Toshiba Portege M400 Tablet PC - Speedy to the Core/s
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There is some great news for Tablet PC users. Strap on your rocket boots because the new Toshiba Portege M400 with Intel Core Duo technology is sure to take you for a flight. This zippy lightweight makes a near perfect debut as the first Tablet PC featuring a dual core CPU to hit the market. To add extra appeal, Toshiba designed this machine with the traveling pro in mind adding biometric security, hard drive shock protection and extended battery options. Top it off with a very good user experience and good build quality and you have a good sense of what you're in for if you plan to acquire the "latest and greatest" in Tablet PC convertibles.
The dark silver on charcoal shell of the M400 makes a nice impression for the mobile professional. Although the plastics along the palm rest seem a bit "thin", one would guess that the machine will be long obsolete by the time a user has worn through them. The actual case of the M400 feels solid when it is closed. The swivel base is not the sturdiest we have felt, but seems to work fine for us so far. Toshiba did a good job of spacing the display from the keyboard when the unit is closed shut - helping to avoid screen damage when the unit is stuffed into a tight bag. The hardware switches, buttons and card expansion slots all feel as though they will handle day to day use without a hitch. Overall, we feel confident that the M400 makes a good lightweight and roadworthy travel companion built sturdy enough to survive the challenges of daily mobility.
Build & Design
(view large image) Front View: Wi-Fi switch, dual array mic, mic/headphone jacks, volume dial, display latch
(view large image) Right View: pen in slot, multi-card reader, optical drive
(view large image) Left View: fan vent, Kensington lock, USB ports, IEEE 1394, PCMCIA
(view large image) Rear View: AC in jack, USB, VGA out, modem/LAN ports
(view large image) Display View: power switch, toggle switch, screen rotation, ctrl+alt+del, "Toshiba Assist" and display toggle buttons.
(view large image) Underneath: hard drive, RAM compartment, battery, docking port, extended battery port.
Special Note: Our readers and members of TabletPCReviewSpot.com have become concerned over reports of excessive "fan noise". We found the M400 to be on the "quiet side" regarding this issue. As individuals, we all have our own tolerance levels for noise, but as we have worked with many different Tablet PC models (more than I wish to count), I can say with confidence that the fan on our review unit runs consistently quiet. There are no "whining" tones - only the sound of air moving through the case. For those who are still concerned, there is a manual fan setting in the Toshiba power saver software. You are in ultimate control of fan movement should you feel the need to minimize it.
(view large image) Not a "fan" of fan noise? Adjust it.
The Toshiba Portege M400 display is bright and clear. Although the native resolution is limited to 1024x768, the display renders crisp text and bright, colorful images. The display screen is not shiny like the "brightview" types, but is only slightly matte in finish which is a good compromise to cutting glare without distorting images underneath the glass.
At 12.1", the viewable area may be a bit small for "all day use". This would depend on the individual user's taste and tolerance. Since the M400 includes a VGA out port, plugging into a nice large external monitor is a snap.
The built-in stereo speakers are about average for a typical "thin and light" Tablet PC/notebook. The volume pumps up to a respectable level, but the sound quality lacks the fullness that an external speaker set or headphones would provide. We like that Toshiba used a hardware volume dial for audio, which allows much more freedom when it comes to adjusting sound even before turning on the machine. You won't find yourself in a meeting with palms of your hands covering the speakers to mute the Windows infamous startup tune!
CORE DUO Processor and Performance Benchmarks
This machine is just simply a speed demon. The Core Duo technology is everything we expected it to be. Rather than raving on and on about it, just look at the benchmarks below - they tell the real story. We do however wish to mention the benefits we experienced from the Core Duo architecture.
1. Rendering images is just a pleasure on a Core Duo machine. From Photoshop to Picasa 2, this is the WAY TO GO.
2. It's no secret that Adobe Acrobat Reader loves to lock up or stall a machine -especially when opening up a .PDF document in Internet Explorer. The Core Duo CPU takes care of this problem and handles this type of multitasking with ease.
3. Go ahead an run the damn antivirus or spyware updates and scans without bogging down the machine. While one core deals with that stuff in the background, the user is free to actually USE the computer with the other!
4. This is opinion, but will soon be fact. Dual Core computing is the BEST fix for Windows XP lock-ups and instability ever made available. Save yourself headaches from unnecessary freezes and data loss by taking advantage of the new technology.
We used SuperPI to calculate the number Pi to 2 Million digits in this raw number crunching benchmark. This open source benchmark application allows the user to change the number of digits of Pi that can be calculated from 16 Thousand to 32 Million. The benchmark, which uses 19 iterations in the test, was set to 2 Million digits.
Comparison of Tablet PC models using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits (plugged in):
Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|Toshiba Portege M400 |
(1.83GHz Core Duo)
|Toshiba Tecra M4 (1.86 GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|HP tc4200 (1.73GHz Alviso PM)||1m 51s|
|Toshiba R15 Tablet PC (1.6GHz Dothan PM)||2m 8s|
|Fujitsu ST5000 (1.1GHz Dothan PM)||2m 37s|
We used Futuremark's PCMark '04 benchmarking software to measure the M400's performance in various tasks.
