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Toshiba gets tough with notebooks

Coffee-repelling, impact-beating Tecras launched

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Toshiba today launched a new line of business-oriented notebooks, claiming the systems offer better connectivity, data security and reliability than rival products.

Notebooks equipped with the EasyGuard system are intended to appeal to IT departments fed up with fixing or replacing damaged laptops. The new machines feature sealed keyboards to protect more valuable components from drink spillages - sufficient, at least, to "safeguard the notebook from certain low-volume spills and gives users several minutes to close any open files and turn off the machine". They also feature rubber corners to limit the effect of impacts.

Following on from recent IBM and Apple notebook releases, the Toshiba machines contain movement sensors to allow them to detect sudden falls the better to protect their delicate insides from the inevitable contact with the floor by parking the hard drive heads, for instance. There's also a shock-absorber to minimise the vibrational effect of drops.

To protect data better, EasyGuard systems contain a Trusted Platform Module-compatible data encryption chip to scramble data as it's written to the hard drive and to put it right when it's read again. Unlike Dell's recently launched TPM-compatible notebooks, Toshiba's offerings use a USB Flash drive or SD Card to contain the decryption keys rather than a smart card.

Finally, to improve connectivity, the Centrino-based notebooks will ship with ConfigFree, a graphical Wi-Fi connection tool that Toshiba claims makes it easier to hook up to other computers and to wireless networks. The software also allows users to swap files over a Bluetooth link.

The notebooks incorporate three antennae - one for Bluetooth, two for Wi-Fi - in the screen section to better pick up signals from other wireless devices.

Toshiba is shipping a range of Tecra notebooks - the A3, A4, S2 and M3 - with EasyGuard technology built in, along with a new Portégé, the M300, that incorporates the system. All five systems are offered in a variety of configurations. The M300s are priced from £999, the Tecra M3s from £1649 and the S2s from £699, and the A4s from £699. Tecra S2 pricing was not available at press-time. ®

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