Toshiba Tecra M10-10H notebook

Toshiba’s Tecra range is aimed firmly at corporate users, with machines offering great usability and build quality. The Tecra M10-10H fits perfectly into the role of business workhorse, also offering useful performance and a great keyboard.

The 14.1-inch screen strikes a useful balance between mobility and usability. It’s still a long way off ultra portable, weighing 2.6kg, but you won’t have any trouble slipping it into most laptop bags and taking it on the daily commute.

As with many corporate machines, the M10 eschews a glossy panel in favour of standard TFT technology. Despite this, colours are vivid and images are crisp. The 1440 x 900-pixel resolution also offers plenty of space for working with multiple windows. We found reflections, fingerprints and general grime was kept to a minimum by the matt finish, making it a great choice for use on the train and outdoors.

The Toshiba’s chassis is impressively robust, and you can pick it up from the very corner with no sign of flex or groans. It is a bulky design, however, lacking the slim dimensions of many of its rivals.

The keyboard is one of the best we’ve seen on a recent Toshiba laptop, offering faultless usability. The keys are large and of a high quality, and move with a reassuring click. The board remained rigid under pressure, adding to the sense of quality.

You’ll find two ways to operate the cursor, with a touchpad and a pointing stick in the centre of the keyboard. Both offer impressive usability, although we preferred the touchpad for more accurate control. There are two sets of buttons in place, further adding to usability.

3D performance is predictably limited, due to the use of an integrated Intel GMA 4500M graphics card. It offers enough performance for office work, watching DVDs and other everyday tasks, but there’s no chance of playing games in your spare time. Battery life is boosted by the integrated chip, although the 4hrs 30min running time isn’t anything overly special.

Processing power is more impressive - the 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip is only a mid-range solution, and the 2048MB of memory could also be improved on. However, we found no sign of major lag even when running a number of intensive applications. Start-up times were minimal, and the system ran smoothly at all times. The 160GB hard drive is smaller than most at this price range.

In-keeping with this machine’s business aspirations, there’s no sign of features such as a Blu-ray drive or integrated webcam. The latter may be a surprise and disappointment for those used to video conferencing, although useful features include an integrated fingerprint reader and a serial port for adding older peripherals. Along with a PC card slot, it may not be cutting-edge, but it’s bound to appeal to small businesses with older equipment.

802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet make up the fastest network connections currently available, although 3G/HSDPA technology is sadly not present. Rounding off the features list are four USB ports, a multi-format DVD drive and a memory card reader.

Verdict

The M10 doesn’t offer anything innovative, and has few standout features, but as an all-round package it’s a useful, well made and powerful business machine. It’s a shame the latest features - such as 3G/HSDPA - are omitted, but if all you need is a tough, reliable and comfortable laptop, then it may be worth putting the Toshiba on your shortlist. That said, at £700, it faces stiff competition from the likes of Dell’s Latitude E-series.


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