For weary road warriors

For weary road warriors

The Portégé 4010 is a friend to the weary traveller: it weighs little more than two kilograms, including a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination drive, so you'll hardly feel it while running down the concourse to your next flight. Built-in 802.11b and Bluetooth network interfaces let you surf the Internet wirelessly and exchange data with other small devices wirelessly back at the office.

Have a PDA or digital camera with a Secure Digital slot? Then transferring pictures, music, and other data onto the 4010 will be painless thanks to the SD slot above the combo drive. If you need extra battery life or more storage, you're covered there, too: you can swap out the 4010's combo drive for a second battery, or for a second hard drive up to 40GB in size. Finally, the 4010 proves that small doesn't necessarily mean basic and boring. It sounds great; a set of small but powerful stereo speakers jut from the back corners of the keyboard. As well as sounding good, DVD movies looked good on the 12.1-inch screen.

On the other hand, the Portégé 4010 lacks parallel and serial ports. This is the first 933MHz Pentium III-M notebook with 256MB of RAM and the Windows XP Professional operating system that we've tested, but the 4010's overall performance is a little behind other notebooks tested. Like an increasing number of vendors, Toshiba also doesn't include the USB floppy drive as standard.

The 4010 is Toshiba's old Portégé 4000 upgraded with a faster processor, but the company was wise not to change anything else about this winning thin-and-light notebook. It's handsome, with a smart silver and black case. The little keyboard suffers from some drawbacks, including half-size Tab and Caps Lock keys, but it's fairly comfortable to type on and features dedicated Page Up, Page Down, and arrow keys, rare treats on a notebook this small. The mouse buttons, stacked crescents made of a comfortable rubbery-feeling material, work fine in conjunction with the stiff eraserhead pointing device. They're flanked by two smaller buttons you can program to launch applications. We liked being able to close a port cover over the network, modem, and monitor connections on the back. You also get two USB 1.1 ports. You can upgrade both storage and memory yourself, though doing the latter requires that you remove three screws on the bottom to reach the slots beneath the keyboard.

The only false design move is the sloped lip on the base, which looks cool but hides the status lights on the front from view when you're working. A thick printed manual also provided in electronic form covers all the 4010's features.

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