Lightweight, well-built, and offering plenty of performance, the Toshiba Tecra R10-S4401 is a well-rounded business machine with enough punch for plowing through spreadsheets or even through enemies on the digital battlefield. This $1,549 notebook also offers a helpful PC Health Monitor utility for anticipating problems and suggesting tune-ups. This is in addition to the hard drive protection, spill-resistant keyboard, and security features Toshiba typically offers on the Tecra line. The LED-backlit display and keyboard could be better, but overall the Tecra R10-S4401 is a good choice for business users on the go.
Measuring 13.3 x 9.9 x 1.1 inches and weighing 4.3 pounds, the Tecra R10-S4401 matches the Samsung X460-44P almost inch for inch and pound for pound. Its all-silver magnesium case isn’t as attractive as the Samsung’s black and red aesthetic, but this notebook offers a solid body that feels surprisingly light but sturdy.
The comfortable, well-spaced keyboard made typing a breeze, but the small touchpad and shallow mouse buttons will have you reaching for a wireless mouse. We also noticed that the keyboard layout exhibited more flex than we’d like. A fingerprint reader helps keep private information away from prying eyes, and two buttons (Toshiba Assist and Windows Mobility Center) allowed us to access and tweak system parameters quickly.
Display and Audio
Streaming Hulu episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia looked clear and crisp on the 14.1-inch (1280 x 800-pixel) backlit LED display. Some may find this resolution a bit low considering that a number of 14-inch systems (like the Lenovo ThinkPad T400) feature 1440 x 900-pixel panels, which makes it easier to view open documents side by side. We liked the wide viewing angles, but tilting the R10’s lid forward even slightly began to wash out the visuals (a gripe that we also had with the Toshiba Portégé R500).
Music streamed from Slacker was clear, but the stereo speakers located above the keyboard didn’t crank out loud sound when we turned the old-school volume wheel to its highest level. As with many business notebooks, the R10-S4401 lacks a strong bottom end for replicating bass and other low-frequency sounds. A 3-megapixel webcam and mic are embedded into the bezel above the display for videochatting, which provided respectable (if somewhat washed out) visuals in our office environment.
Ports and Connections
On the right side of the Tecra R10-S4401 you’ll find an Ethernet jack, one USB 2.0 port, a Wi-Fi on/off switch, an ExpressCard slot, and the 8X optical drive. On the left are headphone and microphone jacks, a volume wheel, a VGA port, the second USB port, and an eSATA port that doubles as another USB port that boasts Toshiba’s Sleep-and-Charge technology (this lets you charge USB devices whether the PC is on, off, or in hibernation or sleep modes).
The back of the system is completely free of connections (which prevents users from having to reach around to the back of the machine to plug in devices), and the front of the machine contains a memory card slot that only supports the SD format. A dock connector is located on the bottom of the Tecra R10-S4401.
Performance and Hard Drive
The Tecra R10-S4401 is powered by a 2.26-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP9300 processor and 3GB of RAM (expandable to 4GB) that kept the Vista Business OS running smoothly. The component combo helped the notebook achieve a PCMark Vantage score of 3,490, which is more than 250 points higher than the average thin-and-light system.
On our anecdotal tests, we transcoded a 2-minute-and-16-second MPEG-4 clip to H.264 in 51.7 seconds. Performing the same action while playing our There Will Be Blood DVD took a lengthy 3:47, but we experienced no audio or video skipping during playback.
A small but fast 160GB, 7,200-rpm shock-mounted hard drive aced the LAPTOP Transfer Test with a blazing 25.4 MBps speed, well above the 16.9-MBps average. The Tecra R10-S4401 booted the Vista Business operating system in 1 minute and 6 seconds, which is on a par with typical thin-and-light notebooks.
Thanks to Nvidia’s discrete Quadro NVS 150M GPU (with 128MB of video memory), the Tecra R10-S4401 proved itself to be no graphics slouch. It notched a 3DMark03 score of 5,965, double the category average, and a 3DMark06 score of 1,643 (more than 300 points lower than the Samsung X460). This allowed us to play F.E.A.R. at a very smooth 65 frames per second in autodetect mode (and a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels); this dropped to a still-playable 34 frames per second with the graphics bumped up to a resolution of 1280 x 800. These numbers are very similar to the Samsung X460-44P, which, powered by an Nvidia GeForce 9200M GS (with 256MB of memory), posted scores of 62 fps and 35 fps, respectively.
Wi-Fi and Battery Life
The 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi radio on the Tecra R10-S4401 moved data at a rate of 20.2 Mbps when placed 15 feet away from our access point, but dipped to 16.5 Mbps at 50 feet; this closely matches the wireless performance of other notebooks in this class. Its strong performance made for a pleasurable Web-surfing experience as we were able to quickly dive into our favorite online videos, download podcasts, and stream Slacker Internet radio without a hitch.
Despite containing discrete graphics, the R10-S4401 demonstrated impressive endurance; on the LAPTOP Battery Test, the notebook lasted 4 hours and 23 minutes on a charge (which is also the category average), outpacing the Samsung X460-44P by 5 minutes.
Software and Warranty
In addition to Intel’s vPro technology (which allows IT departments to administer and repair systems remotely), the R10-S4401 is bundled with several programs, including Google Picasa, InterVideo WinDVD, Microsoft Office Professional 2007 (60-day trial), Norton Internet Security 2008 (60-day trial), and Toshiba’s VeriFace facial recognition software.
Toshiba’s 4th-Generation EasyGuard Technology now includes PC Health Monitor software for keeping your PC healthy running in top shape. It offers at-a-glance readings of the system’s remaining power, power consumption, battery health, CPU temperature, internal temperature, fan speed, and hard drive sensor. On our tests, clicking the Hard Disk Drive 3D Sensor allowed us to turn the protection on or off and manually set the movement-detection level. Toshiba covers the notebook with a three-year limited warranty and 24/7 tech support.
Priced at $1,549, the Toshiba Tecra R10-S4401 is one of the better business notebooks we’ve tested, and although we prefer the design and display of the Samsung X460-44P, the Toshiba costs $150 less. Business users who want to travel light without sacrificing performance or battery life will find the R10-S4401 a compelling option.