After months of waiting, we've now got four Android 4.0 quad core tablets to choose from. Asus takes two positions with their Eee Pad Transformer Prime (the first to market by many months) and the new Transformer Pad TF300. We've done several comparisons of those tablets with the recently released Acer Iconia Tab A510. Now we're putting the two newest tablets in the non-convertible space head to head: the Iconia Tab A510 and the just released Toshiba Excite 10. Both are pure tablets with no convertible keyboard dock, and they have Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core CPUs with GeForce graphics and 10.1", 1280 x 800 displays.
Both tablets list for $449. Acer scores for giving you 32 gigs of internal storage for the price vs. 16 gigs for the Toshiba Excite 10. Both have SD card slots, so you can make up for the difference in storage capacities with a card. Toshiba gives you a thinner design with Gorilla Glass and a metal casing.
Design and Materials
The Acer Iconia Tab A510 is a nice looking tablet with a soft touch back that we adore. It's comfy and gribbable. But it's thicker than the competition at 0.43" and it's heavier too at 1.54 pounds. Acer does give you a bit battery to fill that extra space, so this is the first time we'll forgive their generally bulkier build. Strangely, the Acer Iconia Tab A510 gets quite hot at one spot on the back when playing games. We wouldn't expect this from a thick tablet with a plastic back.
This is where the Toshiba shines (literally if we're talking about the tablet's bright aluminum back). The Excite 10 goes head to head with the iPad 2 and Asus Transformer Prime. It's one of the thinnest and lightest tablets on the market at 0.35" and 1.33 pounds. The metal casing, extreme attention to detail and Gorilla Glass put it in the premium camp. The Excite 10 keeps its cool when gaming.
Winner: Toshiba Excite 10
Performance and Stability
Both tablets run on Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core CPUs with a companion low power fifth core and GeForce graphics. While the Acer Iconia Tab A510 uses the 1.3GHz T30 CPU with DDR2 RAM, the Toshiba Excite 10 is clocked at 1.2GHz with a gig of DDR3 RAM. In everyday use the Toshiba feels a little bit faster. That's probably due to good OS tuning and the Toshiba's more responsive touch screen more than the CPU difference. In synthetic benchmarks, the Excite 10 is a wee bit faster than the Acer A510, but the numbers aren't enough to declare one a winner. Sunspider scores and GLBenchmark scores are a tie.
We give Toshiba the nod for stability in the Excite 10. It doesn't bog down, crash or show "wait/close" error messages nearly as often as the Ice Cream Sandwich quad core competition. In fact, in a week it hasn't done any of those annoying things. The Acer Iconia Tab A510 is more stable than the Transformer Prime, but we did note it bogged down here and there (a reboot cleared things up), and we got a rare but still there slow down when downloading 10 apps at once from the Google Play Store.
Winner: Tie for performance, Toshiba Excite 10 wins for stability but the A510 is by no means unstable.
Ports, USB Host
We're in a dead heat again: both tablets have robust ports and slots and ergonomic controls. The Excite 10 has a full size SD card slot vs. the microSD card slot on the Iconia A510. Those of you who want to view your digital camera's photos on your tablet will no doubt prefer the full size slot, while the rest will grumble and dig up a microSD card adapter and use a microSD card you'd already bought for a smartphone or tablet.
Both tablets have micro HDMI ports, a rotation lock slider, 3.5mm stereo headset jack and micro USB ports with USB host. Acer includes a micro USB to USB host adapter cable in the box, and we appreciate that because they're hard to find in bricks and mortar stores. They however leave out the standard USB cable that you use to connect your tablet to your computer. This cable is included with most other tablets, but at least it's easy to find in stores and you can use your Android/Windows Phone/BlackBerry smartphone's cable too.
Those of you who want to use high drain USB peripherals or do some serious gaming with a USB game controller will appreciate the Excite 10's design: the charging port is on the bottom and the micro USB port is on the side. The Acer A510 combines the charging and micro USB port into one, so you can't charge while using a USB peripheral.
For USB peripheral drivers, Acer scores a win with their NTFS support. The Toshiba only supports FAT32, and that means no dice with large capacity portable hard drives that are formatted NTFS. Toshiba fights back with their own USB Ethernet driver, so you can use the tablet on wired Ethernet networks. The Acer Iconia Tab A510 doesn't have a USB Ethernet driver.
The Toshiba Excite 10 uses a 5 volt 2.1 amp charger (same capacity as the iPad charger). That means it should be easier to find third party charging solutions and it can charge over USB from your computer (not terribly quickly though). The Acer requires a higher voltage input and doesn't measurably charge over USB.
Winner: This is nearly a tie but we give Toshiba the point for the ability to charge while using the USB port and compatibility with external USB charging solutions.
Big win for the Acer Iconia Tab A510. It has an unusually large 9800 mAh, 36.25 Whr battery vs. the Toshiba Excite 10's standard 2 cell 25 Whr battery that's standard for many Android tablets. We average 2 hours more runtime with the Acer A510.
Winner: Acer Iconia Tab A510
Honestly, you can't go wrong with either tablet, unless you game a lot and don't like your tablet to double as a hand warmer (sorry Acer). I thought long and hard as to which would be my next Android ICS tablet, and I settled on the Toshiba Excite 10, but it wasn't an easy choice.