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The company belatedly released its first mini, the NB205. And it was unbelievable. So we were optimistic when the outfit finally got approximately to releasing the Thrive, its first Android tablet for the US market. Surely, we thought, it’s learned a thing or two from everybody else’s mistakes.

And in that regard, at least, this 10-inch tablet doesn’t let down. It has full-sized USB and HDMI ports, an SD card slot and a removable battery all features you’d sooner find on a laptop. It comes with a raft of practical apps already installed, so that you don’t have to go hunt for them in Android Market. It’s one of the first out of the gate with Android 3.1, an undeniably better version of Honeycomb. Oh, and it starts at $429, undercutting many of its competitors. Right there, in less than a section, we’ve laid out why you might want this over any of the other umpteen tabs crowd the market.

If the Thrive were a person, it’d be lament on the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s right about now. Even before it went on sale earlier this month, it was field taunts for being amazing of a fatso. It’s a shame, really, given that most of the bullies have not seen it in person. That’s not to say the Thrive is skinny at .62 inches thick it is, indeed, chunkier than other slates on the market. Why, that’s nearly double the thickness of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, which measures 0.33 inches deep. And at 1.66 pounds, it’s a touch heavier than the first-generation iPad, which has since gone on a diet.

The thing is, it’s not a big deal. In fact, you might even find it feels lighter than you’d expect. Now it’s true, after getting some hands-on time with Sony’s forthcoming S2 slate, we were reminded that the Thrive is heavier than most. Still, it doesn’t feel as dense as the Motorola Xoom, even though the Xoom weighs a whole tenth of a pound less. All told, it’s still light enough that we didn’t think twice about tossing it in our tote bag and walking around with it all day. And when it comes to web surfing on your couch with it propped up against your leg a likely scenario with a WiFi only tablet the Thrive’s plump derriere makes zero difference. If anything, we take issue with the Thrive’s dimensions. At 10.97 x 6.97 inches, it’s about as narrow as other 10-inchers such the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but longer. That doesn’t make a difference in portrait mode, but it does make holding it in landscape that much more unwieldy. The 10.1-inch display crams in 1280 x 800 pixels, matching the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and other identically sized slates.

It’s plenty bright; the viewing angles aren’t chiefly wide. We had an easy time watching a movie with the tablet placed face up on a table in front of us, and we were also able to make out the screen while watching from a skewed position. But as we moved further to the side and try watching from more oblique angles, the difference ratio started looking more severe. As a bonus, Toshiba threw in the same Resolution technology it uses to clean up and chic video on its laptops, but you’ll be hard pressed to notice the dissimilarity on such a small display. If you like, you can disable this feature, though we didn’t feel the need to.

We must have looked pretty silly the first time we tried to remove the back cover. The thing is, it’s much easier to pry the lid off a phone, when you can cradle it, and bear down on the back cover with your thumbs for leverage. Try doing that with a 10-inch tablet and see how far you get. After much fumbling, we figured out the best way to go about this is to first open the door covering all those full-sized ports. Then wedge your fingernail into the crack underneath that compartment, and pull the lid toward you until the whole thing falls away with a disconcerting snap. Once we got past that knowledge curve, remove the lid was a cinch. With any luck, we just spared some of you a bit of aggravation.

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