Toshiba Portg M700-S7002 Review

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$1799

Pros: Touch and pen input; Fast performance; Good battery life; Strong wireless throughput

Cons: Intrusive volume wheel placement; Bland, thick chassis

Verdict: This convertible offers road warriors plenty of computing punch and a smooth tablet experience.

The Toshiba Portg M700-S7002 is like the Volvo of tablet notebooks; it won't win any style points, but it's reliable, sturdy, and gets the job done. A convertible featuring a screen with both an active digitizer for pen- and touch-input capability, the M700-S7002 also comes with the business ruggedness that mobile professionals demand. It may not have the panache of other tablets, but those who use it won't be disappointed.

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Bulky but Durable Design

Weighing 4.6 pounds, the black and titanium-silver M700-S7002 is far lighter than it appears and feels comfortable when held in the crook of your arm in tablet mode. At 1.6 inches thick, it's a little chunky for our tastes, but the 12.0 x 9.4-inch footprint makes it small enough for easy portability. The keyboard is spacious enough to enable comfortable touch typing, but the touchpad is on the small side.

Toshiba's third-generation EasyGuard protection technology safeguards the M700-S7002 from spills and bumps through the use of its spill-resistant keyboard, magnesium-alloy chassis, display panel absorbers, accelerometer, and a shock-mounted hard drive.

Toshiba Portg M700 Display and Audio

The 12.1-inch (1280 x 800-pixel resolution) matte finish display is bright and colorful and replicated flesh tones well in our Rush Hour 3 DVD. We experienced some minor glare when holding the tablet at certain angles, but it wasn't too distracting.

The volume wheel, placed on the front edge, is awkward to use when the system is in standard notebook mode; we kept brushing against it and altering the volume while using the touchpad. When the M700-S7002 was in tablet mode, however, this was no longer a problem.

Tablet Experience

In tablet mode, we navigated Windows Vista Business menus with a finger and crafted notes and pictures in Windows Journal with the included digital pen. The handwriting recognition software was smart enough to instantly recognize the vast majority of our scribbles, including Web addresses, except for a few instances when our handwriting was a bit too sloppy (you can also input text using a responsive on-screen keyboard). The system can learn to adapt to your unique handwriting, which is a godsend for those with less than perfect penmanship.

We like that you can scroll Web pages by swiping with your finger; this feature worked well on our tests, even with a very light touch. Finger and pen flicks were also responsive. In general, the tablet features felt very natural and intuitive, much like taking notes on paper.

You'll find a row of buttons along the right side of the display bezel that opens Windows Mobility Center (which lets you adjust the system's display brightness and volume, and view system settings) and Toshiba's configuration center (where you can adjust security settings and wireless connections). There is also a small thumbstick for navigating menus.

Portg M700 Features

The Portg M700-S7002 is pretty well equipped for the price. You get a 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 5,400-rpm 160GB hard drive. This convertible features three USB ports, as well as FireWire, Ethernet, VGA connections, plus a 7-in-1 memory card reader. Unlike earlier Toshiba tablets, this one lacks built-in mobile broadband, but you can always plug a modem card into the PC Card slot.

A 1.3-megapixel webcam let us enjoy Web chats with friends and colleagues, but the visuals, as with most integrated webcams, lacked vibrancy. An 8X DVD+/-RW optical drive is housed in the modular bay that can be swapped for a secondary 100GB hard drive ($269) or to bring the system's weight down to 4.1 pounds.

Convertible Speedster

We enjoyed a silky smooth computing experience with the M700-S7002 when playing music, working in documents, and surfing the Web. The integrated X3100 graphics served up a 3DMark03 score of 1,795, which isn't impressive but is plenty good for business use. Still, it's 52 points higher than the Fujitsu Lifebook T4200, a similarly configured, $1,750 system that won an Editors' Choice award.

The system produced a decent MobileMark 2007 score of 132, and the six-cell battery lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes on a charge, which is good but just shy of the average for a thin-and-light system. For even longer life, you can add a secondary six-cell slice battery ($179) that bumps the endurance time to 9.9 hours.

The 802.11a/g/n radio pushed data along at a brisk 17.5 Mbps at 15 feet away from our access point and 16.1 Mbps at 50 feet.

Business-Friendly Security

The M700-S7002 comes preloaded with a wealth of software, including CompuTrace LoJack for recovering the notebook should it get lost or stolen, Google Desktop, Microsoft Office OneNote 2007, and TPM circuitry for enhanced security. Thankfully, the PC is relatively bloatware-free, save for the 30-day subscription to McAfee Internet Security Suite and a 60-day subscription to Microsoft Office Professional 2007. Toshiba covers the system with a three-year limited warranty and 24/7 tech support.

Verdict

Priced at $1,799, the Toshiba Portg M700-S7002 is a very good choice for road warriors who demand power, portability, and the flexibility of having both touch and pen input. Although it's a bit on the thick side, the M700-S7002 can stand up to business travelers.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
CPU 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500
Operating System MS Windows Vista Business
RAM 2GB
RAM Upgradable to 4GB
Hard Drive Size 160GB
Hard Drive Speed 5,400rpm
Display Size 12.1
Native Resolution 1280x800
Optical Drive DVDRW SuperDrive
Optical Drive Speed 8X
Graphics Card Intel GMA X3100
Video Memory 251MB
Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.0
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone
Ports (excluding USB) Firewire
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
Ports (excluding USB) VGA
Ports (excluding USB) Modem
Ports (excluding USB) Microphone
USB Ports 3
Card Slots PC Card
Card Slots 7-1 card reader
Warranty/Support Three-year limited warranty/24/7 toll-free tech support
Size 12.0 x 9.4 x 1.6 inches
Weight 4.6 pounds
Company Website http://www.toshibadirect.com