The weight of the Excite 7.7 is actually one of the more enticing features, as it indicates that LCD-based tablets are starting to approach a weight that's conducive for one-handed operation. The Excite 7.7 is not as featherlight as current E Ink-based e-readers are (some e-readers are half the Excite's weight), but it is notably light when held one-handed--a critical distinction, and advantage, for a smaller tablet like this. After all, many users like to hold their slate one-handed when they're reading, and the Excite 7.7's high-resolution display makes it ideal for that activity.
The high-resolution AMOLED display is another major cause for excitement here. Android tablets have been painfully slow to get on the bandwagon of higher-pixel-density displays, and this model is one of the few to do so. At 1280 by 800 pixels, the display has 196 pixels per inch, not as dense as what the current 9.7-inch iPad has, but far better than what the 1024-by-600 Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 delivers. In my hands-on trials, text looked lovely in ebooks and Web pages, smooth and solidly rendered--and a welcome contrast to the pixelation I've seen on the lower-res competition. The 16:10-aspect-ratio display uses Corning Gorilla Glass and supports ten-finger multitouch, and it was highly responsive when I tried it.
Toshiba says the display is comparable to Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus technology, and I'd have to agree after a side-by-side comparison. Colors looked identical, with similarly high saturation but no oversaturation. The Samsung display was slightly better at handling blacks and whites; Toshiba's screen crushed the blacks and washed out the brightest whites in our grayscale-image test. Beyond that, though, the Toshiba tablet simply excelled at images, producing eye-popping color and reasonably good skin tones. On one of our standard test images, the Excite 7.7 provided one of the better representations we've seen of the skin tones and clothing; it lacked the moiré pattern evident on the Samsung model, though whether this result is due to the difference in operating systems (with the Samsung tablet still on Android 3.x) or something else is unclear. The Excite 7.7 also rendered images sharply, although--as with the other current Android tablets we've seen--images in the Gallery app had fuzzy thumbnails, and needed a moment to render fully when opened.
The last piece of big news about the Excite 7.7 is its Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Tegra 3 is terrific for gaming; on our GL Benchmark tests, the Excite 7.7 performed in line with other Tegra 3 tablets. Games looked great on the display as well.