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Toshiba Tecra R10-112

  • Editors' rating
    7.3 Very good

Pros

  • High-quality screen
  • Webcam

Cons

  • Keyboard is cramped and has too much flex
  • Only two dedicated USB ports
  • Lacks integrated mobile broadband
  • Average battery life

Toshiba describes the 14in., sub-2kg Tecra R10 as having a 'sleek design, extensive features and lightweight portability'. There are three models available, our review sample being the entry-level £899 (ex. VAT) R10-122; the mid-range R10-11B (faster CPU, bigger hard disk) costs £1,049, while the top-end R10-114 (solid-state drive, integrated mobile broadband) costs £1,499.

Design
The Tecra R10 has a predominantly silver livery inside and out, except for the black frame around the screen. The system measures 33.7cm wide by 25.2cm deep by 2.87-3.06cm thick and weighs 1.97kg, keeping it just inside the sub-2kg 'ultraportable' class.

Build quality is generally robust, although there's a fair amount of flex in the lid section. We like the way the system tapers towards the front of the notebook and the fact that the lid section is slightly shorter than the base. With the status LEDs on a frame surrounding the mouse buttons, this means they're visible when the notebook is closed.

There's no clasp to hold the lid and base together when the notebook is closed, so you'll need a separate compartment in your travel bag to house the Tecra R10 securely in transit.

The screen is a 14.1in., high-brightness LED-backlit display. It has a matte finish, which will please those who find reflective screens distracting. Viewing angles are excellent, and the native resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels is adequate if not remarkable.

The spill-resistant 86-key keyboard is not entirely to our liking. There's plenty of space for it, yet the keys feel a little small. Worse, the keyboard has a good deal of flex: this was noticeable even with a relatively light touch, so heavy-handed typists may find it off-putting.

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To the left of the keyboard is a bank of three buttons on a vertical bar (there is a little flex in this bar, too). One button is the on/off switch; the second opens the Toshiba Assist window, which accesses various system settings; the third button opens the Windows Mobility Centre, which offers further customisations.

Beneath the keyboard, the touchpad has vertical and horizontal scrolling built into its right and bottom edges. The large mouse buttons sit on a separate panel made from shiny plastic, which contrasts well with the matte finish throughout the rest of the notebook. They barely depress at all, but do deliver a satisfying click. Between the two buttons is a fingerprint sensor.

A VGA-resolution webcam sits above the screen, with a status indicator to its left that illuminates when the camera is running. Toshiba provides some software for adding effects to any video or photos you shoot using it. The webcam can also be used for logging on using face recognition.

Features
The Tecra R10-112 uses a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP9300 processor, which has 6MB of Level 2 cache and a 1,066MHz frontside bus. This is a relatively new chip, which launched in the fourth quarter of last year. The other two Tecra R10 models use the faster 2.4GHz SP9400 chip. Our review sample had 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM, expandable to 8GB; the mid-range model comes with 3GB, while the top-end variant has 4GB.

Windows Vista Business was preinstalled, with a downgrade option to Windows XP Professional on a supplied recovery CD.

For storage, our review sample had a 160GB hard drive, while the R10-11B has a 200GB drive and the R10-114 splashes out on a 128GB solid-state drive. The mechanical drives benefit from a shock protection system. There's an integrated optical drive, a DVD Super Multi (double layer) unit, which sits on the right-hand side of the system.

Graphics are handled by Intel's integrated GMA 4500MHD chipset, which uses shared system memory and so isn't suitable for graphics-heavy work.

Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g, Draft-N) and Bluetooth are both integrated, along with Gigabit Ethernet for wired connectivity. If you want mobile broadband as well, you'll have to add it via a USB dongle or opt for the top-end £1,499 R10-114 model.

This notebook doesn't offer as many ports and connectors we'd like. There are only two dedicated USB 2.0 ports, for example — but at least they are physically separated, with one on the left and one on the right. Next to the left-hand USB port is a combined eSATA/USB connector, which unfortunately is a little too close to guarantee simultaneous use of both ports (this will depend on the connector size of your peripherals).

On the right side of the casing is a SmartCard reader, above the optical drive. Behind these is an on/off slider for the wireless radios and behind that the USB port. Tight to the bottom of the casing is an ExpressCard slot, which is difficult to access without lifting the notebook off the desk. Finally, at the back of this side are the Ethernet (RJ-45) port and the power connector.

The left-hand side carries a volume wheel and the audio jacks, then the USB and eSATA/USB ports. Behind these is an air vent and finally an VGA connector for an external monitor.

The back edge is covered by the bottom of the screen section when the notebook is in use and so is free of connectors. The sloping front section houses an SD card slot. This is located well beneath the curve of the casing and is not visible when the notebook is on a desk. It is slightly to the left of the fingerprint sensor. If Toshiba had built it in line with the sensor it would have been a lot easier to find. As it is you may need to use touch or slightly lift the notebook from the table to place a card in the slot.

Performance
Vista's Windows Experience Index (WEI) scores were slightly disappointing, although the overall score was brought low by the integrated graphics. The overall rating of 3.5 (out of 5.9) corresponds to the lowest subsystem score, which was for Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero). Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance) was the next lowest component score, at 3.7.

The remaining WEI scores were all healthily over 5: RAM (Memory operations per second) scored 5.1, Processor (calculations per second) scored 5.2 and Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate) scored 5.3.

All this adds up to a system well capable of handling mainstream business tasks. However, you'd be wise to avoid graphically demanding workloads unless you're prepared to put up with sub-par performance.

Toshiba quotes a battery life of up to 5.5 hours (using MobileMark 2007). In our tests, we charged the battery, chose the Balanced power management scheme and then set the notebook to play a DVD, which it did for 2 hours and 18 minutes. Clearly in real-world usage you're likely to need to recharge the system during an 8-hour working day, or carry a spare battery if you need a full day's mains-free operation. A 6-cell 5,100mAh battery will cost you another £85 (ex. VAT).

Conclusion
This is a good-looking 14in. ultraportable notebook with a particularly nice display. However, the design leaves it short of space for ports and connectors, while the keyboard has too much flex for comfort.

 

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Platform Technology Intel Centrino 2 with vPro Technology
Operating System Microsoft Windows Vista Business / XP Professional downgrade
Preinstalled OS Windows Vista
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo SP9300 / 2.26 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache L2 - 6 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Chipset Type Mobile Intel GS45 Express
Features Intel 64 Technology
Cache Memory
Type L2 cache
RAM
Technology DDR2 SDRAM
Memory
Technology DDR2 SDRAM
Speed 800 MHz
Slots Qty 2
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
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 20 - 80%
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Resolution 1280 x 800 ( WXGA )
Widescreen Display Yes
Monitor Features HighBrightness
Type LED
Display Resolution Abbreviation WXGA
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
Processor
CPU Type Core 2 Duo
Processor Number SP9300
Manufacturer Intel
Optical Storage
Drive Type DVD SuperMulti DL
Type DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM
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 )
Connections & Expansion
Slots 2 x memory
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 Tecra
Model R10-112
Country Kits United Kingdom
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Networking
Data Link Protocol Ethernet
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
Security Fingerprint reader, SmartCard reader
Features security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Compliant Standards ACPI
Software
Microsoft Office Preloaded Includes a preinstalled image of select 2007 Microsoft Office suites. Purchase a Medialess License Kit (MLK) to activate the software.
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 3 years warranty
Audio Output
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio
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 Bluetooth Monitor
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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