by Jerry Jackson
The Toshiba Tecra R10 is an attractive 14.1" business notebook featuring the latest Intel processors and Nvidia Quadro NVS 150M wrapped inside an impressively thin shell. The Tecra R10 inherits its good looks from Toshiba's Portege line of business notebooks, but are good looks and an impressive spec sheet enough to meet the demands of road warriors? Take a look and see what we have to say about this sleek laptop.
Our review unit of Toshiba Tecra R10 features the following configuration:
Build and Design
The Toshiba Tecra R10 is a business notebook designed for corporate road warriors who want a thin and attractive laptop with enough power to get most jobs done. The Tecra line has been popular with large business clients for years, but Toshiba realized the need to improve the overall design and decided to borrow key elements from the ultraportable "Portege" series of notebooks. Does the R10 succeed in making the Tecra line more appealing? You bet.
The main body of the laptop is made of a plastic and aluminum outer shell that is scratch resistant but suffers from some flex around the palmrests. The base of the laptop feels very strong thanks to a metal substructure that provides additional support, so this laptop should survive many bumps and bruises in your backpack or car. There is an unfortunate amount of flex in the keyboard, but not enough to cause serious problems while typing. Overall, the R10 isn't rugged enough for you to stand on, but it should prove rugged enough for average use.
The outer shell of the screen casing is made of plastic with a metal support structure underneath. The laptop screen housing sufferes from a fair amount of flex, but pressing on the back of the display doesn't cause any screen ripples or distortion.
The Tecra R10 comes equipped with a 14.1" anti-glare widescreen with 1280 x 800 resolution and LED backlighting. This certainly isn't the most impressive screen resolution on the market, but it's more than enough for a 14-inch display. The most important thing to consider might be the fact that this screen has excellent readability under bright sunlight, so if you're a road warrior it's easy to read the screen while you're on the road.
When viewing the screen from straight ahead, colors are rich and the contrast is excellent. Horizontal viewing angles are almost as impressive, but the vertical viewing angles from above and below aren't quite as impressive.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The 85-key keyboard on the R10 is nice with matte silver keys that are clearly visible in low light. Each key has a good amount of feedback but the overall keyboard lacks enough support to prevent flex when you apply heavy typing pressure.
The layout of the keyboard is just slightly different than what you might find on most 14-inch notebooks due to the location of the quick launch keys. Toshiba includes three shortcut keys for power, the "Toshiba Assist" button, and a Windows Mobility Center button. Because these buttons are located on the left side of hte keyboard Toshiba had to make several keyboard keys smaller ... which can lead to a few typos if you're a touch typist who never looks at the keyboard.
The touchpad features the same silver finish used on the keyboard and held up well during our tests. The touchpad in our review unit is an Alps touchpad, but unlike most Alps touchpads we've reviewed this touchpad was quite responsive and free from any cursor lag issues. The only negative issues we had with the touchpad were the relatively small size of the touchpad and the fact that the touchpad buttons are a little painful to use. The polished silver touchpad buttons have extremely shallow presses so if you tend to press hard with your thumb you will end up with a sore thumb by the end of an 8-hour work day. Also, since the fingerprint reader is located between the touchpad buttons it's easy to accidentally trigger the fingerprint reader with your thumb and get an error message on the screen ... if the fingerprint reader is active.
The built-in stereo speakers produce average quality sound for a 14-inch notebook with a good range of highs, middles, but virtually no bass. The overall sound quality is a little tinny, but not bad for a business notebook. The highest volume settings are more than loud enough to fill an office with sound for a presentation, but are still clear and not distorted.
The headphone jack on the left side of the R10 works well with the two different brands of earphones I used during the test. No static or other noise was noticed through the jack besides imperfections in the audio source itself. I also appreciated the physical volume wheel on the notebook which made it quick and easy to adjust volume levels.
Performance and Benchmarks
Our review unit of the Tecra R10 came with the Intel P9300 processor, clocking in at 2.26GHz, and jammed packed with 6MB of cache. For graphics, Toshiba included an Nvidia Quadro NVS 150M series video card with 128MB of GDDR3 memory. A fast 160GB 7200 RPM hard drive was also included, which helped applications load without much lag. This entry-level business laptop didn't exceed our expectations, but it certainly has more than enough computing power to handle average business tasks like working in Microsoft Office, editing photos in Adobe Photoshop, or navigating the web.
With that said, let's jump into the performance benchmarks.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
|Toshiba Tecra R10 (Intel Core 2 Duo P9300 @ 2.26GHz)
|Dell Latitude E6400 (Intel Core 2 Duo P9500 @ 2.53GHz)||30.497 seconds|
|HP EliteBook 8530w (Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 @ 2.53GHz)
|Lenovo T400 (Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz)
|Dell Vostro 1500 (Intel Core 2 Duo T5470 @ 1.6GHz)
|Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
|Toshiba Tecra R10 (2.26GHz Intel P9300, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 150M 128MB)||4,373 PCMarks|
|Dell Latitude E6400 (2.53GHz Intel P9500, Nvidia Quadro NVS 160M 256MB)||5,780 PCMarks|
|HP EliteBook 8530w (2.53GHz Intel T9400, Nvidia Quadro FX 770M 512MB)
|Lenovo T400 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3470 256MB GDDR3)
|Dell Vostro 1500 (1.6GHz Intel T5470, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)||3,585 PCMarks|
|Toshiba Tecra M9 (2.2GHz Intel T7500, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 130M 128MB)||3,723 PCMarks
3DMark06 measures video and gaming performance (higher scores mean better performance):
|Toshiba Tecra R10 (2.26GHz Intel P9300, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 150M 128MB)||1,822 3DMarks|
|Dell Latitude E6400 (2.53GHz Intel P9500, Nvidia Quadro NVS 160M 256MB)||1,818 3DMarks|
|HP EliteBook 8530w (2.53GHz Intel T9400, Nvidia Quadro FX 770M 512MB)||5,230 3DMarks|
|Lenovo T400 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3470 256MB GDDR3)||2,575 3DMarks|
|Dell Vostro 1500 (1.6GHz Intel T5470, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)||1,269 3DMarks|
|Toshiba Tecra M9 (2.2GHz Intel T7500, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 130M 128MB)||1,115 3DMarks
*All 3DMark06 benchmark tests are set at 1280 x 800 screen resolution.
Ports and Features
The Tecra R10 features a good number of ports on all sides, so let us take a brief tour ...
Here we see the VGA out, security lock slot, combo USB/eSATA port, USB port, microphone and headphone jacks, as well as the physical volume dial.
The only port on the front side is the SD card reader located in the middle of the notebook.
The R10 also features an 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, both of which always worked without any dropped signals.
If there is any problem with the port layout, it's the location of the ExpressCard slot. As shown in the image below, if you insert a typical ExpressCard device into the slot it will block the optical drive ... preventing you from inserting or ejecting DVDs.
Heat and Noise
During normal use (browsing the web or working on a text document) the Tecra R10 remained nice and quiet. Even after watching some streaming video online and after stressing the graphics the cooling fan inside the laptop barely gets loud enough to hear.
Finally, we recorded the following external temperatures using an IR thermometer after running two consecutive PCMark05 benchmarks. This should serve as an indicator of how hot the notebook will get after about 30 minutes of serious use. All temperatures are listed in degrees Fahrenheit. While the R10 isn't the coldest notebook we've reviewed, it does stay amazing cool considering the reasonably powerful processor and graphics.
The battery life is something we always want to pay close attention to when looking at business notebooks, and the Tecra R10 failed to impress in this area. During our timed tests, the laptop was set up for the "balanced" power profile, screen brightness at about 70%, WiFi on, and accessing the hard drive while listening to music files and editing documents in Microsoft Office. The laptop shut down after exactly 2 hours and 52 minutes with 3% of the battery left, which is acceptable for light use, but not particularly impressive. Battery life can also be extended via using the "power saver" power profile in Vista, or with a secondary battery.
The Toshiba Tecra R10 is the best looking, best performing Tecra notebook we've seen in years. The Tecra line of notebooks often lacked the polish of the rest of Toshiba's laptops, but thanks to some design elements from the Toshiba Portege line, the new Tecra notebooks look as good as they perform. Still, the attractive R10 is not without its flaws.
Designers seemingly had some trouble figuring out where to put things in this notebook since the ExpressCard slot, fingerprint reader, and quick launch keys all should have been located elsewhere. The touchpad buttons work great, but the shallow press of the buttons makes them somewhat painful to use over the course of a full work day. Still, the main issue that may keep some people from buying the Tecra R10 is the price. While the price of the R10 isn't completely out of line, similar configurations from other companies cost several hundred dollars less.
Bottom line, the Toshiba Tecra R10 is a great business notebook for road warriors who want a full featured notebook with sleek looks ... but it would be even better if it was a few hundred dollars less expensive.
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