Toshiba – Portégé M750 review

impressive tablet PC, but it's not cheap
Photo of Toshiba – Portégé M750
£1,049 + VAT

Toshiba is no stranger to the tablet PC and has been pushing out models under its Portégé brand for a number of years now. The latest release is the Portégé M750 (we’re looking at the M750-10K version here), which features the usual flip and twist screen, allowing you to use it either as a tablet or a standard notebook.

With its rather dull grey livery and chunky chassis, Toshiba’s latest creation won’t win any style awards, but it is sturdily built and the hinge on which the screen swivels feels robust. We always prefer substance over style, but it’s a shame Toshiba didn’t make a bit more of an effort with the design.

Three USB ports are dotted around the chassis (one of which doubles up as an eSATA port), along with a mini FireWire port, Gigabit LAN, PC Card slot and a multi-format card reader. Meanwhile, the keyboard has well-spaced keys and feels good to type on, although we did notice a bit of flexing, which may irritate those with a heavy typing style.

The Portégé M750 features a 12.1-inch, LED-backlit display with a native resolution of 1,200 x 800 pixels. Using the included stylus, which slots neatly into the side of the chassis when not in use, it’s a delight to scribble notes on. It also copes impressively well during outdoor use.

The 160GB hard drive ticks away at 5,400rpm and should provide enough storage for most users. It also benefits from Toshiba’s HDD protection tool, which will shut down the drive head as soon as it detects sudden movement (you can turn this off if it causes trouble when on a less-than-smooth train journey, for example). Should you need to archive any files to free up space, the built-in DVD writer will help you out.

802.11n wireless is available thanks to an Intel WiFi Link 5100 card under the hood. You also get built-in Bluetooth.

Powering the notebook is an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor with a clock speed of 2.26GHz. As expected, this is backed up by a total of 2GB of memory. Few will purchase a tablet PC with a view to playing the latest 3D games, so it’s no surprise Toshiba has gone with Intel’s cheap and cheerful GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics.

What does this mean in terms of performance? Well, the pre-installed Vista Business certainly runs smoothly and, as the score of 4,599 in PCmark05 indicates, it will be able to cope with most business-related applications you’ll care to throw at it.

Needless to say, Intel’s integrated graphics meant the Portégé M750 struggled in 3Dmark05, with a score of just 3,315 at its native resolution of 1,280 x 800, and 1,390 when run at 1,024 x 768. A gaming notebook this is not.

Decent battery life is obviously important for any tablet PC, so we were interested to see how long the Portégé M750 could last away from the mains. There’s no extended battery option, so you’re stuck with the six-cell unit that ships as standard.

In our tests, this managed to keep the notebook’s lights on for three hours and six minutes when running at full pelt. Scale back your usage, turn off power-sapping features such as Wi-Fi and dim the screen, and you can expect this to increase to over four hours, which isn’t at all bad.

Considering the sturdy chassis, large screen and built-in optical drive, the fact Toshiba’s managed to keep the total weight down to 2kg is quite impressive. That said, although 2kg won’t cause you too much trouble when carrying it around in a notebook bag, it will feel more like 20kg if you’re scribbling notes on it while standing up for more than half an hour or so.

Toshiba includes its usual array of software utilities, along with a copy of Microsoft’s excellent OneNote 2007, which allows you to keep track of all the notes you’ve jotted down. And although Vista Business is pre-installed, you can revert to XP using the included recovery disc.

Company: Toshiba

Contact: 0844 847 8944


Verdict
There's plenty to like about the Portégé M750-10K: it's well-built, great to scribble notes on and has a reasonably fast processor. However, at just over £1,200 including VAT, it's also pretty expensive, so you need to be absolutely sure you'll make full use of its tablet features before parting with your cash. And although it's clearly aimed at business users, we were hoping for a slightly more stylish design.