June 09, 2012, 7:40 AM — Long before the Toshiba Excite 7.7 got its name, its prospects were cause for excitement. The tablet's beefy Nvidia Tegra 3-powered specs, its slim and lightweight design, its Android 4.02 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and its high-resolution AMOLED display all made it a front-runner challenger on paper.
Now that it's here, I can report that this model fully lives up to its potential. The only disappointment lies with its steep price: $500 for the 16GB version--the same as the larger-screen third-generation iPad costs--and $580 for the 32GB model.
Next to the iPad's pricing, the Toshiba Excite 7.7 (previously seen at Mobile World Congress as the Toshiba AT270) feels astronomically expensive. That said, it comes in priced just 11 percent higher than the next closest competitor, the Verizon Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, which is $450 with a two-year contract. Granted, the Verizon model handles 4G LTE wireless communications, but that tablet is also stuck on last year's Android 3.x Honeycomb operating system. And its dual-core CPU performance is notably slower than that of the Tegra 3-based Excite 7.7.
At least the design of the Excite 7.7 matches its premium price. Aesthetically, it pleases the eye, and it's in keeping with the design of the 10.1-inch and 13.0-inch models in the Excite lineup, sporting a bronze-colored, textured aluminum back with matching plastic edges and well-defined buttons for the volume rocker, power, and rotation-lock slider.
The design is deceptive: Though the Excite 7.7 lacks the contour of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, the two models are of identical depth, 0.31 inch. The Excite 7.7 is slightly larger than the Tab, standing 8.1 inches tall to the Tab's 7.7 inches; and at 12.3 ounces (or 0.77 pound), it's a bit heavier than the Tab, by 3.2 ounces (or 0.2 pound). Interestingly, the Toshiba tablet feels lighter in the hand, probably due to the balance of the components inside.