Unlike its predecessor, the AT100, the Honeycomb-based AT1S0 from Toshiba doesn't have full-sized ports, on account of being a smaller, 7-inch tablet. Instead, you get microSD, mini-USB and micro HDMI, all hidden under a vexingly long rubber flap.
There's a headphone jack at the top left, a power button, a volume locker and a button lock, and that's the sum of its physical parts — well, aside from one of the biggest power connectors we've seen in recent years. The rest of the magic hides behind the touchscreen.
It's quite a thick device — at 12mm and not very tapered, there's even some 10-inch tablets that are thinner. Its thickness leads you to want to hold it in portrait more than landscape, and while its 399g weight is low for the category, it feels like it could stand to lose even more weight before things become completely comfortable.
The screen retains the 1280x800 resolution of its bigger brother, meaning better pixel density. The screen quality is much better too, with the yellow cast we found on the AT100 gone and better viewing angles. The display is a little too cool, colour temperature-wise, but not enough to disturb most users.
Also like the 10-inch Toshiba tablet, the 7-inch contains a Tegra 2 processor, and has haptic feedback for both the menu buttons and the keyboard. Toshiba has chosen to incorporate Swype as its keyboard of choice, and while it may be a godsend on smaller-screened mobile phones, it feels slightly awkward on a bigger screen as the sheer size of the screen means you'll be more likely to trace a path with your index finger than your thumb.
Where it differs is storage — unlike its bigger brother, it contains only 8GB of flash memory instead of 16.
Applications-wise, Toshiba has bundled in ThinkFree Office, Evernote, Norton Security TuneWiki and Amazon's Kindle app, along with its own "Service Station" (for system updates), file manager and media player.
Toshiba has made a few interesting choices with the charging cable. Like many, it's split into two parts: a power adapter and USB cable, the latter terminating in a proprietary plug. Or in this case, a large proprietary plug, with a thick cable that doesn't even carry data.
Yep, plug this into a PC and while it will charge (a bonus not often afforded tablet users), you won't get access to the storage on the device. For that, you'll need to bring your own mini-USB cable, a tragic oversight on behalf of Toshiba.
Playing back a 720p H.264 encoded video, the Tablet AT1S0 lasted around 4.5 hours, about half that of the Galaxy Tab 7.7, despite being markedly thicker. In saying that, the Tab's battery life is freakishly long, and costs a goodly amount more — AU$549 compared to the AT1S0's AU$449 (although it's worth noting at the time of writing, JB Hi-Fi is selling the tablet for AU$348). General performance on the Toshiba is actually smoother than the Samsung — thanks to Samsung's highly non-optimised and laggy Touchwiz theme.
Ultimately, the Tablet AT1S0 may end up in a few homes, most likely thanks to its port options compared to the Samsung's single proprietary plug. It's certainly low on the lust-factor that's required for such a luxury category, and for AU$100 you could have twice the battery life and a hugely superior screen in the Galaxy Tab 7.7. For now, we're still waiting for that perfect 7-inch tablet.