Some manufacturers, like Dell, believe laptop users, even supposedly non-frivolous business folk, prefer svelte, stylish notebooks. Not so Toshiba, at least if the the Tecra M10 is anything to go by. Toshiba Tecra M10 Toshiba's Tecra M10: the laptop that time forgot? Carry one around, and anyone who sees it will think you've …
You may mock the inclusion of a serial port
But for a lot of business applications it's essential - so much industrial equipment of many many sorts interfaces via RS232, and it's a real pain in the arse that so few laptops have it. USB-serial dongles tend to be very hit and miss.
I have a Tecra A9 (15.4") sat on my desk and it's fairly bulky yes, but nicely specified. I particularly like the 1680x1050 screen resolution. That was only £600 ish though, so 50% more for the 14" model seems slightly poorly judged.
This Dell Latitude D630 I'm using has a serial port
and a seemingly identical layout of trackpad/pointy stick/mouse buttons. No eSATA, mind you, but then it's nowhere near as thick or heavy, and only fairly ugly.
If you'll excuse me, I'm off to reminisce about my first laptop, a Toshiba of some vintage running Win3.11 which was seemingly indestructible (the Toshiba, not Win3.11, which barfed its drivers at least once a month).
I just looked at the back of this 'ere new Dell Lassitude wot I woz given and it's got one too. Not so uncommon then.
Makes sense. In the corp world, printers are shared over the network and USB is de rigeur in the local-to-machine printer world so a parallel port is genuinely redundant.
However, there's a shitload of legacy, sometimes custom and costly to replace bits 'n bobs knocking around in corporate lala land that you need a serial port to talk to. Now, while 99.99% of the users'll never need a serial port, it's still on the "must have" list for a large number of corporate purchasers. I think that Toshiba (and Dell for that matter) know this.
The advantage of all that depth
Is that you can throw these things down the stairs and they survive.
Well I managed it with mine (slightly older Toshiba - but looks to be the same case)
Not a dead pixel or reallocated sector. But it did crack the case and bend the metal screen edges in two places - pliers and gaffer tape sorted that completely
Don't be so dismissive of the serial port on here. I have one on my laptop and I use it quite frequently - there are still a number of devices which use RS-232 as a standard interface (GPS, radio equipment, etc). My previous laptop was erroneously ordered without serial and I had to muddle along with a USB/serial conversion dongle - not ideal.
'Sure stiff is better than floppy, but one-handed operation is better than two.'
Lines like that make Reg reviews things of beauty.
Personally I find the styling of these Toshiba laptops quite pleasing in a stark, functional, minimalist sort of way. Much prefer it to a lot of the flashy, over designed notebooks that you often see.
I just bought an Satellite Pro S300-121 for a staffer, for less than half the price of this model, and I am fairly pleased with it. Externally, it looks almost identical to the review model except it is a little bigger (15.4) and doesn't have a nipple. I have to admit thought that the looks were the last thing on my mind when I bought it.
My mum has a Dell Latitude from work
I think it's a Sempron (i.e. absolute bottom of the range) not an Intel though.
The build quality is piss poor compared to the Tosh sitting on my desk. The high end Dell laptops seem well made, but the lower end ones are horribly flimsy and plasticky and feel like the lid will snap off when you're opening it.
I find Toshibas to be very well made even down to the £300 entry level models, and for this reason they are my first choice/recommendation of laptop in most situations.
what computers are made of... or if they look like bricks. What's inside that matters. The same applies here.
I hate to the bottom of my soul that LED-lit fans that came with my desktop PC, which prevent me from having an otherwise dark bedroom at night. Hell no, I won´t spend another single dime on it to replace the fans for dull unlit orange ones. I just turn it off at night and save some pennies worth of 'leccy instead. Windows take the toll however, because oldish PCs behave a lot like human beings, they may go to sleep at night and maybe won´t wake up the next day. Mine has suffered a few seizures and arrests, only when booting in the morning, proving my point.
As for the ports array, lots of people agree, serial ports are still deal-breakers. The lack of 'em that is.
Tosh hit it right with this model... dull, bulky, won´t attract thieves/burglars while sitting in the passenger seat, with enough weight to be used as a weapon when needed.
It appears they have produced a laptop for working people, i.e. engineers and tech assistants, not the poncy toy of management. Now all we need is one with a separate numeric keypad, and a second serial port.
I too have a Tecra A9 on my desk - I hadn't thought much about it's retro looks other than, yes, it's a bit chunky.
It does have a rotary volume control however and, most startling of all, no blue LEDs. How quaint.
I cannot for the life of me
understand why Toshiba is still in business? They keep churning out the same tired boring machines. Oh and that monstrous eyesore the Qosimo. Who the hell would buy this? Do they enjoy staring at something so completely devoid of the will to live? I sometimes think Toshiba's designer was a man in his eighties who died in 1992, and they have been carrying on with his designs as a sort of misplaced tribute to the man.
