Android 3.2 Honeycomb
The Toshiba AT200 is an Android-powered tablet. However, it doesn’t use the latest version of the OS. Android Ice Cream Sandwich, version 4.0, is already out and about – having been seen in phones since the Samsung Galaxy Nexus of late 2011. This tablet makes do with Android Honeycomb, version 3.2.
Toshiba has said that the tablet will get an update to Ice Cream Sandwich in time, but no firm release date has been revealed – at the time of writing.
Most of the benefits of this new edition are behind the surface, though – the basic layout remains similar. In Honeycomb, there are homescreens you can fill with a dozen digital clocks, or leave entirely empty. Android Honeycomb does not allow manufacturers to make drastic changes to the interface, and if you’ve used a Honeycomb tab before, the Toshiba AT200 interface will seem very familiar.
Honeycomb splits opinion – some say it’s slick and clean, others that it’s a mess. The Toshiba AT200 will do little to change these stances. We also found it’s ever-so slightly more laggy than some other premium Tegra 2 tablets, in spite of sporting a 1.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP processor.
This laginess is minor, but shows-up regularly, even when flicking through pages of apps or scrolling quickly down a website. We hope this will be fixed with the Ice Cream Sandwich, which reportedly has improved optimisation for Texas Instruments chips.
The Toshiba AT200 has full access too the Google Play app store, previously known as the Android Market. With a dual-core processor and the respectable PowerVR SGX540 GPU, the tablet has the power to play the fancy 3D games that were pushed last year to give earlier Android tablets better gaming cred.
However, benchmarks show that this GPU is not as powerful as the Apple iPad 2’s SoC (let alone the quad-core iPad 3) or the Mali-400, now used by smartphones and tablets. By the latest standards, the Toshiba AT200 is not a super-powerful tablet – evidence that it should have launched at least six months ago.
Viewed from a more real-world perspective, the Toshiba AT200 has everything it needs for current apps, but it’s not terribly future-proof. The 32GB of internal memory is plenty of space for apps galore. But once developers get their teeth into 2012’s quad-core processors, it’ll soon get left out of the latest and greatest app parties.
During testing, we found that the Toshiba AT200 isn’t particularly good at managing the heat its innards produce. It gets warm fairly quickly – even when not pushed particularly hard – and the warmth is not distributed evenly throughout the back panel.
The bottom left part, where your left hand naturally rests when the AT200 is held in landscape, takes the heat hit, and it is more noticeable than in most premium tabs.
Web Browsing and wireless connectivity
Aside from taking a little longer to render web pages than the best, the Toshiba AT200 is a great web browsing tool. The 10.1in screen is luxuriously large, the capacitive touchscreen is highly responsive and the top Gorilla Glass layer feels great under the fingers.
You’ll need to be within reach of a Wi-Fi network to get online, though. There’s no 3G model currently available, but most other types of wireless connectivity are catered-for. You get Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, an accelerometer and compass – the complement expected of a self-respecting £350-plus tablet.