Can Toshiba Tip the Tables in Favor of Tablets?

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Toshiba’s Portege M700 strives to combine the top features of notebooks and tablets into a stylish convertible, Did Toshiba succeed or create a Frankenstein’s monster?

In business, tablet computers and notebook PCs have their specific places. Tablets tend to be used in the warehouse and out in the field, while notebooks are geared toward knowledge workers on the go. Portable PC manufacturers have had it in their heads for some time that combining those devices into a single unit would offer the best of both worlds. But most attempts to date have also offered the worst of the two devices, the smaller screen of a tablet, combined with the heft of a notebook, at a price that would break most budgets.

Toshiba’s latest stab at the convertible PC market comes in the form of the Portege M700. We took a look at the M700-S7002, an $1,800 unit that sports an Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 (2.2GHz) processor, along with 2GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive and a dual-layer DVD+/-RW optical drive.

As convertibles go, the Toshiba is a little on the heavy side at 4.5 pounds, but most convertibles don’t incorporate an optical drive and many of the other features found in Toshiba’s offering.  As notebook computers go, the M700-S7002 is loaded; the unit offers a 12.1-inch WXGA LED widescreen display, fingerprint reader, modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 USB 2.0 ports, FireWire, Bluetooth,  802.11a/g/n wireless, Webcam and a Type II PC Card Slot. The unit also features a solid, full-size keyboard, touch-pad and a plethora of switches, buttons and controls.

Switching from notebook to tablet mode takes little more than a twist of the latchless display lid. The pen for the tablet pops out of a tunnel on the side of the unit. The absence of a latch makes the unit feel a little flimsy, but most users will not experience the lid flipping open on its own. The unit is surprisingly comfortable to use as a tablet, despite the unit’s thickness and weight.

Performancewise, the unit benefits from the combination of 2GB of RAM and the T7500 processor, but graphics performance suffers from the Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100, which uses shared memory. Discrete graphics would surely improve the unit’s performance, but at the cost of battery life and an increased price.

Speaking of battery life, users should expect to get roughly four hours out of the unit with all of the power-saving features enabled. The M700 is chock full of green technology, with environmental certifications galore, such as Energy Star 4.0, EPEAT Gold, and RoHS. Although the T7500 processor is not an ultra-low-voltage unit, the system only consumed 12 watts in an idle state according to our PS3 International Kill-A-Watt Meter. Overall performance of the unit, when equipped with Windows Vista Business Edition, offered a PassMark Rating of 492.7 using Performance Test v6.1 from PassMark software. Toshiba offers a three-year warranty on the system for all components, except for the battery, which has a one-year warranty.

All things considered, the M700 proves to be a decent notebook computer, which can offer tablet features when needed. Ideally, users will use the system mostly in its notebook configuration and then switch to tablet if they so desire. Either way, it combines the best of both worlds without any major downside—certainly a step in the right direction for convertible PCs.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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