Toshiba Tecra 9100

Summary: Toshiba's latest Tecra is as nice to look at and use as its predecessor, but we were a little disappointed with this 1.6GHz Mobile Pentium 4 system's performance, and battery life was less than expected. Hopefully production machines (which will have a slightly faster CPU and more RAM) will be quicker.

  • Editors' rating:
    6.6
  • User rating:
    0.0
  • RRP:
    USD $2,824.00
    GBP £2,199.00

Pros

  • Well designed, reasonably lightweight and compact
  • built-in Bluetooth and 802.11b wireless connectivity
  • good international warranty.

Cons

  • Not as fast as expected
  • no floppy drive as standard
  • fairly expensive
  • shorter battery life than the Mobile Pentium III-M-based Tecra 9000.

Toshiba has taken its Tecra line of corporate notebooks a step forward by introducing the 9100 model, which is based on Intel's new Mobile Pentium 4 Processor-M (MP4-M). The previous Mobile Pentium III-M-powered 9000 model was impressive, so has the upgrade paid off?

Externally, the Tecra 9000 and the 9100 appear very similar, if not identical, so you get the well-conceived styling and contrasting silver and black finish that characterised the 9000.

The dimensions and weight are also unchanged, leaving you with a reasonably portable 2.45kg notebook. There's room within the 31 by 26.9cm footprint for a 14.1in. screen running in XGA resolution, and a keyboard that feels reasonably spacious and finger-friendly.

The screen could have been a fraction brighter, but didn't give any other cause for complaint. We suspect that the trademark Toshiba/IBM 'finger-joystick' stud set into the keypad, rather than the keyboard itself, will cause users more problems.

As in the 9000, the lid is made of magnesium alloy to protect the screen during transportation, but unlike the earlier model, the underside of the case itself is not made of metal but plastic. According to Toshiba, the combination of the Mobile Pentium 4 processor and highly conductive magnesium made the machine too hot to sit comfortably on the lap, so it switched back to plastic.

You don't get a floppy drive as standard with this system, but Toshiba sells an external USB drive for about £65 if you need one. The 8-speed DVD-ROM drive is removable and the bay supports hot-swapping of various options ranging from a basic CD-ROM to a combo DVD/CD-RW drive, or alternatives like a second battery or hard disk.

All the drive modules are interchangeable with Toshiba's ultraportable Portégé line, which may help managing resources if you are dealing with large numbers of notebooks -- and you stick to Toshiba across the board, as is clearly the intention. The cross-compatibility is sensibly extended to the port replicator option, which will dock all models in both ranges.

Hidden away inside the case are not one but two wireless adapters, allowing you to use Bluetooth 1.1 or 802.11b (Wi-Fi) connectivity as required. This hardware can be turned off manually from the front panel to save battery power during ordinary usage.

We were curious to see how well the Tecra 9100 fared on battery power, thanks to the various tricks employed by the MP4-M processor's Enhanced SpeedStep functions. The results were less impressive than we had hoped, with BatteryMark 4 reaching the end of the line after 2 hours 11 minutes, which is acceptable, but not exactly a new milestone in endurance.