Performance Benchmarks for the Toshiba M400 (1.83GHz Core Duo) compared to the Toshiba Tecra M4 (1.86GHz) simulating multiple computing tasks:
|Futuremark PCMark04 Scores||Toshiba Portege M400 |
(1.83GHz Core Duo)
|Toshiba Tecra M4 |
(1.86 GHz Alviso Pentium M)
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression||6.25 MB/s||3.36 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption||53.28 MB/s||27.88 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression||47.61 MB/s||24.27 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing||21.66 MPixels/s||10.98 MPixels/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning||4637.05 MB/s||1889.77 MB/s|
|Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check||4.61 KB/s||2.94 KB/s|
|File Decryption||54.58 MB/s||55.26 MB/s|
|Audio Conversion||2823.21 KB/s||2537.37 KB/s|
|Web Page Rendering||5.98 Pages/s||5.57 Pages/s|
|DivX Video Compression||69.46 FPS||51.17 FPS|
|Physics Calculation and 3D||100.21 FPS||182.51 FPS|
|Graphics Memory - 64 Lines||481.44 FPS (integrated GPU) ||1180.33 (dedicated GPU)|
|3DMark '03 Score||N/A||N/A|
Even the powerful 1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M is no match for the 1.83GHz dual core CPU.
Our M400 review unit has an 60GB 5400 RPM hard drive. Below are the results for the HD Tune performance benchmarks.
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The Toshiba 5400RPM drive tested with a respectable average 27.2 MB/sec transfer rate.
(Input) Keyboard, Toggle Stick Device, Pen and Mic
The M400 keyboard is responsive and spread out appropriately for its size. We found this keyboard to be easy to use. There is no cheap "flex" to the keys. As I have seen in just about any Toshiba Tablet PC convertible or notebook model, the keyboards are held to a certain standard of quality that one needs not to be concerned about.
(view large image) A plain Jane touchpad - "Let's not get too excited".
The M400 navigation features are straightforward. There is a classic touchpad with left and right mouse buttons. Of course there is the wonderful electromagnetic pen standard with most any mainstream Tablet PC and finally a "toggle stick" that is located on the display edge to help the user quickly skip the cursor from place to place wen the device is in "tablet mode"
Writing on the M400's semi-matte screen is a pleasure. Because there is some texture to the top surface of the display, there is no slippage and we found writing to be a breeze. The sensitivity of the digitizer on our M400 is well-balanced. We did not experience any "dead spots" or areas that seem immune to proper pen to screen calibration.
The M400 features a dual array microphone built into the front of the unit. For those users of apps. like Dragon Naturally Speaking and IBM Via Voice, you will love the responsiveness and quality of this system. Speech recognition in a quiet room requires no headset mic when working with the M400.
Using Battery Eater Pro to test the 6-cell lithium ion battery under the most extreme circumstances. With the Wi-Fi turned on, the hard drive constantly reading/writing and the CPU busy making calculations, and ALL power saving features tuned OFF, the M400 ran for about 1 1/2 hours on the standard battery. Real world runtime is about 3+ hours. Toshiba also offers an add-on battery on its website.
|OS||Windows XP Service Pack 2|
|CPU Manufacture||Intel Corporation|
|CPU Model||Genuine Intel(R) CPU T2400 @ 1.83GHz|
|CPU Extensions||| MMX | SSE2 | HT | Enchanted SpeedStep|
CPU Cache Info
|Level 1 Instructions||32|
|Level 1 Data||32|
|Level 2 Data||2048|
System RAM info
|Memory slots||2 ( 1: 256Mb; 2: 256Mb; )|
Display Device Info
|Adapter||Mobile Intel(R) 945GM Express Chipset Family|
|OpenGL render device||Intel 945GM|
|OpenGL driver version||1.4.0 - Build 188.8.131.5236|
|Vertex shader version||0.0|
|Pixel shader version||2.0|
Hard Disk Drive Info
|S.M.A.R.T.||Not supported or Not Enabled|
Main Battery Info
|Temperature||Termal Control Not Present|
|Full Charged Capacity||47271mWh|
|Force charge support||Not Supported|
|Force discharge support||Not Supported|
|Pi calculations||80354 Cycles|
|HDD readwrite||6271 Mb|
|Fames Rendered||325184 Frames|
|Discharge rate (minimum)||4294933114 mWh|
|Discharge rate (maximum)||4294950373 mWh|
|Discharge rate (average)||4294939231 mWh|
The Toshiba M40 comes preloaded with Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, Microsoft Works , Intuit Quicken New User Edition 2005, InterVideo WinDVD , InterVideo WinDVD Creator 2 Platinum, Sonic Solutions RecordNow! Basic
OS: Windows XP Tablet PC Edition or Windows XP Professional
The M400 includes an Intel Pro Wireless a/b/g wireless card (built-in). We found connections to various hot spots to stay consistent and fast without disruption. We did not find any need to update the Intel Pro Wireless drivers as we have with other various Tablet PC models. It is a pleasure to say that the Toshiba M400 Wi-Fi works "right out of the box".
The M400 also includes a built-in Bluetooth radio. Toshiba's software utility for configuring Bluetooth devices worked like a charm. Funny thing though, the M400 just absolutely refused to pair up with our Apple branded Bluetooth keyboard. Hmm... I am thinking conspiracy theory here!
Toshiba incorporated biometric security into the M400. The security features include embedded TPM (Trusted Platform Module), an integrated Fingerprint Sensor and the Protector Suite QL software package. Using the included Protector Suite software, enrolling fingerprints is easy to do and helped to keep spies out of our private Internet pictures - I mean er, um our sensitive financial documents, yeah that's what I meant lol.
With the purchase of the Toshiba M400, you get a standard one-year warranty. Should you need assistance, the following services are available:
The Toshiba Portege M400 is one of the most advanced Tablet PCs on the market today. We love the Core Duo processor option and the biometric security. The weight and build quality makes for a great portable travel companion. We would have liked to see Toshiba offer dedicated graphics as an option for those users who actually want to play games beyond Solitaire, but Toshiba left us hi and dry in that regard. Overall, we would recommend the M400 as yet another fantastic contender in the "thin and light" convertible Tablet PC category.
Barry J. Doyle
TabletPCReviewSpot | Editor in Chief
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