The Asus Eee Pad Transformer and Toshiba Thrive are the most expandable Android Honeycomb tablets currently on the market. For those of you who are looking to do computer-like tasks and need access to USB flash drives, hard drives and keyboards, both will do the trick. The Thrive has a full size USB port built-in, while the Transformer requires the optional $149 keyboard dock that turns the tablet into a netbook of sorts. With that dock, the Asus has 2 full size USB ports as well as an SD card slot. The Thrive has a full size SD card slot built-in.
Both tablets share the standard Honeycomb 10.1" spec sheet: Android OS 3.1 Honeycomb with Adobe Flash 10.3 support 1GHz Nvidia dual core CPU 1 gig of RAM, available with 16 or 32 gigs storage, and in the case of the Thrive there's an 8 gigs model option. Front and rear cameras with 5MP autofocus rear shooter GPS with Google Maps and Navigation WiFi 802.11b/g/n, no 3G Bluetooth 1280 x 800 capacitive display
Here's our Toshiba Thrive vs. Asus Eee Pad Transformer comparison smackdown video. We compare design, build, screens, expansion including the manufacturers' respective custom file managers for handling all those ports and slots, software bundled and more.
Here are a few comparison points in the written word to help you decide between these two tablets:
1. Display: both run at the same resolution and are capacitive multi-touch. The Transformer has an IPS display, and it's hard to beat IPS for extremely wide viewing angles, sharpness and brightness. The Toshiba Thrive doesn't have IPS, though viewing angles are pretty decent. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer has Gorilla Glass for scratch resistance while the Toshiba has some sort of coating over the glass that you can see at certain angles. Asus Eee Pad Transformer wins.
2. Expandability: This varies depending on whether you want the Transformer's optional keyboard dock that turns it into a 3 lb. notebook/netbook running Android. Without the dock, the Thrive wins since it has a full size USB host port built in, along with a full size vs. mini HDMI port and a full size SD card slot. With the dock the Asus Eee Pad Transformer wins: it has 2 USB ports, a full size SD card slot plus the microSD card slot that's built into the tablet itself. We have to give the point to the Transformer since it's the most inventive, unique and versatile design. Asus Eee Pad Transformer wins.
3. Battery life: Another interesting point since the Toshiba Thrive is currently the only Android Honeycomb tablet with a replaceable, swappable battery. Additional Thrive batteries sell for $80. The Transformer fights back once again with its keyboard dock that has a secondary battery that adds 6 hours of battery life. The Transformer lasts 7 hours vs. 8 hours on the Thrive (just the tablets, no add-ons). The Eee Pad Transformer has a compact charger that's typical for tablets while the Toshiba Thrive has an almost absurd netbook style charger. Still, we'll call it a tie. 4. Performance: These tablets have the same CPU, the same amount of RAM and perform and benchmark similarly. Both are equally capable of playing Adobe Flash, MPEG4 video and 3D games. Tie.
5. Size, weight and looks: Looks are subjective. The Transformer goes for the trendy slim glass and metal look (though the back is plastic). It is thinner and lighter than the Thrive. The Toshiba is a chunky monkey, but that's the tradeoff for all those ports and the replaceable battery. Though I think the Transformer is more attractive, looks are subjective and the Thrive has a rugged cool look. Asus Eee Pad Transformer wins.
In the end, both of these relatively reasonably priced tablets are solid choices for those looking for expandable tablets that can be computer stand-ins. It boils down to form factor: if you want just a slate with as much expansion as possible and full size ports and card slot, the Toshiba Thrive is your tablet. If you want a hyper-expandable tablet with both micro and full size SD card slots and a hybrid slate-notebook design, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer is your pick. Personally, I love the versatility of the Transformer and its keyboard dock, so that's my pick. I also appreciate the full Polaris Office suite vs. the view-only Quickoffice HD on the Thrive (but you can buy a full Office suite for $25 or less on the Android Market). The Eee Pad Transformer can be a tablet and it can be a netbook, and I like the added screen protection of the clamshell design. But for those of you who have no need for the keyboard and trackpad, why carry around a 3 lb. netbook alternative when the 1.7 lb. Toshiba Thrive meets your requirements (just remember the Thrive charger is 9.4 ounces (yet, just over a half pound!).
Very informative and professional review and video. Those are the 2 tablets I was considering. This side by side comparison shed a different perspective on the two and confirmed my gut feeling that the Toshiba offers all in all the best value and features.
Great review but this part doesn't make sense: " But for those of you who have no need for the keyboard and trackpad, why carry around a 3 lb. netbook alternative when the 1.7 lb. Toshiba Thrive meets your requirements (just remember the Thrive charger is 9.4 ounces (yet, just over a half pound!)."
If you don't need the keyboard and trackpad then get the Transformer which by itself is much lighter than the Thrive (1.2 lbs), and the Transformer charger is only 2 ounces compared to the Thrive's 9.4 ounce charger. No comparison.
The only advantage to the Thrive then deceptively seems to be the full-size connections which however are inferior to what the Transformer's keyboard has, but furthermore the typical need for those full size connectors will only happen where you might plug the transformer into to the keyboard anyway (at your desk). Instead, while mobile the only think you're likely going to plug in is only going to be memory, in the form of a microSD slot which is the latest and now the more common form factor for devices ... which form factor the Thrive doesn't support natively.
Since this thread started, Lenovo introduced 2 new tablets, the IdeaPad K1 and the ThinkPad. The later has also full size USB and SD ports, along with many other attractive features. Hope those two are going to be reviewed by Lisa soon.
Here's our Lenovo IdeaPad K1 video review. The ThinkPad tablet isn't out yet, and Lenovo hasn't sent out review units yet. As soon as they do, we'll have a video review, then a written review of it too.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview