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Toshiba Goes Upscale With Excite X10 Tablet

1/10/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Toshiba America will expand its tablet
and Ultrabook product lines this week, introducing a
premium-priced tablet and lower-cost ultrabook.

With the experience of the Thrive 7- and 10-inch
tablets under its belt,
Toshiba will roll out the
10-inch Excite X10 possibly
as early as the
first quarter, said Carrie
Cowan, Toshiba’s product
marketing manager,
consumer laptops.

The X10 will take its
place as Toshiba’s flagship
tablet, she said, with a price that is more than $499.

“The X10 is designed to answer the call from our
customers for a thinner, lighter tablet,” Cowan said,
calling the X10 a premium offering.

At 0.3 inches thick, the X10 is almost 50 percent
thinner than the 10-inch Thrive, and it is lighter, at 1.2
pounds, compared with the Thrive’s 1.6 pounds.

One important feature has not yet been finalized:
the operating system.

Cowan said the device may ship with Android Honeycomb
or 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Toshiba would
rather ship the device during the first quarter.

“It’s a hard decision. We want to get this form factor
into the market,” she said.

However, Cowan said if retailers insist on 4.0,
then Toshiba will hold off shipping until it can incorporate
the new operating system. Toshiba’s Thrive
and Excite tablets are over-the-air upgradable, so
they can be updated to 4.0 when it becomes available,
Cowan said.

Toshiba has upgraded the display, now using Corning’s
Gorilla glass, and added an anti-smudge coating
to cut down on fingerprint marks. The chassis is
now made of a magnesium alloy, which is more durable
than the previously used plastic.

Under the hood, Toshiba has switched processor
makers, going with a Texas Instruments OMAP 4430
dual-core 1.2Ghz processor, and dropping the Tegra
2 that is used in the Thrive models, Cowan said.

It will be available in 16GB and 32GB
versions.

Like the older models, the X10 has MicroUSB
and HDMI ports, points Toshiba
feels is important, Cowan said.

Toshiba is taking an opposite approach
with its newest ultrabook, by rolling
out a lower-cost unit priced for the
mainstream consumer.

The new unit will ship under the
company’s consumer Satellite brand,
unlike its initial offering, the Portege
Z830. This model hit stores in November
at a $799 price point.

The Satellite version will come in below
than $699, although Cowan could
not be more exact at press time. It is tentatively
slated to hit stores for the backto-
school selling season.

Cowan said the company is still trying
to fit the new ultrabook into its overall notebook offering.
The device will fall into an odd niche, where
it is more expensive than its current crop
of mainstream notebooks with which it is
bundled, but less than that of the Z830.

Cowan believes consumers looking for an averagepriced
laptop will be attracted to the new Satellite as
it will be about 1 pound lighter than a standard notebook
and offers all the ultrabook bells and whistles.

Some of the changes made on the new ultrabook
include using aluminum for the case, instead of the
Z830 magnesium alloy, offering a hard disk drive option
in addition to the solid-state drive included in the
higher end model, and building it around a larger 14-
inch display. The Z830 uses a 13.3-inch screen.
It will have a full set of USB, HDMI and Ethernet
ports, along with several storage options. Cowan
said both a solid-state drive and conventional hard
drive will be offered. Toshiba is also looking at a hybrid
SSD/HDD option.