The AT300 has most of the same technical specs as the AT270: a 1.3 GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, 1 GB of RAM, a choice of 16 GB or 32 GB of storage, and Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich. For connectivity it has a micro-USB port to transfer data with, an SD/SDXC memory card slot to increase the storage with, a micro-HDMI output and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. For wireless connectivity it has Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. The AT300 charges via a proprietary connector and has a 2-Megapixel front camera and a 5-Megapixel rear camera with an LED flash.
The 16 GB Wi-Fi version runs for the recommended price of £249, the 32 GB Wi-Fi version for £290 and the 16 GB Wi-Fi/3G version for £309.
Design & Handling
If you're already familiar with the 7.7-inch Toshiba AT270, you may have noticed that the AT300 has the exact same design and cut.
It's slim with a metal back covered in tiny indented dots and the ports (micro-USB, 3.5 mm jack...) are well-integrated into the right edge of the slate. In other words it's an upsized replica of the AT270, but with two exceptions: the SD/SDXC card reader and the micro-HDMI output, also on the right edge.
Of course, Toshiba stuck with the proprietary port on the bottom edge between the speakers. Dear lord, would it be too much to ask for a generic connector? Yes, apparently. The AT300 charges via the home-cooked connector cable only.
But the AT300 is slim enough and dense enough to make it easy and comfortable to handle in any position.
In theory, the IPS display should guarantee a certain level of contrast, fairly accurate colours and ample viewing angles. In reality, unfortunately, this 10.1-inch screen is equal parts impressive and disappointing. It has an average contrast of 853:1, which is common with IPS panels like this. It's a more than respectable ratio, but still lower than the last two iPads, the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, even the Acer Iconia Tab A700.
Where Toshiba really went all out is with the LED backlighting. The brightness goes all the way up to 404 cd/m²—that's one of the highest levels on the market! It provides good readability outdoors, despite the glossy screen.
The colour rendering, on the hand, is far from amazing. The figure we use to measure the difference between the intended colours and the colours displayed onscreen, Delta E, is 8.3, whereas for entirely accurate colours the Delta E would have to be below 3. With a reading like this Toshiba is on the wrong side of the accuracy line, which is too bad because the built-in SD/SDXC card reader would have made it a perfect viewing device for photographers. How can a photog judge pictures properly when the colours are so thoroughly out of whack?
That said, for more basic, everyday viewing the AT300 fits the bill, especially with a steady colour temperature of 6,411 K (no noticeable blue or red overtones), which is mighty close to perfection. And the viewing angles are great, the only exception being when you tilt the slate three-quarters of the way towards the corners... But unless it's some kind of bet, who looks at a tablet from that angle anyway?
The ghosting time (the amount of time it takes for the screen to switch from one individual frame to the next) is 26 milliseconds, which is about average for a bad IPS panel. Resolution+, which you may know from Toshiba TVs, doesn't change this figure at all, but it makes the image appear to move more fluidly by inserting black frames in between ordinary frames. These black frames aren't frequent enough to be perceptible to the naked eye, but they are enough to trick your perception into thinking it's seeing a smooth-moving image.
Let's talk about something that consumers don't often address but that brands know all too well: loss of light. The AT300 is a veritable exodus of backlighting. The concept is simple: when you watch videos in a pitch black room, you can see light coming out of the edges of the screen.
It's even more flagrant when the image is black (although we doubt many users will sit around looking at an all-black screen...). Also, when you grip the tablet with a little force you can see interference in the form of wavelets appear on the surface of the screen. This isn't the first time we've seen this on dense devices like this, such as Archos' 2010/2011 releases. This poses a question: is a slim design necessarily a good design?
Interface & Navigation
The software is exactly the same as the software on the smaller AT270. For a full description of the interface and operating system, please see our Toshiba AT270 review.
Toshiba has made a few homespun additions to the basic Android interface, such as its app store, Toshiba Places, and a stylish media player for photos, music, movies and podcasts, which it can read both locally or via a network.
The AT300 doesn't go as far into the realm of SD card management as Sony does on the Xperia Tablet S, which has a dedicated app for managing content transfers, but files transfer instantaneously, even in large quantities, and all content can be accessed either in Android Gallery or in the Toshiba media player.
The OS runs as adequately as can be. Lags are fairly uncommon, whether it's while navigating through the Android desktops or executing multiple tasks at once. In other words, this is a very responsive tablet. Unfortunately, as we write this Toshiba has made no mention of any Android 4.1 Jelly Bean updates in the coming future...
Web browsing on the Toshiba AT300 is fast and fun. But that's to be expected with an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, which provides quality surfing. So to truly judge the web experience here we have to turn to the screen. The 1280 x 800 resolution provides acceptable legibility, but it's far below many other tablets, such as the latest iPad, the Acer Iconia Tab A700 and the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity. The zoom, a handy tool when in portrait mode with resolution like this, is precise and responsive, but doesn't run as smoothly as the zoom on the Xperia Tablet S.
The dedicated player is what handles most of the multimedia playback. It reads MPEG-4, MP4, 3gp, WMV9, Xvid, DivX, BMP, JPEG, AVI, MKV, MP3, WMA and AAC. It also reads Full HD 1080p movies, but be aware that with files encoded in particularly high quality, the Tegra 3 gets slightly choppy starting at 60 Mbps. The player doesn't have quite as much compatibility as Samsung and Archos' players, but it holds its own. For any other file formats you can always download a third-party app, such as MoboPlayer.
Now for the cameras. The AT300's rear camera is a disaster of the rarest kind. Mediocre at all things and with a flash that makes a point of overexposing every subject in sight, this tablet's camera is one poorly cast actor. The 2-Megapixel front-facing webcam experiences lags here and there, but performs well in low lighting.
While the AT270 never reaches 9 hours of battery life, that isn't the case with the AT300. Toshiba gave a whole bundle of energy to this slate—a slate that can nearly light up a room with its 404 cd/m² brightness. With varied usage (e-mails, games, movies, Internet...) the AT300 lasts 9 hours and 15 minutes, on average. However, with solid movie-watching this figure drops dramatically, especially in 1080p, to no more than 7 hours. Okay, maybe that's not catastrophic, but it's far less than many of the AT300's competitors, such as the Acer Iconia Tab A510 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. The AT300 takes less than 3 hours to charge, which it does solely via the proprietary port and cable.
- Thin and light
- SD/SDXC memory card slot
- Multimedia and gaming capabilities with the Tegra 3
- Light leaks on the screen
- So-so screen rendering
- Proprietary port for charging
- Mediocre camera sensor
- Battery life
The Toshiba AT300 is a great tablet in some aspects, such as design and performance. But there are also a few issues with the finishing that seem out of place coming from a brand like Toshiba. On the upside, the Tegra 3 is tried and proven, and the highly practical (and ever-rare) SD/SDXC memory card reader should make at least a few people happy.