It was interesting to discover that Toshiba, when asked to supply us with their typical business machine, chose the Portege M400 (£1199 ex. VAT), as this is isn't a standard laptop but a Tablet PC. Such devices have changed in recent times, and offer much more than just tablet functions and tend to be a laptop with a digitised display.
The use of a 12.1-inch digitised screen means you can write directly onto it using the supplied pen, so you can write notes, cut and copy information and generally use it as a paper notebook. While it isn't the largest screen on test, it's large enough for making notes as well as form filling. Graphics, as you would expect, come in the form of an integrated solution.
With a weight of 2.2kg, you'll be able to carry this with you without it being too much of a burden. With a battery life, under test, of 190 minutes it isn't the most user-friendly of tablets, but it'll get you through the average meeting with ease.
The chassis is made from tough plastic with magnesium-alloy behind the panel and the general feeling is one of robustness. The smaller screen size means the keyboard is cramped and on the small side, but we quickly came to terms with it. The touchpad and mouse buttons are equally small, but are solid, making the whole navigation of the Portege smooth and trouble free.
Other than the digitised screen and use of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, this machine acts and runs very much like a standard laptop. To this end, you'll find an Intel Core Duo T2400, which runs at 1.83GHz, handling the processing and 512MB of memory in support.
In order to fit such a specification into so small a laptop, you'll find it's quite thick, with a depth of 41mm.
It's not all plain sailing, as we found the system ran noticeably slow. This was borne out in test with a MobileMark 2005 score of 221. This is a reasonable result, but it's one of the slowest dual-core systems we've seen, only marginally quicker than a high-spec Pentium-M.
In daily use, you'll find enough speed from the machine for office tasks and the use of dual-core means you can still run your anti-virus software in the background without any noticeable lag.
To enhance security, a biometric fingerprint scanner is built into the side of the screen, so you can log on whether in tablet or laptop mode and offers a far greater level of security than standard password protection.
The Toshiba Portege M400 manages to offer everything your current laptop has to offer, but the addition of Tablet PC means you'll be able to use it in more intuitive ways. Alex Bentley, Michael Browne