If only you got a serial port on a netbook.
As many folk have said here, Serial Ports are damm handy, and although many (all) new networking products allow you to set them up via the network, who in a corporation will plug in an unconfigured router/switch onto there network to set it up? - none thats who.
From my last round of doing network engineering work, I would of killed for somthing like the EEEPC to have serial built in. Because its not high resolution work, its all about can it telnet & charge from your car.
At anyrate, presuming this is aimed at the corporate market, it being ugly makes sence. There is nothing more annoying than an exec that has to much time on there hands deciding that 'that is the laptop I want' because its shiny.
@ Buck Futter
I'll take the one that has the feature set I want, is well made, reliable and has good support available. I couldn't give a flying fuck what it looks like; it's a tool, not a fashion accessory.
Toshiba would be my choice brand of laptop for almost any situation I can think of.
But then I'm one of these engineer types that prizes substance over style every time, some of us are funny like that.
Toshiba, filling the Industry needs, still!!!
sounds like they were listening to the needs of the likes of EON, CISCO, eg,.. heavy industry and telecoms who are bound (even today) to ancient legacy equipment that MUST have RS232 COMMS ports hardwired into the chassis of the laptop, for running SCADA, IOS, and heavy power controls apps that cannot be updated for many reasons to run on anything higher than windows 2000/XP, even some that must be run native in DOS/win98. they simply cannot work through the M$ HAL and must have direct HW control.
for these industrys, they dont give a monkeys about how ultra portable and flimsy it is, they pc must survive in nasty envioments, where buying a bomb proof laptop is too much overkill.
That's it. I want one. No scratch that. I REALLY want one. And so will just about every other person in my division! This machine is just about my dream machine! I have had a gander at the specks and this "I" model is it.
I for one really appreciate the style and form that it has. Just thinking about the labs I visit and all those serial ports, this is a serious answer to all those people who don't pull "9 to 5 in an office" and rarely know more than a couple of hours before hand what they will be facing in the working day/week ahead!
So Many Uses
I have an XPS Gen 1 that looks a lot like that and it's still around after 8 years of my misuse. It's also a step, shield, pry bar, heater, and head rest.
Toshiba fab sucks
I've had 3 Toshs (two M3s and an M9)
Awful build quality and substandard materials....
The trackpad wore through the decorative surface in 4 months use on all 3 - the first m9 had 3 replacement mobos and the battery life sucks despite claims to the contrary.
Only reason I have them is the company I work for insists on these models. Pah!
The M9 now sits idle because it's too flakey to use and I really can't be bothered going through the pain of having the engineers attempt to fix them. On the odd occasion the M9 actually decides to start up, the heat that thing pushes out can be frightening - especially if you happen put your hands over the fan outlet when lifting it.
@ AC 11.07
What the hell do you do to the things?!
I've bought approx 60 Tecras of various sizes and model numbers over the last two years and I can't complain about the build quality or reliability at all. Had to RMA two or three for things like a cracked screen, but that's understandable when the user manages to shut their laptop bag in a revolving door/leave it on the roof of their car and drive off etc, don't you love salesmen eh?. Oh and I had a hard drive go bad on another one which was sorted very quickly, can't complain about a mechanical defect on the part of the HDD manufacturer really.
Contrast this to the HPs that the last incumbent of my job went for - myriad problems with screens going fuzzy, fans failing, trackpad buttons and keyboards becoming unusable, hinges going, motherboards dying, network cards 'burning out' (wtf? This is what HP told me)... I know which I'd rather go for.
And for all the people that are going to jump down my throat, we replace laptops on a 2 year cycle so the HPs were of roughly the same age as the Toshibas, it's not that we'd had them for twice as long. They were comparably priced business oriented laptops.
I'd usually hesitate to use anecdotal evidence in support of my claims that x brand is better than y brand, but I've been responsible for supporting 80 odd laptops (only a few of those sodding HPs to get rid of now) so I have a pretty clear idea of which brand caused me more grief.
I guess in your case AC, you must be one of these people that seems to be very heavy on whatever pieces of technology they get given - such users can never explain why they get through twice as many laptops, Bluetooth headsets, mobile phones etc as everyone else, but they must be doing something to the bloody things!
Sounds pretty much exactly like the *extremely average* M5 I have at present, except with somewhat updated componentry.
What gets me is that for its feature set (average), it weighs a ton, and the battery life is crap. And even with the relatively heavy chassis, the build quality isn't that great. I keep having to replace or tighten the screws underneath, and it's a bloody creaky thing (not as bad as some, but given the weight, you'd expect better). I like the keyboard, but that's about it.