The Toshiba AT270 boasts an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, all glassed under a 7.7-inch AMOLED display with 1280 x 800 resolution. Other than the screen technology, the rest of these specs are a carbon copy of the Google/Asus Nexus 7. But Toshiba has upped the ante by adding a microSD slot to increase the storage by up to 32 GB. Toshiba also gave it a proprietary port for charging and relaying video another screen (adapter not included, of course).
There's also a MicroUSB port for transferring data and content and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. The AT270 comes with Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich. As of today, nothing has filtered through about any planned 4.1 Jelly Bean update.
The Toshiba AT270 runs for around £450.
Design & Handling
The thin and stylish AT270 is unlikely to leave many people indifferent. Toshiba has successfully integrated all the elements of a Tegra 3 tablet with a photo/video sensor and reaped all the benefits of AMOLED technology to produce a thin, light, compact and tasteful device.
This is an extremely nice tablet to hold—more so than most. The thin body and the feel of the back with its multitude of teeny tiny bumps have a lot to do with this. The only drawback is that it isn't necessarily easy to hold in portrait mode.
The AT270 must be the widest 7.7-inch tablet on the planet. And Toshiba unfortunately decided to follow the tradition of brands who put the speakers on the back side of the slate.
We have to say we were let down to see the proprietary port on the bottom edge. Its corresponding connector cable is the only way to charge the tablet, so you can forget about using the MicroUSB port for charging.
The beautiful, thin screen has all the dazzling colours and deep blacks you expect out of an AMOLED display. There's a serious tendency towards blue, though, which you can especially see in images that contain mostly whites and greys. This is the one ailment of AMOLED screens—most, if not all, AMOLED displays we have seen show this flaw.
And according to our sensor, too, this is quite the screen. We'd might as well skip over the contrast, because being AMOLED we already know it's infinite. With lightly coloured images the brightness maxes out at 152 cd/m² so as not to ruin the battery or your eyes (remember, there's no backlighting in OLED displays). But when the image contains both light and dark colours the brightness goes up to 287 cd/m², naturally making the whites and other bright colours stand out all the more. The AT270 is brighter on average than its Samsung rival.
These are some of the least erratic colours for an AMOLED screen. The average Delta E is 6.1 (Delta E measures the deviation between the intended colours and the colours displayed onscreen, where the closer to zero the better). That's huge compared to the iPad's 2.2, but better than the Galaxy Tab 7.7's average of 7. It gives good greys, blacks, reds, yellows, cyans and magentas and on the whole it gives more balanced colouring than most AMOLED screens.
The colour temperature averages out at 7,175 K with a few variations in the upper spectrum, hence the overly emphasised blues noticeable in light tones.
The AT270 is near-perfect when it comes to viewing angles and ghosting. There's no notable loss in quality when you switch viewing angles and the ghosting is a mere 3 ms. Unlike Samsung who uses progressive scanning, here Toshiba used a continuous scan that's even more effective. Every three scans (a fraction of a second), the image progresses and even in slow motion the scans are quick, practically immediate. And to improve the overall result even further you can always select Resolution+ mode, which you may already know from Toshiba TVs.
Outdoors or under direct light, when you have the tablet on maximum brightness the screen is for the most part very easy to read. Toshiba succeeded in giving its tablet a very good screen, one of the best of its kind.
Interface & Navigation
Beyond the whole fireworks-in-your-face aspect of the screen, Toshiba added a few things to Android 4.0.3 to enhance it. For one thing, they included a pro account for ThinkOffice, an app that enables you to read and edit text documents, spreadsheets, presentations and the like.
There's also Toshiba Places, an app for managing content that allows you, for instance, to start watching a movie on a TV that's also logged in to Places, stop the movie and then continue watching it on your tablet. Toshiba Places also gives access to exclusive services and application, such as phone directories and secured online payments.
Another excellent morsel from Toshiba's vision of Android is the media player. The whole science-fictiony feel with the cold blue shapes and colours is sort of a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing, but inside you can find a reader for photos, music, videos and podcasts, whether the content is stored on the tablet or on a network. Other than a couple of seconds of choppiness the first time we used it, we had no problems at all with the player. It works well with each medium.
Naturally, being an Android device, the AT270 comes with Google+, Gmail and Gtalk apps.
The AT270 is responsive, but not perfect. It's tough to make a comparison with the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Nexus 7, because they run different versions of Android—respectively, 3.2 plus Samsung's TouchWiz overlay and 4.1 Jelly Bean. But if we were to do it anyway (it's Friday, let's be crazy), Toshiba's slate is more reactive than the Galaxy Tab and a bit more testy than the fast and docile Nexus 7.
The 1280 x 800 resolution makes web pages and text clear and legible in both landscape and portrait mode. Certain poorly managed colours can look flashy at times (a web design or banner...), but you quickly grow accustomed to the "lively" look. The zoom function, which you do need to use sometimes in portrait mode, does its job smoothly and precisely.
The processor's a Tegra 3, so needless to say video games are totally awesome and you can get optimised versions and exclusive games on TegraZone. In games like Shadowgun, Galaxy on Fire or even Horn, textures and lights are much richer than usual. Particularly demanding parts of particularly demanding games can get just a tiny bit choppy, but not enough to be a deal-breaker.
The headphone signal is terrible. Generally speaking it just doesn't reproduce the sound correctly, plus a good deal of the stereo image gets lost along the way (a sign that the circuit wire wasn't correctly shielded, suggesting careless manufacturing). The volume is just average, but should be enough for most portable headphones.
Some users apparently find tablet cameras useful, so just know that on the AT270 everything camera-related is more approximate than precise: there are huge overtones of red, there isn't necessarily all the detail there could be, and, most importantly, the LED flash needs work because it doesn't always flash on time. Then the tablet, thinking it did flash on time, adjusts the white balance as though it had. And what you're left with is an almost pitch-black image. It only happens sometimes, but sometimes is too often!
We were pleasantly surprised to find a battery life of just over nine hours when we tested the Galaxy Tab 7.7, making the Tab a truly portable device that could be carried around without begging for more juice.
Unfortunately, Toshiba didn't get as long as its Korean rival. But it did get a little over eight hours out of its slate. With varied usage (e-mails, movies, video games, surfing...) the AT270 will last on average fifteen to twenty minutes longer than with non-stop movie watching. That's respectable, but lower than most of the big guys. The battery takes from 2 hours and 40 minutes to 3 hours and 15 minutes to charge.
- Overall image quality from the AMOLED screen
- Thin, light, elegant design
- Great media player
- TegraZone and its optimised games
- Proprietary port for charging and video output
- Battery life
- Second-rate camera sensor
- Choppiness in the OS
- Speaker location
The AT270 is a highly capable device with a wow-factor screen and an effective Tegra 3 processor, all held in a slick and compact design. The only problem is that it competes directly with the Google/Asus Nexus 7, which is practically the same thing for £200 less. But if the price doesn't scare you off, you'll have the added benefit of expandable memory and a mediocre, yet rear-facing, camera.