When I recently reviewed the Toshiba 7 and 10 inch tablets, the AT270 and AT300 respectively, it was the 7-inch tablet that came out on top. The AT300’s screen felt lackluster for the price, and Ice Cream Sandwich OS felt like it slowed things down just for the sake of having Flash compatibility.
With the AT300SE, Toshiba aims to provide a cheaper, slightly bulkier, but much faster alternative to the regular AT300 tablet. So the AT300SE comes with the same hardware as the regular AT300, carrying the Tegra 3 quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM. The 10-inch IPS display panel also remains the same with a 1280 x 800 resolution, giving it a rather bland 149ppi density.
The AT300SE also comes with the same battery, giving it almost 9 hours of usage. Two things have changed significantly, though. The first is the rear camera, downgraded from the 5MP in the AT300 to just 3MP in the AT300SE, while the front facing drops 2MP to 1.2MP. However, there is a nice upgrade in the form of Android Jelly Bean, which helps giving the ageing processor a nice shot in the arm.
I don’t personally mind the camera downgrade as I’m from the crowd who never takes photos from a tablet. Meanwhile the front facing camera downgrade will hurt the quality of Skype calls. The size increase is marginal, with the width increasing by 2.3mm and the depth increasing by 1.2mm and a total weight increase of 40.6 grams. The size and weight increase, plus the camera downgrades all add up to marginal inconveniences which is then offset by the price decrease of AED 400. Well, that and the Jelly Bean update which makes the AT300SE feel much faster than the AT300.
The build quality is the same, with a complete plastic casing and a front that’s dominated by the glass screen. On the top we have the power button and the mic; nothing on the right. At the bottom we have two thin slots for the stereo speakers, while the left houses the 3.5mm headphones jack, the volume control buttons, the micro-USB data transfer & charge port and a microSD slot.
On the far top left, just under the power button, we have the rear 3MP camera, while the front facing camera sits smack in the middle on the top. The build quality itself feels very solid, with the overall design being kept very simple.
Daily usage is identical to the AT300, except for the speed improvements that come along with Jelly Bean, plus the smooth UI. Between the two I would definitely recommend the AT300SE over the regular AT300. Of course, there’s no audio or visual enhancement on the AT300SE like the ones Toshiba has on the AT300 and AT270, but that’s not a big deciding factor when looking at such a large price drop.
The AT300 is definitely a more premium product, but it has enough drawbacks that a cheaper alternative is better. And while the Toshiba AT270 is one of the best 7-inch tablets out there, the price point is prohibitively high, making the AT300SE the best tablet of choice from Toshiba right now.