The Toshiba Portege M700 (PPM70A-0G301G) is a great notebook that provides connectivity options such as HSDPA and draft-N wireless — which are great features for road warriors shopping for a tablet. Unfortunately, it isn't quite worth its very high asking price of $4180 because of 3G provider limitations and a screen with a very limited viewing angle.
The Toshiba features a 12.1in screen with a native resolution of 1280x800 that has excellent handwriting and smart-pen recognition. The M700 will also do a pretty good job of recognising your fingers instead of the pen. Calibrating the screen through Vista's Tablet settings is easy, but there are two 1mm sections on the left and right sides of the screen that don't recognise touches.
As is the case with most tablets, with the notable exception of the Fujitsu LifeBook T2010 (3.5G), the Portege's screen can only be rotated in a clockwise direction. It also has a small viewing angle; sitting even slightly to the side of the device will make it hard to use. Although the screen itself feels slightly fragile, two brackets anchor it in place when used as a standard notebook screen, providing extra stability.
Those wanting to use this device on the go will appreciate its portability, with its weight coming in at a mere 2kg without the power supply and 2.5kg with it included. The Toshiba also lasted 1hr 55min in our DVD rundown tests, which is a great result for such a feature-packed device.
An interesting feature that is starting to become more common on Toshiba notebooks is the 'Sleep and Charge' functionality found in two of the three USB 2.0 ports. This allows compatible devices, such as cameras or music players, to be powered from the USB port even when the laptop is turned off.
Not only does the M700 have the latest Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n wireless connectivity, but 3G HSDPA is also available to those with an activated Telstra account and SIM card. Unfortunately Telstra Bigpond is the only service currently available. Those limited to a dial-up Internet connection will appreciate the 56Kbps modem. Bluetooth 2.0 devices can also connect to the device, allowing peripherals such as wireless headsets to be used.
Stylistically speaking, the Toshiba is quite plain. With a gunmetal grey body and a utilitarian design, it won't be turning any heads. Many business users won't mind this, however.
The system is run by a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 CPU and 2GB of DDR2 RAM, and it uses a 160GB hard drive that spins at 5400rpm. The T8300 is a great processor, and this was shown during our iTunes testing, where we convert 53min of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s. The time of 1min 12sec was in line with what we expected.
Our WorldBench 6 tests returned a result of 74, which means that most office programs such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint will run smoothly and multitask without a hitch, but more hardware-intensive tasks such as editing with Adobe Photoshop will cause problems.
Gamers looking for good graphics should also steer clear, with the notebook's graphics provided by the GMA X3100 component on the motherboard. The 3DMark06 score of 554 means that even older games like F.E.A.R. will be nearly impossible to play, while most modern games won't have a hope of running. Having said that, the Portege is designed for crunching numbers in airport lounges or taking down notes while attending seminars, not slaying monsters or fragging friends in games.
There is a whole range of expandability options, including a PC Card slot on the left-hand side of the device. A FireWire port is located on the front of the device, next to the microphone and headphone ports. On the right-hand side of the laptop is a dual-layer DVD-RW drive that sits below a 3-in-1 card reader (SD, MS, xD). A non-'Sleep and Charge' USB 2.0 port is located on the rear of the device, next to the D-Sub port and AC connection.