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Toshiba plans three new quad-core tablets to launch this spring, summer

by Phil Hornshaw

A lot of Android tablet competitors seem to be thinking about finding ways to compete below the price range of the Apple iPad.

The Kindle Fire has been successful with a price tag of $199, and rumor has it that Google wants to bring a branded tablet to the market to compete in that range as well. Lately, the focus has been on making tablets that are simple enough to do things like Internet and email well, while cutting the cost in order to stay clear of the much more expensive and versatile iPad. But Toshiba doesn’t see it that way.

Toshiba is launching three new tablets this year, all under the Excite brand name and all running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The three tabs each come in different sizes – 7.7 inches, 10 inches and 13 inches – and are designed to focus not on simplicity and price, but on power. Each will pack a quad-core Tegra 3 processor that should make them capable of some pretty powerful graphical feats.

As Ars Technica reports, each of the tablets will sport 1 gigabyte of RAM for running applications. The 10-inch Excite will have a 1280x800 screen resolution, while the 13-inch version will increase that to 1600x900. All three will include 16GB of hard drive memory, and the larger two tablets will have space for SD card slots; the 7.7-inch tab will include a micro-SD card slot. Toshiba says the Excite 13 will have 13 hours of battery life and weigh a little more than two pounds. The Excite 10 will sport 10 hours of battery life and weigh about 1.35 pounds, with the 13 coming in at 0.4 inches thick and the 10 at 0.35 inches thick.

By way of comparison, the new iPad is 10.1 inches, includes a 10-hour battery and has a resolution of 2048x1536 in its new Retina display. It weighs 1.44 pounds and is 0.37 inches thick.

While other tablet makers have been looking to downplay specs and work on price to be competitive in the tablet market, Toshiba told Ars it was having something of a different problem. With its Toshiba Thrive tablet, some two-thirds of tablet buyers ended up being in the 55 and older demographic, and while many bought the tablet intending to use it for things like playing games, they ended up just using it for tablet things – namely, email and Internet. So with the Excite line, Toshiba is looking to provide users with the means to do the things they want because of that powerful processor.

Toshiba is looking to pursue a demographic that cares about technical specs, weight and thickness, and not so much about price. That’s why it’s going to try to compete with Apple in its price range, with the tablets hitting $449, $499 and $649 price tags for the Excite 7.7, the Excite 10 and the Excite 13, respectively.

That’s a tough gamble, but Toshiba will have ICS, Tegra 3 processors and a 13-inch screen as aces in the hole, and those things could be enough to allow it to fight Apple on its home turf. We’ll get to see for sure starting in about a month: the Excite 10 launches on May 6, with the Excite 7.7 and the Excite 13 coming on June 10.

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