Toshiba's Portege M700 is a tablet with a premium price tag sporting premium features and performance. If you're a mobile professional willing to pay a whole pile of cash for a highly featured tablet, this little companion might be the friend for you.
Design and features
When you first meet the M700, there is no disguising that it's ugly. It's certainly no sleek and thin Macbook Air. However, after you sit down with the M700 for a while, you will discover just how talented it is. After we spent some time using it in the office, we liked it so much that we took it home to play with.
Considering its plethora of features the M700 is surprisingly light, at just 2kg you won't have trouble carrying it around. It isn't too big either, about the size of a large notepad, with dimensions of roughly 30x24x4cm.
Its black and grey exterior exudes functionality, with a mass of ports sticking out on every side. You'll find the 3.5mm audio in/out jacks on the front along with a Wi-Fi switch, volume control and a mini IEEE 1394 FireWire port.
On the right-hand side we were pleased to see a DVD-RW optical drive, along with an SD card reader and a port for the built-in fax modem — which is a handy feature on a tablet of this size. On the left, you will find two USB ports and a Type II PC Card slot, in case you want to add even more features to this already heavily featured laptop. On the rear of the M700 you will find another USB port, VGA, Ethernet and a power input.
Although small, the keyboard on the M800 is comfortable to type on. One thing that did annoy us was the placement of the page up and page down keys. Placed right next to the arrow keys, we found that we accidentally hit them instead of the arrows when working on documents. p>
The track pad on the M700 is small and not particularly sensitive. It's also bizarrely placed slightly to the right, meaning you may accidentally use it while typing.
On the other hand, we liked the touch screen so much we often found ourselves reaching for the stylus rather than the track pad. The touch screen is truly one of the best features of this laptop. It's sensitive and easy to use. We had no trouble even with tricky features like small scroll bars, and learning the -pen flicks" — the M700 offers a free tutorial.
The M700 sports a crisp 12.1-inch 1280x800 (WXGA) display with a 1.3-megapixel webcam at the top. While we enjoyed rotating the screen on the M700 to use it as a true tablet, be aware that the Wi-Fi antenna is located on the back of the display, so you may loose or slow down your connection if you choose to use it like this. Wi-Fi options include 802.11a, b, and draft n. Bluetooth is also included.
When folding the M700 into -notepad" mode, you get the option of an OCR system for handwriting, which float via a small tab on the side of the screen. The system didn't have any trouble recognising our scrawl, but in case it has trouble recognising yours, the M700 has the option of a software touch keypad.
The M700 comes with a range of pre-installed software. However, we weren't impressed by the trial versions of Norton Internet Security and MS Office 2007, anything short of a full version we consider to be an advert.
On the plus side, there are several pre-installed programs that could be useful. Toshiba Assist provides various shortcuts to help options in Windows while Toshiba Security Assist allows you to set passwords on hardware such as the HDD and BIOS, along with other security options. You might also find some use in Toshiba's on-board backup program, Recovery Disk Creator.
The M700 sent to ZDNet.com.au came with Windows Vista Business and the option of an XP Pro downgrade. The inclusion of a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 means this PC has the grunt to run Vista without trouble. The 2GB of RAM (with the option to upgrade to 4GB, although Vista 32 won't support it all) gave very healthy performance scores.
PCMark05 gave an overall score of 3,572 with notable distinction to the CPU with a score of 6,089. The M700 includes an integrated Intel 965GM integrated graphics accelerator — but given that a graphics accelerator takes advantage of the on-board RAM, an upgrade to 4GB might give you solid graphics performance. If you're after the best ROI we recommend you get the 3GB upgrade, as Vista 32-bit will only recognise just over 3GB.
Internally, the M700 comes with a 160GB HDD. For the asking price, we would have preferred a solid state drive as you will rapidly learn that moving the tablet will make a little warning come up that will tell you the HDD head has been moved.
Sadly, performance comes at the cost of battery life, (we're still waiting for those silicon nanowires to increase the density of Lithium-ions in batteries). Battery life on the M700 is average, with Toshiba claiming up to four hours of battery life. When playing a DVD, The Usual Suspects, the tablet gave us two hours and 25 minutes of playtime.
A big selling point for the M700 is its 3G HSDPA wireless broadband. To test the speed, we used ZDNet.com.au's broadband speed test, which gave an average speed of 8.63Mbps (1079KBps) in the Sydney CBD — a super fast result. However beware, while you may be seduced by speed, Telstra's 3G wireless broadband isn't cheap. Prices range between AU$35 for 10 hours a month to AU$115 for 3GB a month.
For the AU$4180.00 price tag you would want to get a lot from the Toshiba M700 — and you do — but you'd have to really want it to justify this price. However there are reasons to, this handy little tablet comes with a raft of features and the added bonus of fast HSDPA 3G wireless broadband. If you're a mobile professional looking for a tablet and are willing to part with a big pile of cash, this little companion might be the friend for you.