Toshiba Portégé M700-110

  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good

Pros

  • Dual-mode touch-screen, usable with stylus or fingertip
  • Good set of features

Cons

  • Relatively bulky
  • Keyboard takes some getting used to
  • Only three USB 2.0 connectors
  • No HSDPA connectivity or webcam

The Tablet PC may not have taken off in the way its supporters hoped, but enough users swear by the format for a respectable number of hardware manufacturers to remain on-board. One is Toshiba, whose new Portégé M700 is its fourth-generation Tablet PC. There are two models, the M700-110 version reviewed here being the least expensive of the pair. Among the features this £949 (ex. VAT) system lacks is a webcam and HSDPA connectivity.

Design
The Portégé M700 is a mid-sized 'thin-and-light' notebook weighing 2kg: it's comfortable enough to carry from location to location, although the weight begins to make itself felt when you hold the system in the crook of an arm and use it tablet mode.

The M700 is a good fit for those who like a notebook with a bit of substance: it has a footprint measuring 30.5cm by 23.9cm and is 3.9cm thick at its maximum. Unfortunately, the build quality is uneven. Toshiba claims the Portégé M700 has a strengthened casing to help it survive knocks and drops, and the system unit is certainly robust enough. However, the lid section is not as solid as it could be.

The slate-grey casing with silver Toshiba branding on the lid is unremarkable, as is the internal colour scheme which mixes the slate grey with black. It's businesslike, but that's about all you can say.

There's no clasp to hold the lid and system unit together when the notebook is in transit. This leaves open the possibility that some object — a paperclip, for example — may find its way between screen and keyboard, causing damage.

The M700 is a convertible tablet, whose screen can swivel 180 degrees on a central hinge. There are two recesses into which protrusions on the lid section sit when the M700 is in both notebook and tablet mode. These help to keep the lid section firmly in place and prevent you from swiveling it in the wrong direction.

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The screen measures 12.1in. from corner to corner and has a native resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels. Toshiba's antiglare backlight helps to make it highly viewable both indoors and outside. The viewing angles are reasonably good, which will be welcome if you're working in tablet mode and want to share content with one or more co-workers.

The touch-screen is notable in featuring both an active digitizer layer for use with the provided stylus and a passive layer that responds to a finger. The stylus lives in a slot on the right front edge, and there's a covered housing on the underside for a spare.

The keyboard includes a full-sized number row. It took a little time to get used to typing at speed, possibly because of the relatively shallow key travel. The flexibility of the keyboard area doesn't help either — the trick is to develop a light touch, if you can. Toshiba says the keyboard is spill resistant, although we didn't put this to the test. The two-button touchpad supports vertical and horizontal scrolling on its right and bottom edges.

The Portégé M700 has a fingerprint reader, which is located on the bottom right edge of the screen so that it can be used when the system is in tablet mode. A number of other controls are located here, including the main on/off switch and a lock switch that disables the power button so that it can't be accidentally pressed while the notebook is in use. There's also a small joypad-style button for scrolling through documents. When pressed, this button opens the Windows Mobility Centre, where you can configure things like screen brightness, volume, power scheme, wireless activity and screen rotation without recourse to the keyboard.

The other Tablet PC buttons are for screen rotation, calling up the Windows log-in/switch users screen, opening Toshiba's Assist window (which offers various optimisation, security and connection tools) and switching to an external monitor for presentations.

Features
The Portégé M700 has a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 with 2MB of L2 cache and an 800MHz frontside bus. It comes with 2GB of RAM, which helps the default Windows Vista Business OS, run efficiently. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is available on a recovery CD if for those who are Vista-averse. Graphics are handled by Intel's GMA X3100, which is integrated in the GM965 Express chipset.

Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g and Draft-N) comes courtesy of Intel’s WiFi Link 4965AGN adapter. Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth are also here, but HSDPA connectivity is reserved for the more expensive (£1,099 ex. VAT) M700-3G11F model.

The hard drive is 120GB unit with shock-protection, which was set to its most sensitive level on our review system. As a result, we were informed that the drive had been made 'safe' every time we moved it in and out of tablet mode. Fortunately you can turn this off if required, or set separate sensitivity levels for tablet mode with battery power, notebook mode with battery power and notebook mode with mains power.

