Tablet PC was supposed to change the way we work, or even more importantly, change the way we interact with computers. If you’re anything like us, then one of the main reasons you like computers is the keyboard - no one can tell how bad your handwriting is.
The Tecra M4 is Toshiba’s second stab at a Tablet PC and the fact that is comes across as a notebook with a digitised screen shows how much people actually want to use it. Reduced to a secondary function rather than the be-all and end-all, tablet computing suddenly feels more promising.
So, rather than opting for a super thin and light machine with no keyboard, we get a full sized laptop that comes with full-sized power - none of this ultra low power nonsense. Weighing in at 2.8kg, this isn’t a machine you’ll see being carried around like a slate tablet.
Built around the Intel 915PM chipset, processing comes from an Intel Pentium M 740 running at 1.73GHz. In combination with 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM, the M4 is well specified for most tasks. The addition of a 60GB hard drive also means there is plenty of space to store files and those smashing hand-written notes you’ll be creating.
So far, this is a standard Tecra notebook that can be used as your sole computer. We managed to get a little under 3 hours of battery life out of it, so you won’t be using it for long train journeys or meetings. When you want to switch into tablet mode, you simply twist the screen round and fold it down over the keyboard. The use of a 14.1-inch screen is where the additional weight has gone but in real terms it means you won’t want for writing space.
Given the fact that tablet functions are now seen as secondary, the screen is responsive and a great way to make notes - we’re just not convinced people use it as much as they’d like too. Adding greater power for its graphical abilities, the use of the 915PM chipset allows for a dedicated graphics solution. Opting for an nVidia GeForce Go 6600 chip, the M4 uses just 64MB of video memory for surprisingly effective 3D performance.
The Tecra M4 also marks the first time Toshiba has shipped its proprietary EasyGuard security technology with a Tablet PC. Data encryption and password protection secure information from prying eyes in the event of a theft or unwanted access. Hardware is also safeguarded by shock protection technology to park the hard drive heads during a fall, as well as the magnesium casing of the M4 chassis.
As with all tablets, you’ll find wireless connections with 802.11g compatibility, while fixed networks can be configured at Gigabit speed. Infrared and Bluetooth round out the wireless availability, ensuring strong business connectivity.
If you’re not convinced with the idea of Tablet PC, then the Tecra M4 may well be the machine for you - as it’s the tablet for people who hate tablets. Think of it more as a notebook with a flexible screen and you can’t go too far wrong.