Tecra M7: Notebook With Tablet PC Bonus

Review: Toshiba product offers tablet functionality but poor battery life

Toshibas Tecra M7 is for users who want a good notebook system with some tablet functionality. Weighing in at 5.9 pounds and sporting a 14.1-inch widescreen display, the Tecra M7 is large and powerful enough for everyday computing, but it lacks the battery performance of its competitors.

The Tecra M7 is a convertible tablet PC and comes with Microsofts Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 installed. The Tecra M7 measures 13.7 by 10.2 by 1.2 inches (1.57 inches in the rear).

eWeek Labs found the Tecra M7 bulky when compared with ultraportable tablets weve tested, such as Lenovos ThinkPad X41 Tablet, but the Toshiba system makes up for it with an almost full-size keyboard and a dual-layer DVD burner.

The $1,519 base configuration of the Tecra M7 comes with Intels 1.66GHz Core Duo T2300E processor, 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, Intels GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 950 and an integrated Intel Wi-Fi module capable of accessing 802.11a/b/g networks.

The Tecra M7 we tested was armed with the slightly beefier 1.83GHz Intel T2400 Core Duo processor, 1GB of RAM and a 100GB hard drive. In this configuration, the Tecra M7 costs $1,899.

Since the Tecra M7 came out, Intel has released the Core 2 Duo processor, which consumes less power than the Core Duo processor. Toshiba officials have said that the Core 2 Duo processor will be available to customers as a build-to-order option before the end of 2006.

The systems 14.1-inch WXGA+ (Wide XGA+) widescreen display has a 1,440-by-900-pixel native resolution that increases the amount of screen real estate users can take advantage of when using the Tecra M7 as a tablet.

The Tecra M7 is "Windows Vista Premium Ready," which means the machine can provide users with the full Microsoft Vista experience, including Aero Glass three-dimensional graphics, translucency and windows animation. We liked that Toshiba placed a biometric fingerprint reader next to the screen, allowing us to log on to the machine regardless of whether we were using the Tecra M7 as a laptop or as a tablet.

The Tecra M7 offers the standard connectivity options, including the tri-band Intel Pro/Wireless 3945ABG Network Connection, and a hardware switch let us turn the wireless on and off. Our test unit did not have Bluetooth technology, but the Tecra M7 can be configured at the time of purchase to support it.

The digitized stylus, which is included with the Tecra M7, is easy to grip, and writing with it while using the Windows Journal application was like writing on paper. When converting the Tecra M7 from notebook to tablet format, we found the units hinge to be sturdy. The machine also was quick to recognize when we wanted to use it in tablet mode rather than laptop mode.

Our test unit came with four USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire port. The Tecra M7 also has a five-in-one media card reader that supports Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard and xD- Picture Cards.

The unit we tested had a six-cell lithium-ion battery, from which we got a paltry 2 hours of life. We hope to see improved battery performance from the Tecra M7 models with the Core 2 Duo processor.

Senior Writer Anne Chen is at anne_chen@ziffdavis.com.

Evaluation Shortlist

Lenovos ThinkPad X41

This portable tablet PC provides all the features of the companys X41 laptop with tablet functionality; Lenovo is rumored to be releasing a new version soon, though (www.lenovo.com)

Gateways M285-E

Packs a 14-inch widescreen display, a full-size keyboard and Intels Core 2 Duo processors into a hefty machine that serves best as a desktop replacement (www.gateway.com)