Toshiba has been designing and manufacturing notebooks for 20 years, starting with the T110 in 1985, which weighed in at over 7kg, had a battery life of 60 minutes and green LCD screen. To celebrate, the company has chosen to reinstate one of its older ultraportable lines, in the form of the Toshiba Libretto U100. Initially there will be this one model but if it proves popular, the line will be expanded.
This is no normal laptop but is instead a showcase model for Toshiba as it highlights how far miniaturization has come. On first appearance, the U100 looks and feels more like a shrunken notebook but its proportions are in keeping with larger machines as opposed to being a slimmed down ultraportable.
The U100 isn’t really intended to be used as your sole computer. Rather, it should be used as a portable on the move - its size makes it ideal for carrying in your overnight luggage or even your day bag. With a weight of 1kg and measuring 210 x 145 x 35mm, it won’t be a burden.
Rather than running on cathode lamps, the 7.2-inch screen is backlit using LEDs. This is a technology not usually found in notebooks. The benefit of using this technology is in its power efficiency, as it is far less power hungry than alternate technologies. On the downside, image quality isn’t as bright and images have a slight ting to them. Image quality is enhanced, though, by the use of a Toshiba TruBrite anti-glare layer.
In terms of performance, Libretto is fitted with an Intel 1.2GHz Pentium M 753 ULV processor. Designed with battery life rather than raw processing power in mind, you’ll find you’ll be able to use the U100 for writing reports and using as an email client but you won’t want to run anything too complicated on it. Battery life more than compensates though, with four hours possible without worrying too much - this is impressive given the size of the battery cell on the machine.
Toshiba ships the U100 with a docking station, which doesn’t add to the array of ports but merely houses the optical drive - in this instance a dual-format DVD rewriter. For such a small chassis there is a wide array of connectivity on-board the U100. With two USB 2.0 ports running alongside two Firewire - one mini and one full-sized - as well as PC Card and SD card slots, you’ll find as much connectivity as on a standard laptop.
Miniaturisation has its drawbacks and can often lead to cramped and awkward handling. While the keyboard is on the small size, it’s comfortable to use. The mouse button and pointing-stick are a different matter. With such a small keyboard, the pointing stick has been moved to sit between the mouse buttons, which makes using them both a two-fingered operation and fiddly at best.
The Toshiba Libretto U100 is an amazing notebook that highlights many of the technologies that make Toshiba one of the leading manufacturers in the world. We found the screen to be a nice addition. While you won't want to use the U100 as your main machine, for use on the move it's a powerful and flexible machine with an impressive battery life for its size.
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