Let’s get one thing out of the way right at the start. If you want a laptop that will make your friends coo with envy when they see it, the Toshiba Tecra A11 isn’t it. There’s no wow factor here in the visuals department.
And now we think about it, the build quality is actually a bit suspect too, with a fairly flexible lid that might not stand having very much sat on top of it when the laptop is closed. Not that you’d ever put things on top of a closed laptop, obviously…
Still, if you can live with the looks and build shortcomings there is lots to like here. Not least an Intel Core i5 560M processor in the top-of-the-ange Tecra A11-EH model (£935 ex VAT) we reviewed, dropping to a Core i3 in the lowest-priced version.
This is accompanied by 3GB of RAM, Windows 7 Professional 32-bit, a 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive, and even 3G support. You also get, of course, the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet.
The ports and connectors aren’t bad either, with three USB ports – plus a fourth, which is a combination USB/eSATA port. There’s also an ExpressCard slot, SmartCard reader, SD card slot and a mini DisplayPort. There is an optical drive too, and a fingerprint sensor on the wrist rest just beneath the trackpad, as well as a webcam above the screen.
One annoyance is that the SD card slot, which is situated on the front edge of the chassis, is a bit fiddly to reach. Toshiba has decided to stylise the Tecra A11 and make it look a bit thinner by giving the front edge an inward curve. That’s all well and good – but it does mean the card reader is rather tucked away. We had to tilt the notebook up to find the card reader slot. Over time you may get used to finding it by touch, but initially this is quite an irritation.
Cursor, cursor everywhere…
There are two ways of manipulating the cursor on screen. In addition to the touchpad, there’s a small, blue button that sits between the G, H and B keys, which you can use alongside two buttons nestling beneath the space bar. It’s the kind of dual pointing arrangement Lenovo likes to use in its notebooks, and it’s often regarded as a business-friendly arrangement.
Screen and keyboard are well made. The 15.6in, 1366×768 screen has a non-shiny, non-reflective finish – which we tend to like for the fatc that it’s easier to work on in brightly lit environments, but which might not appeal if you’re very into multimedia. But if that’s your interest, you’d probably choose different specifications anyway.
The keyboard is relatively large and comfortable under the fingers, though if you are a heavy typist you might find the slight flex it exhibits unnerving. Typists with a lighter touch may well get on fine. One more thing: The Toshiba Tecra A11 weighs 2.5kg, so it might not be the laptop to choose if you want to carry it about a lot.
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- Decent spec; fingerprint sensor for the security-conscious.
- Chunky design, with rather more flex in the lid than we'd like to see.
The Toshiba Tecra A11 won't come out top of the class in a charm school, but it does a decent job and the internal specifications are perfectly acceptable.