Toshiba Tecra 9000

toshiba-tecra-9000-thumb.gif
  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good

Pros

  • Tough, stylish and portable
  • built-in wireless LAN
  • SD card slot
  • good battery life.

Cons

  • No floppy drive as standard
  • not exactly cheap.

Far from freezing in the headlights of oncoming industry bad news, Toshiba has recently launched a new range of portables, spearheaded by the Tecra 9000. Aimed mainly at corporate buyers, the Tecra 9000 features the latest Mobile Pentium III processor, called the Processor-M, and a fully integrated wireless LAN.

Along with the equally new Intel 830MP motherboard chipset, the Processor-M offers more performance for less power consumption. This is achieved by the CPU's 0.13-micron fabrication process and enlarged 512KB on-die Level 2 cache, along with support for PC133 memory and enhanced system-level power conservation from the i830 chipset. Intel also says that it has improved the SpeedStep clock and voltage switching employed by the processor itself.

As far as the Tecra 9000 is concerned, we were impressed by its design and build quality. Both the case and lid are made from metal alloy for maximum durability, and the neat, relatively compact two-spindle design tips the scales at a realistically portable 2.45kg.

Toshiba hasn't made the mistake of abandoning useful ports like PS/2, so you can easily connect an existing mouse or keyboard, and you get two USB ports for further peripherals. Unusually, at least by current standards, the Tecra also has an SD (Secure Digital) flash memory card slot, so you can transfer data from SD-equipped MP3 players, still and video digital cameras, and handhelds.

To decrease the overall cost of selecting Toshiba as a corporate purchase, the new Tecra and Portege ranges have been designed with inter-compatible drive modules and a one-size-fits-all port replicator.

This will certainly interest many potential buyers, but others might pay more initial attention to the Tecra 9000's integrated wireless LAN. All models will be equipped with an 802.11b adapter as standard, and some models will also have Bluetooth hardware as well, all invisibly integrated -- right down to the aerial, which is concealed inside the lid.

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Perhaps predictably, it was this area of our pre-production review sample that was not operating reliably, and so could not be fully tested. However, the neatly hidden components and the option for dual wireless standards on one machine are welcome features.

As you'd expect of a notebook in this class, it comes with conventional 10/100Base-TX networking and a V.90 modem built in, with expansion facilites provided by a pair of Type II PC Card slots.

Options for the multi-purpose drive bay include CD-RW and a combination DVD/CD-RW drive, as well as second hard disk and battery modules. The need for a second battery may not be pressing, because Intel's claims for the i830 chipset's improved system power management do translate into decent battery life. The BatteryMark 4.01 rundown test took 2 hours and 51 minutes to exhaust the charge in the 3,600mAh Li-ion battery, which is very acceptable for a well-featured 1GHz notebook.

Overall performance also benefits from the speed enhancements incorporated into the Processor-M and the i830 chipset. Business Winstone 2001 rated the Tecra at 28.2, placing it on a par with some 1GHz Pentium III desktops. Our review sample's performance doesn't approach the heights reached by Dell's Inspiron 8100, which scored a remarkable 44.2 on Business Winstone 2001 -- but the Dell system had 256MB rather than 128MB of RAM, as well as a faster hard disk and nVidia's class-leading GeForce2 Go graphics chipset.

Good performance and very good battery life, plus exemplary build quality and an impressive feature set, make the Tecra 9000 a desirable notebook -- even at the not inconsiderable price.

Specifications

RAM
Technology SDRAM
Processor
CPU Type Pentium III-M
Monitor
Diagonal Size 14.1 in
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows 2000

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