Performance was also a bit lacklustre, although this was an early review sample and the official specification will use a 1.7GHz rather than a 1.6GHz processor, 256MB of DDR SDRAM rather than 128MB, and a 40GB rather than a 15GB hard disk drive. This will all have a positive effect on overall speed, but as things stand, the Tecra 9100 is only marginally faster than the 1GHz MPIII-M-based Tecra 9000 we tested back in October 2001.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
System Type Notebook
Recommended Use corporate business, small business
Notebook type Thin-and-light (4-6 lbs.)
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Pentium 4-M 1.7 GHz, Intel Pentium 4-M 1.7 GHz
Cache L2 - 512 KB - Advanced Transfer Cache, L2 - 512 KB - Advanced Transfer Cache
Front Side Bus 400 MHz
Chipset Intel 845MP
Memory
Max RAM Supported 1 GB
Technology DDR SDRAM, DDR SDRAM
Speed 266 MHz, 266 MHz
Form Factor SO DIMM 200-pin
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 1
Storage
Floppy Drive 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy - external, 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy - external
Optical Drive 1 x DVD-ROM - removable, 1 x DVD-ROM - removable
Read Speed 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)
Optical Drive (2nd) none
Type portable
Environmental Parameters
Environmental standards EPA Energy Star
Min Operating Temperature 41 °F
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
Humidity Range Operating 20 - 80%
Max Altitude Operating 9840 ft
Display
Resolution 1024 x 768 ( XGA )
Widescreen No
Color Support 24-bit (16.7 million colors), 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Compliant Standards VESA DPMS
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor AGP 4x - S3 SuperSavage/IXC - 16 MB, AGP 4x - S3 SuperSavage/IXC - 16 MB
Supported Display Graphics SVGA (800x600), SXGA (1280x1024), SXGA+ (1400x1050), UXGA (1600x1200), XGA (1024x768)
Video Output Supported NTSC, PAL
Sound Microphone, Microphone
Signal Processor Intel 845MP
Compliant Standards AC '97, DirectMusic, DirectSound, DirectSound3D
Input
Type AccuPoint II, keyboard
Communications
Network Interface 10/100 Ethernet
Modem
Max Transfer Rate 56 Kbps
Battery
Installed Qty 1
Max Supported Qty 2
Capacity 3 mAh
Run Time 2.1 sec
AC Adapter
Input AC 100/240 V ( 50/60 Hz ), AC 100/240 V ( 50/60 Hz )
Output 75 Watt, 75 Watt
Connections & Expansion
Expansion Bays 1 x front accessible, 1 x front accessible
Slots 2 x memory ( 1 free )
1 x CardBus ( 1 free ), 2 x memory ( 1 free )
1 x CardBus ( 1 free )
Interfaces 1 x microphone - input - mini-phone mono 3.5 mm
1 x infrared - IrDA
1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire) - 4 pin FireWire
1 x serial - RS-232 - 9 pin D-Sub (DB-9)
1 x parallel - IEEE 1284 (EPP/ECP) - 25 pin D-Sub (DB-25)
1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX - RJ-45
1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11
1 x display / video - composite video output - RCA
1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x keyboard / mouse - generic - 6 pin mini-DIN (PS/2 style)
1 x docking / port replicator - 240 pin docking
1 x headphones - output - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
2 x USB - 4 pin USB Type A, 1 x microphone - input - mini-phone mono 3.5 mm
1 x infrared - IrDA
1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire) - 4 pin FireWire
1 x serial - RS-232 - 9 pin D-Sub (DB-9)
1 x parallel - IEEE 1284 (EPP/ECP) - 25 pin D-Sub (DB-25)
1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX - RJ-45
1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11
1 x display / video - composite video output - RCA
1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x keyboard / mouse - generic - 6 pin mini-DIN (PS/2 style)
1 x docking / port replicator - 240 pin docking
1 x headphones - output - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
2 x USB - 4 pin USB Type A
Memory Card Reader Yes ( SD Card ), Yes ( SD Card )
Software
Software Included Adobe Acrobat Reader, Drivers & Utilities, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Windows Media Player, SPANWorks 2000, Toshiba Custom Utilities
Miscellaneous
Integrated Options Microphone, stereo speakers, keyboard, display, AccuPoint II, Microphone, stereo speakers, keyboard, display, AccuPoint II
Features Toshiba SecureSleep, administrator password, hard drive password, keyboard lock, security lock slot (cable lock sold separately), system password
Compliant Standards ACPI, APM
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.2 in
Depth 10.6 in
Height 1.5 in
Weight 5.3 lbs
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Qualified Yes
Sustainability
ENERGY STAR Qualified Yes
Greenpeace policy rating (Nov 2011) 2.8

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.