It doesn't have the antenna we saw demonstrated, so we're guessing that feature was cut somewhere along the way. The other models were usable and nice to hold, but unremarkable in the hand or in use. Whether any of the models are good enough to overtake the Transformer Prime or Galaxy Tab remains to be seen, but they're certainly a leap ahead for Toshiba's tablet offerings.
The Excite 10 will be on sale May 6th, beginning at $449.99 for 16GB of internal storage. The Excite 13 and Excite 7.7 will be out June 10th, starting at $649.99 and $499.99, respectively.