Toshiba Tecra M2 P-M 735 review

Price when reviewed

Toshiba knows a thing or two about style these days – the Tecra M2 is yet another example of just how far business notebooks have come since the days of the chunky beige Satellites. The lid is silver, like Fujitsu Siemens’ V2020, while the rest is charcoal black – a combination that impressed our judges this month.

Toshiba Tecra M2 P-M 735 review

And although it’s a little pricey, the M2 is good value for money. If you were to open it up, you’d find a 1.7GHz Pentium M CPU and 512MB of PC2700 RAM. Usefully, there’s a free SODIMM socket in the base to add more.

You’ll also find discrete graphics in the form of nVidia’s GeForce FX Go5200. These are good enough for the odd 3D game, but not a patch on Acer’s Mobility Radeon 9700.

The main benefit of the Tecra is its portability. It weighs only 2.2kg and is virtually the same size as the Dell D610. It won’t break your back to carry it everywhere with you and it’s well built, so should stand up to the occasional knock. You should find the battery lasts a good while too: despite the light weight, the Tecra managed about one hour, 40 minutes of intensive use, and almost four hours under light use.

On the right-hand side of the M2 are two USB 2 ports, a VGA output and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. Considering the price, it’s disappointing not to see a DVD writer, but at least there are two Type II PC Card slots (which can also be used as a Type III), mini-FireWire and a parallel port. Another bonus is the S-Video output.

Both 802.11b/g and Bluetooth radios are integrated, and there’s a switch to turn them on or off on the front panel, along with an infrared port. Usefully, there’s a hardware volume control and, like the IBM T42, Toshiba includes both touchpad and trackpoint pointer controls. Both are reasonably responsive, but the keyboard layout isn’t brilliant. The Enter key is a half-height affair, while the spacebar is also shorter than usual, but you quickly get used to them. A bigger annoyance is the fan, which is noisy and spins up even when doing basic office tasks – something none of the others on test suffer from.

The 14.1in TFT is perfectly adequate in terms of quality and resolution, and Toshiba bundles the useful Microsoft OneNote 2003. A single year of collect-and-return warranty is very poor at this price – Sony provides this with the B1VP – but if you can find it cheaper, the Toshiba is still a great piece of hardware for business users.

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