We saw some surprisingly business-friendly notebooks last year, from the Dell Vostro V13 to the HP ProBook 5310m. Up until now, though, Toshiba's business designs have been safe, to use a kind word. With the Tecra A11, however, Toshiba's new 15.6-inch business notebook, the company seems to be admitting that buttoned-up professionals want a stylish notebook as much as the next guy.
The A11, which starts at $879, borrows design elements from the NB205, Toshiba's flagship netbook, while packing the latest processors. But has Toshiba closed the gap in design?
Whereas Tecra notebooks used to be gray on the outside and black on the inside, the new A11 is black inside and out, but with varying textures. While the inside has a flat, matte appearance, the durable, textured lid reminds us of the one on the NB205 and, now, the NB305 netbooks. That texture carries over onto the palm rest too.
To me, the new design is an improvement, but still not quite as stylish as some of the business notebooks Dell and HP have delivered over the past six to twelve months. I think even rounding out those edges a bit, making the box less, well, boxy, would have helped.
A few notes on specs: the A11 will be offered with Intel's new Core i3 and Core i7 processors, as well as optional discrete Nvidia graphics. In addition to the fingerprint reader shown in the picture above, it has a DisplayPort and 3 USB ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA port and one of which contains Toshiba's sleep-and-charge technology, which allows the port to charge gadgets when the laptop is asleep.