- Solid, sturdy build quality
- High-quality display
- Excellent keyboard
- Good security features
- Bulky to carry
- Uninspiring design
- Moderate battery life
Toshiba's 'thin-and-light' Tecra M10 range is aimed squarely at the small business market. Security is at the forefront, with both Intel vPro and a Toshiba security feature, EasyGuard, taking centre stage. It's a reasonably portable system, so it's good to see that mobile broadband can also be integrated.
There are four models in the range, which starts at £549 (ex. VAT). Our review sample is the top-of-the-range £849 (ex. VAT) model.
The Tecra M10 won't win any design prizes, but it does look reassuringly solid. The outer dark-silver lid sports a large, reflective, Toshiba logo; inside, the dark silver livery is combined with black, including a wide border around the screen.
At 2.4kg the Tecra M10 falls into the 'thin-and-light' category, although it's probably not a system a mobile professional would want to carry day in, day out. If you do take it on your travels, you'll need a fairly capacious bag as it measures 33.7cm wide by 24.5cm deep by 3.64-3.84cm high.
There's is no clasp holding the lid and system unit sections together, so the Tecra M10 will need its own pocket in your bag, unless you want to risk foreign objects getting between screen and keyboard.
The 14.1in. screen is sharp and bright, and its non-reflective matte finish is welcome. The display has a decent wide-screen resolution of 1,440 by 900 pixels and viewing angles are good. If more resolution is required, the Tecra M10's integrated graphics will output to an external monitor at up to 2,048 by 1,536 pixels.
The keyboard is a highlight, being both well constructed and spill-resistant. The keys are large and give good feeback, clicking nicely when pressed; we could touch-type at top speed without any trouble. A slight problem is the column of keys to the right of the Enter key. These offer Home, PgUp, PgDn and End functions. We'd have preferred these functions to be doubled up on the inverted-T cursor key cluster at the bottom right corner of the keyboard. As it stands, the Enter key is thinner than usual, which takes some getting used to.
The row of full-height number keys is topped by a row of half-height function keys with additional Fn key combinations. Unusually, when you press the Fn key a facsimile of the Fn key row appears on-screen, reminding you of the different keys' functions. When you choose a key a new image appears offering the relevant options. We found this useful, but the feature only seems to cover Fn 1-9, leaving Fn 10-12 unexplained; you’ll need to resort to the manual to uncover their functions.
There are three buttons above the keyboard. One is the main on/off switch. The second opens the Windows Mobility Centre, where you can do things like tweak display brightness and volume, change power setting, access wireless features and switch to an external display. The third launches Toshiba Assist, which gives access to a range of security and other settings such as customising the hard drive protection.
The touchpad is recessed a long way into the surrounding wrist rest. It has horizontal and vertical scrolling built into the bottom and right edges. Beneath it are two smallish but well-constructed mouse buttons, and between them a fingerprint sensor.
Above the touchpad is a second pair of mouse buttons, this time larger and designed with an upward curve so that they can be more easily used with the AccuPoint stick that sits between the G, H and B keys.
There are four M10 models, our M10-10I review sample running the top-end 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400. The system comes with 3GB of DDR2 RAM, which is expandable to a maximum of 8GB. Graphics are handled by Intel's GMA 4500MHD module, which is integrated in the GM45 Express chipset.
Three of the four Tecra M10 notebooks in the range feature Intel's vPro remote management technology that includes enhanced security features. Toshiba adds its own EasyGuard suite of security tools, which includes the fingerprint scanner, spill-resistant keyboard and hard drive protection, as well as a Trusted Platform Module (TPM).
The Tecra M10 runs Windows Vista Business and comes with a DVD for a self-administered downgrade to Windows XP Professional, if required.
The Tecra M10-10I model reviewed here has a 250GB hard drive: the entry-level 10W has a 120GB drive, while the mid-range 10H and 11V models each have 160GB drives. The optical drive is a DVD Super Multi double-layer drive.
Wireless connectivity comes courtesy of Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g, Draft-N) and Bluetooth (2.0), with Gigabit Ethernet and a V.92 modem for wired links. Mobile broadband is an option, but it wasn't present in our review sample. The notebook can also be configured with a webcam for videoconferencing.
All four edges of the notebook carry ports and connectors. The front edge has a pair of audio jacks and a volume control wheel. The status LEDs are also here, where they can be easily viewed when the notebook is closed.
