Toshiba – Tecra M11-11M review

business-focussed laptop powered by a Core i7 processor
Photo of Toshiba – Tecra M11-11M
£849 + VAT

If you like your notebooks to have a bit of panache, you’ll no doubt loathe the design of the Tecra M10 from Toshiba. With a black, plastic chassis that’s devoid of any glitziness whatsoever, this is a notebook that’s clearly designed for business folk.

What it lacks in style, though, it more than makes up for in terms of raw processing power. The Tecra M11-11M model, which we’re reviewing here, has an Intel Core i7-620M processor beating away inside it at 2.6GHz. And thanks to a bit of wizardry from Intel’s Turbo Boost technology, the dual-core CPU leaps up to 3.3GHz when running processor-intensive applications.

4GB of DDR3 memory is supplied, but with the installed Windows 7 Professional operating system being of the 32-bit variety, the Tecra M11 can only put just under 3GB of this to use. If Windows XP Professional is more your thing, a quick downgrade can be performed using the included DVD.

While the processor isn’t short on power, the same can’t be said for the laptop’s 3D credentials. With only the integrated graphics chipset to call on, the Tecra M11 certainly won’t thank you for running 3D games; again, this highlights the fact that this laptop is aimed at the corporate sector.

In PCMark05, the Tecra managed to pick up a very respectable overall score of 6,790 with 8,138 in the CPU section. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t do so well in PCMark05′s Graphics test, with a score of 2,904.

Of course, a fast processor has an impact of battery life, and this is one area where the Tecra M11 suffers. When we ran it at full steam with wireless on and brightness at full, the 55Wh battery could only keep the lights on for just over an hour.

If you reduce the brightness, switch off the wireless when not required and generally take things much easier, you can expect to double this figure or perhaps even get close to three hours. It’s not great, though, and we were hoping for longer battery life, especially since the laptop’s 2.4kg weight means it’s not too heavy to take on the road.

Being a laptop with a 14-inch screen, the 1,366 x 768 native resolution is what we expected. It’s also refreshing to see Toshiba has resisted the temptation to coat the display with a glossy layer; this means colours don’t look quite as vivid as the vast majority of laptops out there, but the upside is reflections are kept to a minimum.

As far as connectivity goes, three USB ports are joined by a card reader and 34mm ExpressCard slot; the USB port on the left side of the chassis also doubles up as an eSATA port. Slightly less common is the Mini DisplayPort connector; similar to HDMI, this allows for audio and video to be passed to a compatible display via a single cable.

Storage comes in the form of a 320GB hard drive that, unlike most laptop drives, clocks along at a pacey 7,200rpm. There’s also a DVD writer located on the right side of the chassis. Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless are also present, but Toshiba couldn’t find room for an integrated mobile broadband module, which is a shame.

Toshiba’s done a good job with the keyboard. Each key has a nice, semi-rough texture and there’s decent spacing between them. We also noticed very little flex to the keyboard during testing. Perhaps our only complaint would be the Enter key, which has been slimmed down and therefore takes a bit of getting used to.

Sat slap-bang in the middle of the keyboard is a trackpoint control. Although most users will simply ignore this, those migrating from a Thinkpad will take great pleasure in using it. Toshiba’s also supplied a second set of mouse buttons to be used in conjunction with the trackpoint.

A fingerprint reader sits in between the two buttons located just beneath the standard trackpad. Although convenient in that it allows you to logon with a simple finger swipe, this doesn’t actually boost security since if someone knows your password they can still logon in the normal manner.

Company: Toshiba

Contact: 0844 847 8944


Verdict
We like the Tecra M11's no-nonsense design and it certainly feels like it could withstand a bit of rough treatment. The Core i7 processor also provides plenty of raw processing power, making it pretty darn quick. There are a few issues with it, though, most notably its lacklustre battery life. What's more, the i7 processor pushes up its price a fair whack, and better value can be had by opting for one of the cheaper Tecra M11 models such as the Core i3-driven Tecra M11-11K, which retails for around £649 + VAT.