The Toshiba Tecra A10-16E targets corporate users, offering great build quality and comfortable controls that make it an ideal machine for everyday business use.
Unlike many consumer laptops, the Toshiba features a standard 15.4-inch TFT screen. The matt finish is a lot better when used out and about, as it doesn't highlight reflections or fingerprints, and it's also fine when used near a window or directly under a light. It doesn't offer colours quite so vibrant as its rivals, but it's still one of the brightest panels, making it an excellent choice for home and office work.
Toshiba has fitted an integrated Intel graphics card in order to keep costs down and to increase battery life. As such, you'll be able to run this machine for an impressive 318 minutes away from a power point, although multimedia performance is compromised as a result. You'll still be able to perform basic photo and video editing, but nothing too graphically intensive.
BENCHMARK MACHINE: Samsung Q45
With its bulky and square design, the Tecra is a machine that makes a lot more sense in the office than on the road. Build quality for the most part is excellent, with a strong chassis. The thick screen surround withstands pressure easily and the chassis itself remains free from flex, even if picked up by the very corner. As such, it's an ideal machine for small businesses and those needing a reliable tool for daily use.
The keyboard is a slight letdown in terms of quality – flexing and proving noisy under strain. It's comfortable to use, however, and bevelled edges to the keys make it easy to accurately type at speed.
The touchpad is small but responsive, and there's also a pointing stick in the centre of the keyboard for quicker navigation. There are two sets of buttons, offering enhanced usability, although those below the touchpad are too small.
In-keeping with its corporate aspirations, a fingerprint scanner is located between the mouse buttons. Other features include an eSATA port for fast data transfers to an external hard drive, and it's one of the few laptops to offer a serial port, letting you connect to older equipment.
A 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2048MB of memory allow for efficient multi-tasking, and we found this laptop runs intensive tasks without problems. The 160GB hard drive is fine for business use, but is limited compared to others in this price range.
The Tecra A10-16E remains a good choice for small businesses or corporate users, with the sturdy chassis more than capable of withstanding daily use, but the noisy keyboard – despite offering excellent usability – lets it down.