A sit-down with Toshiba and its 10.1-inch Android tablet prototype

Toshiba is looking to get into the Android tablet space in a big way. And by big, we mean 10.1 inches, with Honeycomb (once it's actually available). We sat down with Toshiba at CES in Las Vegas for a walkthrough with the unnamed prototype.

The software was defintely not finished, running Froyo (and with hiccups). But it was the hardware we were really interested in. Join us after the break for a good look.

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The rear of the device is a textured rubber, making it slip-resistant and easier to hold. There's a full-size SD card on board. And you want ports? There's a full-sized USB2.0 port, HDMI and miniUSB. It's got Blueooth, naturally.

There's a dock, and it'll dock in landscape, for those of you who fear the vertical.

The screen is 10.1 inches at a 1280x800 resolution, with a 16:10 aspect ratio, the Wifi-only device is 0.6 inches thick. There are a trio of indicator lights that look like they'd be more at home on a laptop on a tablet, but that was a distinct design decision. They want you to know when Wifi's on. Or when the battery's going to die.

Now Toshiba's been big in the television space for quite some time, and its technology is bleeding over into this tablet as well. Standard-definition video will be "dressed up" in a process they call "resolution plus." It's video upscaling -- on a tablet. And it's pretty striking in person. It'll be turned on by default. Toshiba said there shouldn't be any drop in battery life, but you will have the option to turn it off. We'll see "adaptive" brightness options added in the coming months.

There are a pair of stereo speakers, and "adaptive sound technology" for noise reduction when video chatting. Speaking of which, there's a 2MP camera on the front of the tablet, and 5MP on the back.

So when will we see this? Not before Honeycomb's released to Toshiba. The version we saw was running stock Froyo, and Toshiba made it clear they weren't looking to monkey with the UI, which will make you purists happy, and there will be a file manager. It'll have access to the Android Market, as well as some sort of add-on marketplace from Toshiba.

Toshiba is looking at "mass market retailers" for selling the thing, and discussions with carriers are ongoing.

Phil Nickinson