Toshiba Goes Upscale With Excite X10 Tablet

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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.


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