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April 10th 2012 6:52 pm

Toshiba's Product Refresh: Design Hits & Misses

Toshiba announced a slew of refreshes and new products today. The Japanese manufacturer refreshed its entire line of mainstream Satellite laptops, ditched the clunky Thrive Android tablets in favor of a whole new line of thin Excite tablets, refreshed its Qosmio gaming laptop, and redesigned its LX series of all-in-one desktops. It's certainly been a busy day for both Toshiba, and the product team here at gdgt.

Let's take a closer look at each of these new designs though. The higher-grade Satellite laptops, that is, the P and S series are a big step forward for Toshiba. For one, they're aluminum, a build material the company has largely avoided (ultrabook notwithstanding). Toshiba generally has well-built and reliable computers. Adding aluminum to the mix should bolster these traditional Toshiba strengths. The designs aren't as attractive as something like HP's Envy line, or Samsung's 7 Series, but they aren't in the same price range anyway. The chiclet-style keyboards look comfortable aside from one concern, the space bar is tiny.

As far as tablets are concerned, it's generally difficult for me to drum up any excitement for Android at 7-inches or above. That said, the Excite line is roughly 1,000 times more attractive than the Thrive series. Thin, light, and made of metal, the trio announced today are easily the most attractive Android tablets that I've seen. If the performance issues that plagued the first Excite are ironed out, Asus and Samsung should worry about Toshiba eating their portion of an already small pie.

Interestingly, there's a 13-inch Excite in the mix. While I'm not sure anyone is convinced of the necessity of a 13-incher, it was only a matter of time before someone tried it. Throw in a TV tuner, a great docking station and a few media content partnerships, and Toshiba may be onto something here.

The new Qosmio is a much needed aesthetic improvement. Last year's model was packed to the brim with exciting features like an eye-tracking, glasses-free 3D display, but was matched with a horrendously gaudy design. The new Qosmio is, thankfully, much more subdued, and 25% thinner to boot. Kudos.

Finally, Toshiba refreshed the design of its all-in-one LX series. Last year's model took its design cues from Toshiba's popular line of Regza HDTVs. The new LX-series has its own identity, but the chunky body, flimsy looking tripod stand, and, quite frankly, ugly speaker bar do not have me sold. I much preferred the Regza stylings of last year's model. Then, I thought it remarkable that Toshiba's first desktop computer in a decade had brought with it a refreshingly practical look to a product category that usually lacks compelling aesthetics.
  • Has Toshiba's Ivy Bridge and Android refresh inspired any of you to give the brand another look?
  • Is anyone at all interested in a 13-inch tablet?
  • Does an aluminum build matter on a near-entry level laptop?
  • Does the still beefy, but subdued Qosmio offer a cost-effective alternative to the Razer Blade?
  • Is it even worth talking about touchscreen all-in-ones before Windows 8 drops in the Fall?

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