Caption by: Sandra Vogel
Toshiba’s Portégé M750 is a convertible Tablet PC that updates the M700 that we reviewed last year. There are three models in the M750 series: we looked at the mid-range £1,049 (ex. VAT) M750-10K model; the entry-level M750-10J costs £849 while the top-end M750-10L costs £1,149.
Starting at 2kg, the M750 isn't a particularly lightweight tablet. It's also a little fatter than we'd like, measuring 3.94cm at the rear, tapering slightly to 3.74cm at the front. The footprint is pretty standard, at 30.5cm wide by 23.9cm deep. The M750 is a black-and-silver affair, with a silver lid and keyboard surround and a black screen frame and base.
The Portégé M750 is a 2kg Tablet PC with a dual-mode (stylus/finger) 12.1in. touch-screen. The 10K model reviewed here costs £1,049 (ex. VAT).
Unfortunately there's no clasp to hold the lid and base sections together when the M750 is in either clamshell or Tablet PC mode. Make sure the system has its own compartment in your travel bag to avoid the risk of foreign objects getting between screen and keyboard and causing damage.
The swiveling screen is held securely in place in both orientations thanks to clips that anchor it to the base section. These are solid enough to withstand a fair amount of pressure before allowing the screen to swivel.
The touch-responsive screen measures 12.1in. across the diagonal and has a native resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels. You can have two working windows open side by side, although we prefer at least 900 pixels of depth for maximum usability. The screen is LED backlit and has a high-brightness coating that makes it somewhat reflective.
The touch-screen can be driven by the supplied stylus or by a fingertip. The stylus lives in a housing on the right front edge when in notebook mode. If you should lose this, there's a spare (and much smaller) stylus in a secure compartment on the underside of the system.
The keyboard has a little flex, but this is only likely to disturb heavy-handed typists. The QWERTY keys are topped by a row of full-size number keys, with a row of half-height function keys above that.
The touchpad incorporates vertical and horizontal scrolling, although we found this a little fiddly — in fact, it's much more effective simply to drag scrollbars with a fingertip.
The Portégé M750's screen surround houses a number of buttons for accessing key features when in Tablet PC mode, includng: the (lockable) on/off switch; a shortcut to the Windows Mobility Centre, where you can make various system settings and tweaks; a shortcut to Toshiba Assist, which acceses various optimisation, diagnostics and security tools; and a button that replicates a Ctrl-Alt-Del keypress and brings up the 'Lock this computer' screen.
The Portégé M750 has an integrated accelerometer, although it doesn't kick in automatically to change screen orientation as on most smartphones. You hold the notebook in the position you want, then hold down another screen-side button, whereupon the screen rotates to the desired position. This is preferable to cycling through the four available orientations, and it worked very smoothly during testing.
A final button acts as a miniature joystick for moving around within applications. We found it very effective when used in conjunction with finger-tapping the screen.
A 1.3-megapixel webcam sits above the screen. This can be used not only for video conferencing, but also for logging in using face recognition. Further biometric security is available in the shape of a fingerprint reader, also located in the screen surround.
Our review sample, the Portégé M750-10K runs Intel's 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo P8400 processor. It came with 2GB of RAM, expandable up to 8MB. Graphics are handled by the GMA 4500MHD module integrated in the GM45 chipset; this shares its memory dynamically with system RAM (up to 1,340MB in a 4GB configuration).
Windows Vista Business is installed by default, but the notebook ships with a recovery CD that will downgrade to Windows XP Professional if you prefer.
The hard drive is a 160GB SMART-certified unit spinning at 5,400rpm. There's a modular optical drive on the right-hand side, a double-layer multi-format DVD rewriter.
For wireless connectivity, there's Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g, Draft-N) and Bluetooth. Wired communication is catered for by Gigabit Ethernet and a 56Kbps modem.
There's a good range of ports and connectors. Easily accessible at the front is a pair of audio jacks, a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port, a mechanical switch for the wireless module and a volume wheel.
On the left edge is a single PC Card slot, a USB port and a combined USB/eSATA slot. The latter are far enough apart that it should be possible to use both at once unless your peripherals (or their connectors) are particularly large.
On the right edge we find the modular optical drive, a flashcard slot for SD-and Memory Stick-compatible media. At the back of this edge is the modem (RJ-11) port. The housing for the main stylus is at the front of this edge.
The rear of the notebook carries the Ethernet (RJ-45) connector, a VGA connector for an external monitor and a further USB port.
The Portégé M750's Windows Experience Index (WEI) rating of 3.4 (out of 5.9) is disappointing. The overall rating corresponds to the lowest component score, which went to Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero). Hot on its heels with 3.6 was Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance). Graphics aside, performance was reasonable, with over-5 scores from all other subsystems: RAM (Memory operations per second), 5.1; Processor (calculations per second), 5.2; and Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate), 5.4.
Toshiba claims battery life of up to 5 hours for the Portégé M750. We chose the Balanced power scheme and worked on the system with Wi-Fi connected and music playing continuously in the background. Under these real-world conditions, we got just under 2 hours from the 4,700mAh Li-ion battery, which was disappointing. You can choose a different power scheme to stretch battery life a little further, but you're unlikely to get anywhere near a day's work without a recharge or recourse to a second battery.
The Portégé M750 is a solidly built convertible Tablet PC. We like the dual-mode (stylus/finger) touch-screen and a number of other design elements. However, it's cumbersome to use in tablet mode, while graphics performance and battery life are disappointing. Overall it's a pretty average offering.
Caption by: Sandra Vogel