Toshiba Tecra R10-112 review

10 Feb 2009

Plenty of business features and reasonable power, but the Tecra is let down by poor design

Price when reviewed: 
909(£890 inc VAT)
4

The race to secure the corporate dollar is reflected in the number and quality of business notebooks that have appeared over the past several months: the A-Listed Sony VAIO VGN-SR19XN has been joined by the Lenovo ThinkPad T500 and, more recently, the Dell Latitude E6400.

Toshiba's latest, the Tecra R10-112, has a list of credentials that immediately places it in this esteemed company: Windows Vista Business, Toshiba's EasyGuard security software, draft-n wireless and a generous three-year warranty. There are also dozens of proprietary utilities - including password management, data backup and shock protection tools - that should, in theory, make the Tecra both easier to use and more secure.

However, we found that some services were more miss than hit: the hard disk's vibration protection is undoubtedly a good idea, but we found it constantly intrusive until we lowered the sensitivity. The face recognition software failed to recognise our features, too, despite several attempts. Other inclusions, such as the fingerprint reader and spill-resistant keyboard, work well even if they're par for the course in business notebooks. Draft-n wireless is included as well as Bluetooth 2.1, and a TPM chip is a welcome inclusion. Sadly, though, there's no embedded 3G.

A reasonably capable laptop lurks underneath the numerous security features. The Intel Core 2 Duo P9300 processor runs at 2.26GHz and scored a respectable 1.07 in our 2D benchmarks; that's slightly slower than its main rivals, which scored between 1.13 and 1.19, but powerful enough to handle a host of work-related applications. The inclusion of Intel's 5100WLAN chip and GMA 4500HD graphics also mean that the Tecra R10 adheres to Intel's Centrino 2 platform. A 160GB hard disk and 2GB of RAM is decent, although not outstanding - those running memory intensive applications may prefer the 3GB VAIO.

While the specification is as capable as any of the business laptops we've seen recently, the chassis is more of a mixed bag. The 14in panel has a reasonable resolution of 1,280 x 800 and is coated with a non-reflective film that works well; in our bright office, we could use the Tecra without any hint of annoying glare or intrusive reflections. It may be a small touch, but it's an undoubted boon for a laptop that will often be used beneath fluorescent lights.

It's a well-equipped notebook, too. The right-hand side crams in a DVD writer, wireless switch, Ethernet and USB port as well as both Smart Card and ExpressCard/54 slots. A card reader is secreted in the front of the chassis, and a VGA output, physical volume control and another USB port adorn the left. There's also a combined eSATA and USB port which adds further versatility, and a port replicator slot, although the replicators themselves start at £68 exc VAT.

The Tecra is reasonably sturdy, too. It can't quite match up to the style and quality offered by the VAIO or the Lenovo's sheer toughness, but the screen doesn't flex much under pressure and the wrist-rest didn't falter under duress, either. This is especially impressive given the mere 1.86kg bulk of the Toshiba, with only the VAIO managing to manage anywhere near the same weight - the Lenovo and Dell Latitude both soared over 2kg and will prove far more noticeable in a briefcase.

Despite the decent design and impressive weight, some of the fundamentals are lacking. The keyboard doesn't suffer from any oddly placed or shrunken keys, but it does have an annoying lightness of touch and a squashy, non-committal response. It's no match for the Scrabble-style layout of the VAIO, or the more traditional quality seen on the majority of Lenovo's ThinkPad range.

Details

Price ex VAT £790
Price inc VAT £909
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 3 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 337 x 252 x 28mm (WDH)
Weight 1.860kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo U9300
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Memory type DDR2

Screen and video

Screen size 14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,280
Resolution screen vertical 800
Resolution 1280 x 800
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 4500
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 160GB
Hard disk usable capacity 149GB
Internal disk interface SATA
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Battery capacity 5,100mAh
Replacement battery price ex VAT £110
Replacement battery price inc VAT £127

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 1
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader yes
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 4hr 24min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 24min
Overall application benchmark score 1.07
Office application benchmark score 1.08
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.21
Encoding application benchmark score 1.02
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.95

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows Vista Business
OS family Windows Vista