The optical drive is on the right edge, at the front, with a smart card reader nestling above it. Behind are three USB 2.0 ports that suffer from the common problem of being placed quite close together. You may have trouble using two adjacent ports at the same time, depending on the size of your USB peripherals and/or their connectors. The modem (RJ-11) connector brings up the rear on the right-hand side.
The left edge has an (IEEE 1394) port at the front, and next to it a flash card reader that accepts SD and Memory Stick media. Above these is a single PC Card slot. Further back is a combined USB and eSATA port and a manual switch for wireless communications. The cooling vent sits towards the back of this edge, and behind this — an unusual sight these days — is a serial port.
The back edge houses the power connector, a VGA-out port and an Ethernet (RJ-45) connector.
The Tecra M10-10I's Windows Experience Index (WEI) rating of 3.7 (out of 5.9) is a little low, but is due to the system's integrated graphics, which deliver the lowest component score. This rating was for Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance). The next lowest score, 4.1, went to the other graphics element — Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero).
The other subsystems notebook all scored well: Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate), 5.1; Processor (calculations per second), 5.4; and RAM (Memory operations per second), 5.7.
As far as battery life is concerned, Toshiba claims a maximum of 4 hours 20 minutes (via MobileMark 2007). In our anecdotal test, we set the Tecra M10 to its Balanced Power scheme, turned Wi-Fi on and worked on it for as long as possible from a full battery charge. We played a music CD for the whole time just to ensure the processor was kept busy. Under this fairly testing regime we got about 2 hours 15 minutes of continuous operation.
The Tecra M10-10I is attractively priced, and offers a strong range of security and data protection features. We're not so impressed by the lack of a webcam and mobile broadband, but these can be added (at a price).
So long as you don't intend to carry this rather bulky notebook too often, its high-quality screen and excellent keyboard, plus a solid set of internal components, should make it a serviceable workhorse.
|Case form factor||clamshell|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||33.7x3.84x24.5 cm|
|OS & software|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Business (SP1); XP Professional downgrade option available|
|Software included||Connectivity Doctor, Toshiba Bluetooth Stack, Toshiba Bluetooth Monitor, Toshiba Disc Creator, Toshiba User's Manual, Toshiba Security Assist, Toshiba Assist, Toshiba DVD Player, Free 60-day trial of Microsoft Office Professional 2007, Windows XP Professional Edition recovery media, McAfee Internet Security Suite 2008 - Toshiba Edition (includes free Internet updates for 30 days), Toshiba Recovery Disc Creator, Toshiba Value Added Package (Toshiba Power Saver, Toshiba Zooming Utility, Toshiba PC Diagnostic Tool, Toshiba Flash Cards, Toshiba Components Common Driver, Toshiba Accessibility, Toshiba Button Support), Google Software (Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer, Google Desktop, Picasa), ConfigFree, Toshiba Management Console, Toshiba utilities and drivers|
|Chipset & memory|
|Chipset||Intel GM45 Express|
|RAM installed||3072 MB|
|Number of memory slots||2|
|RAM capacity||8 GB|
|GPU||Intel GMA 4500MHD|
|GPU type||Dynamic Video Memory Technology|
|Display technology||colour TFT|
|Display size||14.1 in|
|Native resolution||1440x900 pixels|
|USB||3 (+1 combined USB/ESATA port)|
|FireWire (IEEE 1394)||1|
|PC Card||1 x Type II|
|Flash card||SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MMC, xD-Picture Card|
|Ethernet||integrated Gigabit Ethernet|
|Wi-Fi||802.11a, b, g, Draft-N|
|Pointing devices||2-button touchpad, 2-button trackpoint|
|Keyboard||87 keys (spill resistant)|
|Audio connectors||microphone, headphone|
|Accessories||AC adapter, power cable|
|Other||fingerprint reader, webcam (optional)|
|Service & support|
|Standard warranty||3 years|
|Service & support details||international|
|Estimated battery life (mfr)||4.3 h|
|Number of batteries supplied||1|
|Hard drive interface||SATA|
|Hard drive type||standard|
|Hard drive capacity||250 GB|
|CD / DVD type||DVD±RW (±R DL)/DVD-RAM|
|Processor & memory|
|Processor model||Core 2 Duo T9400|
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