Release a 10.1-inch Android Honeycomb tablet. Shrink it. Shave a few dollars off the price and release it. That seems to be the checklist on the desk of every major Android tablet manufacturer (see Samsung and Lenovo), and today Toshiba's thinking along the same lines. The Thrive 7-inch is, well, the original Thrive with a 7-inch display, a much thinner and lighter .88-pound body, and fewer full-sized ports - it's only got Mini HDMI and Mini USB jacks as well as a microSD card now. However, despite the weight loss, it still packs the same specs as its older brother, including a 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of flash storage, and dual cameras (a 5MP rear and a 2MP on the front). However, the standout feature is certainly the 1280 x 800-resolution display. Toshiba didn't cut a single pixel, and considering most of the other 7-inch tablets have been stuck with 1024 x 600-resolution panels it's a strong differentiator. Although, Samsung does have its Tab 7.7 waiting in the wings with a Super AMOLED Plus 1280×800 display.
I got to spend a few minutes with the Thrive earlier today and it's looking more promising than the original, which isn't all that hard to be honest. Sure, its exterior is a dead ringer for the original, but the build quality seems a step above the 10.1-inch version and the high resolution display is a pixel density paradise. Text looked extremely crisp and viewing angles were quite wide, which should make this device a solid ereader supplement. All that said, I continue to be a bit worried about the stability of Android 3.2 on these devices since I did encounter one Force Close in the brief demo time. I was, however, able to successfully launch the Kindle app, which is something the Acer A100 couldn't manage. Either way, Toshiba's got a bit more time to work out the kinks – the tablet won't be available until early December for "under $400." It's a bit of time to wait, but in the interim check out the hands-on video and pictures below.