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Toshiba Tecra R10-10H review

Toshiba has a strong reputation in laptops and its Tecra range is key to that. But does this latest model do enough to keep up with the fast moving pack?

The chassis shares the familiar silver styling of the rest of the Tecra range and, while it's not particularly ostentatious, it doesn't look bad at all: sleek, modern and without clutter. Grip the R10, though, and things take a turn for the worse. The 14in, 1440 x 900 screen is one of the flimsiest we've seen, bending left and right with the slightest provocation and distorting the desktop when minimal pressure is applied.

The screen's quality, meanwhile, is decent but nothing special; the resolution is resolutely standard for 14in laptops and, while it does appear slightly washed out, with colours poorly reproduced at extreme high and low ends of the scale, it's nothing that'll stop you working unless you're doing precise image editing that demands perfect colour reproduction.

The rest of the Tecra's chassis is little better, at least with regards to build quality. The wrist-rest is squashy and the keyboard, while reasonably comfortable, lacks the firm and positive action of the best Lenovo ThinkPad machines. Instead, the Toshiba's keyboard is too squashy and feels cheap and, even if the layout is entirely conventional, better quality can be easily found elsewhere.

The trackpad feels slick and is paired with two light, responsive buttons but, again, it's not without fault the pad itself, for instance, is too small for our liking.

Thankfully, an impressive selection of ports and sockets is scattered around the Tecra's frame. The usual suspects, such as three USB hubs, headphone and microphone jacks and D-SUB outputs are joined by an eSATA socket, ExpressCard/54 and SmartCard slots as well as physical wireless internet and volume controls.

On the bottom of the machine is a socket for a port replicator which, although offering parallel and serial ports, D-SUB and DVI-I outputs, six USB ports and an Ethernet socket, will set you back 145 exc. VAT. Considering that little is available here that isn't available on the main laptop, it seems a tad expensive.

It's difficult to see why Toshiba is demanding almost 1,500 for the R10: aside from the SSD, there's little inside the Tecra that would justify such an outlay. More power and battery life are available from competing machines for significantly less cash, and other business notebooks offer similar ranges of features and proprietary software, as well as equally good warranties. In the face of stiff, cheaper competition, the Tecra range is now looking distinctly long in the tooth.

Verdict

It offers decent power, a good range of features and a solid laptop experience, but Toshiba’s laptop ruins its own reputation with a high price. When competitors outstrip the Tecra in every area for far less cash, it’s difficult to find any reason to splash out on this latest Toshiba.

Processor: 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP9400

Memory: 4GB 800MHz DDR2 RAM

Storage: 128GB SSD

Graphics: Intel GMA 4500M HD graphics

Ports: 3 x USB, VGA output, eSATA, ExpressCard/54, SmartCard, Gigabit Ethernet,

Connectivity: 802.11b/g + draft-n WLAN, HSDPA

OS: Windows Vista Business

Warranty: 3yr international warranty

Dimensions: 337 x 252 x 31mm (WxDxH)

Weight: 2.1kg

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