Toshiba Portégé A600-122

  • Editors' rating
    7.6 Very good

Pros

  • Integrated mobile broadband
  • Matte screen
  • Integrated optical drive

Cons

  • Build quality is flimsy in places
  • On the bulky/heavy side for an ultraportable

The Portégé A600 from Toshiba is an alternative for anyone who considered the R600 but balked at its £1,199 (ex. VAT) price tag. The A600 isn't quite as svelte and lightweight as the R600, but it's eminently portable and can be configured with a large hard drive and mobile broadband.

Design
The Portégé A600 is a 12.1in. ultraportable weighing 1.46kg. It has a silver outer shell and, inside, a silver keyboard area and black screen surround. As far as aesthetics go, it’s workmanlike rather than exciting.

The lid section is nearly a centimeter shorter than the base, which makes the status LEDs beneath the wrist-rest visible when the notebook is closed. Unfortunately it also provides a potential route for foreign objects to get between screen and keyboard when the notebook is in a travel bag.

At 28.6cm by 22.3cm by 2.99cm the A600 has a compact footprint, though its thickness makes it feel a little bulky. The system's 1.46kg weight is at the high end of the scale for today's ultraportables, but it's not unduly heavy. Build quality is fairly good, although there's some give in the wrist-rest area and quite a lot of flex in the lid section.

The 12.1in. screen is clear and sharp, and its matte finish means there's no awkward reflectivity when you have a light source behind you. The 1,280-by-800 pixel screen has good viewing angles — slightly better in the horizontal plane than the vertical.

The keyboard also exhibits a significant amount of flex, particularly in the central portion. Despite this, it's pretty comfortable to use with plenty of tactile feedback.

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The touchpad has vertical and horizontal scrolling integrated, although there are no markings to indicate this. The mouse buttons sit inside a shiny silver plastic frame, which jars with the rest of the notebook's design. A fingerprint scanner sits between two mouse buttons.

There are two buttons above the screen. One opens the Windows Mobility Center, which accesses a range of system settings, while other brings up the Toshiba Assist window. This provides yet more settings for security, diagnostics, hard drive protection and Bluetooth connection management. Above the screen is a basic 0.3-megapixel webcam.

Features
There are two A600 models: our review sample, the £949 (ex. VAT) Portégé A600-122 costs £100 more than its 120 sibling, as it includes mobile broadband and a larger hard drive.

The processor is Intel's 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo SU9300, which has an 800MHz frontside bus and 3MB of Level 2 cache. The standard RAM complement is 2GB, expandable to 5GB. Graphics are handled by the GMA 4500MHD module integrated in Intel's GS45 Express chipset.

Windows Vista Business is the default operating system: you can use the supplied recovery disk to install Windows XP Professional if required.

The Portégé A600-112 has a 250GB hard drive, while the A600-120 has a 160GB hard drive. Both hard disks spin at 5,400rpm.

Wireless communications are exemplary, with Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g, Draft-N), Blueooth and mobile broadband (7.2Mbps down/2Mbps up) all integrated. The SIM card slot for the latter is located under the battery.

Toshiba includes its own Wireless Manager software for mobile broadband, this can be used to manage connections, phone contacts (on both SIM and notebook) and text messages. We tested the wireless broadband module with an Orange 3G SIM and it worked perfectly.

Ultraportables are rarely blessed with copious ports and connectors, but the A600 has a reasonable selection. On the left edge, from front to back, is a volume wheel, a pair of audio connectors, a USB 2.0 port, a combined USB/eSATA port and a VGA connector for an external monitor.

The right edge houses the optical drive, an ExpressCard slot, a wireless on/off switch, a second USB 2.0 port and the Ethernet (RJ-45) connector. This edge also houses a reader for SD-compatible media.

Performance
The Portégé A600-112's overall Windows Experience Index (WEI) rating of 3.3 just beat the Portégé R600 (3.2). The component WEI scores were generally similar between the two machines, except in the Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate) test; here, the R600's 7,200rpm drive gave it an advantage (5.7) over the A600 (5.3) with its slower 5,400rpm drive.

