Toshiba Breaks New Tablet PC Ground

By Anne Chen  |  Print this article Print

Review: The Protégé R400 offers an impressive 12-inch widescreen display, as well as innovative features such as wireless docking, but it's pricey and performs relatively poorly.

With Apple MacBook-like looks, a fantastic widescreen display and the kind of portability usually found in Lenovo ThinkPads, Toshiba's Protégé R400 is the most groundbreaking Tablet PC eWEEK Labs has tested. Unfortunately, users will pay for the innovation—in terms of both price and performance.

Announced at the International CES and set to begin shipping Jan. 30, the Protégé R400 is a 12.1-inch Tablet PC running Microsoft's Windows Vista Ultimate operating system. The Protégé R400 weighs 3.7 pounds and features a 12-inch widescreen backlit LED display—one of the nicest screens we've seen.

Running the Ultimate version of Vista, the Protégé R400 has the functionality found in both Windows Media Center and in Windows Tablet PC. The Protégé R400 will be the first notebook to take advantage of Microsoft's Active Notifications capability, which enables real-time e-mail and calendaring notifications via a digital display on the front edge of the unit. This secondary display, which Toshiba calls the Personal Information Assistant, can display notifications even when the notebook is off, via Wi-Fi or an EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) wireless broadband connection.

However, armed with Intel's 1.2GHz U2500 Core Duo processor, the Protégé R400 barely has enough oomph to run Windows Vista Ultimate. You can try to boost performance with 2GB of RAM, but the Protégé R400 is best-suited for office productivity suite applications and Web surfing.

That said, the Protégé R400 is the first laptop that can be wirelessly docked via UWB (Ultra-Wideband) technology. Toshiba's optional Wireless Dock, which also supports Wireless Digital Video, will be available in the second quarter of 2007.

eWEEK Labs' evaluation unit was configured with the 1.2GHz U2500 Core Duo processor, 2GB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. Our unit also included the Personal Information Assistant, as well as the optional external USB-DVD-SuperMulti drive, Intel Wireless a/b/g and integrated EvDO. This configuration is priced at $3,499—making it one of the most expensive convertible notebooks on the market. The Protégé R400 has a starting price of $2,599.

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.com's for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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