With its silver-coloured magnesium body and thin LED-based screen, the Toshiba Tecra R10 (PTRB3A-001002) is reminiscent of the ultraportable Toshiba Portege notebook. It's not an altogether out of whack comparison, as the Tecra R10 is very light and slim for a 14.1in notebook. But it's much more powerful than the Portege could ever hope to be, and its combination of portability and power make it an ideal choice for a business user.
It is designed to be a portable desktop replacement, and it's very well suited to this job. You won't get tired while carrying it to and from work, as it only weighs 1.9kg, and a big part of its mobility is the thin screen. It's so thin because it's based on LED backlights instead of fluorescent tubes. When you first feel the screen, it seems to be a little too flexible, but after using it for a while it's evident that the screen is strong and will withstand plenty of pressure and twisting without getting damaged. The Toshiba Tecra R10's base tapers at the front, which makes the laptop look a lot less bulky than it is, and its edges are populated by a useful array of features.
You get three USB 2.0 ports — one of which is a combination Sleep-and-Charge USB 2.0/eSATA port — D-Sub, Gigabit Ethernet, headphone and microphone ports, an ExpressCard/54 slot, a tray-based DVD burner, and an SD card reader. You won't find FireWire or digital video ports. Indeed, HDMI and DVI ports are both missing, which is a shame as the unit has an NVIDIA Quadro NVS 150 graphics adapter that would be perfect for driving big external screens. The unit's native resolution is a relatively low 1280x800, so if you want to make use of a higher resolution you'll have to use the D-Sub port or invest in a docking station with DVI.
The screen's LED backlight makes it very bright and easy to view outdoors. Its viewing angles are wide enough for comfortable use while typing at a desk or riding public transport, and its colours are strong. However, it's not a good screen for watching videos unless you sit directly in front of it. At the top of the screen is a webcam, which is perhaps still a feature that's not quite ripe for business use but is useful for chatting with your friends and family overseas. The notebook doesn't have a facility to use the webcam for face recognition, but a fingerprint reader is present for security.
The Toshiba Tecra R10 is comfortable to use. It has a roomy palm rest and an easy-to-use, full-sized keyboard with big keys. Only the arrow, function, right Shift and page keys are smaller than usual; a touch-typist shouldn't have any problems using this keyboard. There is some wasted space to the left of the keyboard, where the power and two shortcut buttons reside. They would have been better off across the top of the chassis, which would have allowed even more space for the keyboard.
The chassis is bare across the top apart from the speakers. Even the status lights have been placed at the front, where the touchpad's buttons reside. The buttons are a little awkwardly placed — they cramp you up — but this has a lot to do with the touchpad itself being very small. It is smooth and responsive, however. In fact, it was a little too responsive, and we sometimes found ourselves inadvertently moving the cursor while typing. A button to disable the touchpad while typing would be a good feature for the next model.
The notebook's NVIDIA Quadro NVS 150 graphics adapter has its own memory and can be used to run high resolution displays. The notebook also has an Intel Core 2 Duo P9400 CPU (2.4GHz) and 4GB of DDR2 RAM. It runs Windows Vista Business 32-bit edition. The CPU, RAM and 7200rpm, 200GB hard drive combined to produce a score of 101 in our WorldBench 6 suite, which is an excellent result. With this notebook you will be able to run any office application and multitask without noticing much of a slowdown. In our MP3 encoding test the notebook took 1min 10sec to encode 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, which is spot-on for a 2.4GHz CPU.
The hard drive recorded a transfer rate of 27.89 megabytes per second in our tests. This is a fast result which indicates that the Tecra R10 will run disk-intensive tasks relatively well.
In our DVD rundown test, with the wireless adapter enabled and the screen at full brightness, the unit ran for 1hr 33min, which is a poor result. The unit comes with a 57 Watt hour battery by default, but an optional battery slice is available to extend the Tecra R10's battery life while on the road. Of course, if you use the laptop with low screen brightness and don't run CPU-intensive tasks then its standard battery should last much longer.
Despite its poor battery life, the Toshiba Tecra R10 (PTRB3A-001002) is a worthy laptop for any business user to consider. It's very light yet fast, it has a bright screen and it's comfortable to use for the most part. We wish it had a built-in facility for a SIM card, and we also wish more of the available chassis space was used for the keyboard and touchpad, but these aren't major issues.
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