As far as ports and connectors are concerned, the front carries an on/off switch for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port, audio jacks and a volume control wheel. The status LEDs are also here, and are visible when the M700 is in either notebook or tablet mode.

The right side houses the (Super Multi Double Layer) optical drive, plus a flash card reader that accepts SD, MMC, xD and Memory Stick media. The specifications state that the reader supports SD cards up to 8GB in capacity. For those who still care, there's also a modem (RJ-11) port on this side.

On the left side there's a single PC Card slot and two USB 2.0 ports. The latter are set quite far apart, so you may be able to use them both at the same time even if your peripherals are somewhat bulky. There's a further USB 2.0 port at the back, along with a VGA port, the mains power input and the Ethernet (RJ-45) connector.

Performance & battery life
Vista's Windows Experience Index (WEI) is a creditable 3.5 for the Portégé M700. Two of its subsystems — Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero) and Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance) — achieve this rating while the remaining component scores are all considerably higher: 4.8 for RAM (Memory operations per second), 4.9 for Processor (calculations per second) and an impressive 5.0 for Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate).

Toshiba suggests a battery life of 4 hours 40 minutes, based on MobileMark 2007 and our experience over the review period broadly confirms this.

The M700 comes with a three-year international warranty, which includes collect and return within the UK and Ireland.

Conclusion
The Portégé M700-110 is a generally solid 12.1in. convertible Tablet PC, although the lid section could offer greater protection for the screen. The keyboard may take some getting used to, but the dual-mode touch-screen is a nice feature. It's a good choice for Tablet PC fans — and if you need HSDPA or a webcam, it's a relatively small step up to the £1,099 (ex. VAT) 3G11F model.

 

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Platform Technology Intel Centrino Pro
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 / 2 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache L2 - 2 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Chipset Type Mobile Intel GM965 Express
Cache Memory
Type L2 cache
RAM
Configuration Features 2 x 1 GB
Technology DDR2 SDRAM
Storage
Interface Serial ATA-150
Optical Drive DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM - removable
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
Memory
Technology DDR2 SDRAM
Speed 667 MHz
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 0
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Resolution 1280 x 800 ( WXGA )
Widescreen Display Yes
Monitor Features HighBrightness
Type LED
Color Support 16.7 million colors
Display Resolution Abbreviation WXGA
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 20 - 80%
Hard Drive
Type HDD
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel GMA X3100
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 4.0
Sound Microphone
Input
Type keyboard
Communications
Wireless Protocol Bluetooth 2.0 EDR
Wireless Controller Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN
Wired Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
Processor
CPU Type Core 2 Duo
Processor Number T7250
Manufacturer Intel
Optical Storage
Drive Type DVD SuperMulti DL
Type DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM
Form Factor removable
Modem
Protocols & Specifications ITU V.92
Floppy Drive
Type none
Battery
Technology lithium ion
Card Reader
Type 5 in 1 card reader
Supported Flash Memory Memory Stick PRO
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )
Connections & Expansion
Expansion Bays 1 x Ultra Slim SelectBay
Slots 1 x PC Card ( 1 free )
2 x memory ( 0 free )
Interfaces 1 x network - Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T - RJ-45
1 x display / video - VGA - 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)
1 x microphone - input - mini-phone 3.5mm
1 x headphones - output - mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
3 x USB 2.0 - 4 PIN USB Type A
1 x modem - phone line - RJ-11
1 x docking / port replicator
Memory Card Reader 5 in 1 ( SD Card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, MultiMediaCard, xD-Picture Card )
Header
Brand Toshiba
Product Line Toshiba Portégé
Model M700-110
Country Kits United Kingdom
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Miscellaneous
Security Fingerprint reader
Features system password
Compliant Standards R&TTE
Networking
Data Link Protocol IEEE 802.11a
Wireless LAN Supported Yes
Wireless NIC Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN
System
Platform Technology Intel Centrino Pro
Notebook Type notebook
Mechanical Design convertible design
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Audio Output
Compliant Standards General MIDI
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Mainboard
Chipset Type Mobile Intel GM965 Express
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows Vista Business / XP Tablet PC Edition downgrade
Type Toshiba Disc Creator
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel GMA X3100
Video Memory
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 4.0
Expansion Bays
Total Qty 1
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 3 years

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