Tactical Advice

Review: Toshiba's Tecra M10 Notebook

Toshiba's Tecra M10 notebook is light, yet solid, and packed with mobile management features.
This story appears in the July 2009 issue of BizTech Magazine.
Toshiba Tecra M10-S3401
CDW Price: $1,279.99 »

Toshiba’s Tecra M10-S3401 is a good fit for users who are looking for a lightweight but capable notebook suited for the enterprise. The Tecra M10 can power business applications while providing IT departments with the features to support the machines and the mobile workers who use them.

The Tecra M10 includes an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor at 2.26 gigahertz. This includes 3 megabytes of Level-2 cache and a front-side bus speed of 1066 megahertz. The system ships with 2 gigabytes of DDR2 800MHz RAM and is expandable to 4GB.

End-User Advantages

Right off the bat, M10 users will notice the notebook’s size: Weighing in at only 5.3 pounds and measuring 1.5 inches in height, the M10 fits comfortably into the “thin and light” category. But even with the thin, lightweight profile, the M10 has a very solid feel.

The M10 includes a 14.1-inch, thin-film-transistor, widescreen active-matrix display that supports a maximum resolution of 1440x900. The Nvidia Quadro NVS 150M graphics card ships with 256MB of video RAM, which delivers a very responsive display that’s capable of managing business applications as well as graphics and video.

End users will appreciate the M10’s excellent connectivity options. The Intel Gigabit Ethernet interface provides high-speed wired connectivity, while the Intel WiFi Link 5100 wireless adapter offers 802.11a/b/g/ draft-n wireless connectivity. Toshiba packages a number of different utilities to ease wireless network configuration.

Video-conferencing users will like the bezel-mounted webcam and video management software, which makes video conferencing easy to initiate. The camera is responsive and the image quality is clear.

Why It Works for IT

The Tecra M10 includes a number of features that make it useful as an enterprise platform for mobile workers. The Intel Centrino 2 platform includes Intel’s vPro technology, which lets IT departments provide hardware-assisted remote isolation and diagnostics, independent of the operating system’s state.

Intel’s vPro technology can also assist in device recovery and sanitization, another important factor to consider when selecting a platform for mobile workers. The vPro platform can help locate lost devices and delete sensitive data residing on a lost device. Also, a timer-activated BIOS password will prevent unauthorized system access if the notebook is lost
or stolen.

The M10 includes a number of other security features for which IT departments should be enthused. The integrated fingerprint reader, smart-card reader and Trusted Platform Module 1.2 integration deliver an added level of security and allow IT departments to easily incorporate two-factor authentication policies.

Disadvantages

While the Tecra’s light weight is sure to be appreciated by end users, the 3-hour battery life is shorter than that of comparable notebooks. Users may find that they need to stay plugged in for a longer period of time or recharge more often than they’d like. IT departments may wish to consider purchasing the available 9-cell, high-capacity battery pack.

The volume control is a continuous-motion wheel that’s positioned toward the user. It’s not recessed in any way, which makes it easy for a user to brush against it and change the volume. There are no stops in either direction, so it can be difficult to find a setting.

The touchpad also takes some getting used to. Mouse buttons at the bottom of the touchpad are split, with the fingerprint scanner separating the left and right buttons. I found myself frequently hitting the fingerprint scanner rather than the desired mouse button.

Tom Jordan is the network operations center manager at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
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