Toshiba has dropped a thumbstick in between the G and H keys, so you an control the cursor with pushes and pulls if you're not a fan of trackpads. The M10's trackpad is deep seated but no less usable for that, and its own mouse buttons are nicely complemented by a second pair mounted above the trackpad - and so ideally placed for your thumbs when you're steering the pointer with the joystick.
Thumbstick standing proud
The M10's inevitable fingerprint reader sits between the main trackpad buttons - a far better location, we think, than slap bang in the middle of the right-hand wrist-rest area, which is where these devices are often located.
Above the keyboard is the M10's screen. Maybe it's just, now thoroughly accustomed to glossy screens, but the Tecra's seemed a little dark to us. And when we tried it out with bright sunlight right behind us, we were left unconvinced that it's any easy to read than the glossy screened machine we had sat next to it.
The M10 comes pre-loaded with Windows Vista Business, and Toshiba's also thrown in a nice line of utilities designed to make connecting to networks and wireless devices, rustling up a set of recovering discs, managing the hardware, creating a bootable SD card, burning CDs and data discs, and keeping the machine's software up to date, all easier than the operating system makes these tasks.
Toshiba's even included a rather nice DVD player app, one much more attractive than Windows Media Player or many of the third-party players available. Together, Toshiba's apps are a model in bundled utilities that should be available on all PCs.
The keyboard layout's unusual, but just fine to use
Turning to the Tecra's performance, we found it to be no slouch, with the fast memory and mid-range processor rendering it reasonably nippy, though it's no powerhouse. PCMark05's overall rating for the machine wasn't as high as we were expecting, particularly in light of what comparable notebooks have garnered, but that's because if the M10's relatively poor Graphics score.
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.
@ 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!
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.
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!