Elsewhere, RAM (Memory operations per second) scored 4.8, Processor (calculations per second) 4.4, Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero) 3.4 and Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance) 3.3.

The system's standard Li-ion battery is rated for up to 7.5 hours' use, according to Toshiba. To test this, we fully charged the system and chose Toshiba's Balanced power plan. We then ran our DVD playback test until the system expired: under these conditions we got 3 hours 18 minutes of movie playback.

Conclusion
The Portégé A600-112 is a well specified ultraportable with particularly good wireless connectivity. However, the build quality seems a touch flimsy in places, including the keyboard.

 

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Platform Technology Intel Centrino 2 with vPro Technology
Preinstalled OS Windows Vista
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 / 1.2 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache L2 - 3 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Power Efficiency Ultra Low Voltage (ULV)
Chipset Type Mobile Intel GS45 Express
Features Execute Disable Bit capability
Cache Memory
Type L2 cache
RAM
Memory Specification Compliance PC2-6400
Configuration Features 1 x 1 GB + 1 GB (soldered)
Technology DDR2 SDRAM
Memory
Technology DDR2 SDRAM
Speed 800 MHz / PC2-6400
Form Factor SO DIMM 200-pin
Slots Qty 1
Empty Slots 0
Storage
Interface Serial ATA-150
Optical Drive DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM
Type none
Read Speed 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)
Write Speed 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD±R) / 4x (DVD±R DL)
Rewrite Speed 16x (CD) / 6x (DVD-RW) / 8x (DVD+RW) / 5x (DVD-RAM)
Type portable
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Widescreen Display Yes
Image Aspect Ratio 16:10
Monitor Features HighBrightness
Type LED
Display Resolution Abbreviation WXGA
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 20 - 80%
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel GMA 4500MHD
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0
Integrated Webcam Yes
Resolution (MP) 0.3 Megapixel
Sound Speaker , microphone
Hard Drive
Type HDD
Input
Type keyboard
Features spill-proof
Communications
Wireless Protocol Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
Wireless Controller Intel WiFi Link 5100
Wired Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
Wireless Broadband (WWAN)
Generation 3G
Cellular Protocol HSUPA
Optical Storage
Drive Type DVD SuperMulti DL
Type DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM
Processor
CPU Type Core 2 Duo
Processor Number SU9300
Manufacturer Intel
Floppy Drive
Type none
Battery
Technology lithium ion
Card Reader
Type card reader
Supported Flash Memory SD Memory Card
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )
Output 45 Watt , 15 V , 3 A
Connections & Expansion
Slots 1 x memory ( 0 free )
1 x ExpressCard ( 1 free )
Interfaces 1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T - RJ-45
1 x microphone - input - mini-phone 3.5mm
1 x headphones - output - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
2 x USB 2.0 - 4 PIN USB Type A
1 x storage / USB 2.0 - USB 2.0 / eSATA
1 x docking / port replicator
Memory Card Reader Yes ( SD Card )
Header
Brand Toshiba
Product Line Toshiba Portégé
Model A600-122
Country Kits United Kingdom
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Software
Microsoft Office Preloaded Includes a preinstalled image of select 2007 Microsoft Office suites. Purchase a Medialess License Kit (MLK) to activate the software.
Networking
Data Link Protocol IEEE 802.11n (draft)
Compliant Standards Wi-Fi CERTIFIED
Wireless LAN Supported Yes
Wireless NIC Intel WiFi Link 5100
System
Platform Technology Intel Centrino 2 with vPro Technology
Notebook Type notebook
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Miscellaneous
Color aluminium silver
Security Fingerprint reader
Features hard drive password
Compliant Standards ACPI
Audio Output
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Mainboard
Chipset Type Mobile Intel GS45 Express
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows Vista Business / XP Professional downgrade
Type Toshiba Assist
Preinstalled OS Windows Vista
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel GMA 4500MHD
Video Memory
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0
Notebook Camera
Integrated Webcam Yes
Resolution (MP) 0.3 Megapixel
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type international warranty
Full Contract Period 3 years

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