Toshiba – Tecra M9L-12T review

Santa Rosa business laptop with security features
Photo of Toshiba – Tecra M9L-12T
£1,070

Toshiba’s Tecra range of business notebooks may not be as well known as its Satellite range, but the Tecra product line is similarly being refreshed with the latest technologies on a constant basis. The latest additions to the Tecra line-up are the A9 and M9 series. The M9L-12T sits bang in the middle of the six-model M9 family and uses the latest Intel Santa Rosa mobile technology.

The latest Centrino platform, code-named Santa Rosa, features a new Core 2 Duo processor with an 800MHz FSB instead of the previous core’s 667MHz, and a host of onboard power-saving features including dynamically switchable FSB speeds (so when the notebook is in a low power state, such as in DVD playback, the FSB throttles back), EDS (Enhanced Deeper Sleep) and Dynamic Acceleration Technology, an advanced version of Intel’s Smart Cache technology.

Also new is the second part of the trilogy, the 965GM/PM Express chipset that includes a new graphics engine – the GMA X3100 – which is fully Vista compliant (so you can run Vista’s funky Aero feature), supports DirectX 10 and, perhaps best of all, supports HDMI output with HDCP compliance and can playback 1080p content.

The final part of the Centrino total package is the updated Wi-Fi networking that supports the latest Draft 802.11n in addition to a, b and g specifications.

Powering the M12L-9T is a T7100 Intel Core 2 Duo clocked at 1.8GHz and backed by 2GB of DDR2 memory running at 667MHz. This is slower than the FSB, but even so the M12L-9T is no slouch in the performance stakes. If you feel the need to add more memory the laptop supports up to 4GB.

Finished in the now seemingly standard corporate silver and dark grey finish, the M12L-9T weighs in at around 3kg (including the power brick) so it’s at the upper end of what is comfortable to carry around all day. The keyboard is well positioned and well built, feeling responsive when typing, and lovers of both trackpads and trackpoints are taken care of as Toshiba has provided both. For extra security there is a fingerprint reader built into the wrist pad.

The 14.1-inch, WXGA, widescreen TFT screen has a native resolution of 1,200 by 800 pixels and is powered by Intel’s GMA X3100 integrated graphics solution, using up to 358MB of the system memory, but don’t expect much in the way of games play.

Storage is provided in the shape of a 120GB hard drive, which is about the average size for a laptop hard drive these days and gives a reasonable amount of space even after the pre-installed Vista Business OS and a whole host of Toshiba utilities have been loaded.

To keep the hard drive as free as possible there is an 8x, dual layer, dual format DVD burner installed in the SelectBay in the right-hand side of the chassis. This is joined by two USB 2.0 ports and the LAN port. The opposite chassis side is dominated by a cooling grille and just houses another USB port and a PC Card slot. There is also an SD Card slot but, disappointingly, no multi-function flash card reader.

As well as the aforementioned 802.11a/b/g/Draft N wireless LAN, which can be switched on and off as required to help conserve battery life, you also get Bluetooth, 10/100/1,000Mbps wired Gigabit Ethernet and a 56kbps modem, so connecting the M12L-9T to the outside world should present few problems. Toshiba backs the M12L-9T with a 3-year international warranty.

Company: Toshiba

Contact: 0870 444 8944


Verdict
A no-nonsense corporate laptop that uses the latest notebook technology to good effect. Its bundle of Toshiba utilities and security features should give peace of mind to the mobile road warrior.