Toshiba Tecra M9

The Toshiba Tecra M9 business laptop makes up for its somewhat unwieldy design by offering Intel's Centrino Pro platform, plus shock and spill protection.


6.8
CNET Rating

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Toshiba's business oriented Tecra line is far from flashy, but the company's self described flagship model, the 14-inch Tecra M9, makes up for its thick, unwieldy design by offering semi-rugged features including a shock absorbing chassis and a spill resistant keyboard. Our AU$3,410 review unit conforms to the Centrino Pro platform, which uses Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT) to provide for remote updates and troubleshooting, even when the system is powered down -- but less expensive models are available without Centrino Pro. This may be one of the ugliest laptops we've seen in a while, but if you're a business user who needs both AMT and semi-rugged construction, this is the only laptop we can think of that fits the bill.

The Toshiba Tecra M9 is without a doubt one of the boxiest laptops we've seen in some time. It's thick, squared-off, and not particularly attractive. One could say that business users are not interested in design, but Lenovo's ThinkPad line, for example, has always managed to put out top-notch corporate systems that never looked especially stodgy.

Part of the Tecra M9's heft, thickness, and weight has to do with its rugged construction, which is certainly a fair trade if you need a laptop that can withstand more than the usual on-the-road punishment. Of course, in making it more roadworthy, you also make the system less easy to carry around. Breaking the 2.7 kilogram mark when you include the AC adaptor, we wouldn't want to carry this through too many airport terminals.

Although not technically a rugged laptop along the lines of the recent Twinhead Durabook D13RY, the Tecra M9 still offers a higher degree of protection than your standard laptop's. Besides a spill-resistant keyboard, the system includes shock absorbers for the hard drive and display, and an accelerometer to protect the hard drive in case of falls.

Aside from two quick-launch buttons for Vista's Windows Mobility Center and a Toshiba branded window with shortcuts to networking and diagnostic tools, the keyboard tray has nothing except a standard keyboard, a fingerprint reader, and a dual touchpad and pointing-stick combo. The touchpad, as in other Tecra systems, is embedded a fraction of an inch below the rest of the wrist rest.

The 14.1-inch wide-screen LCD display offers a 1,440x900 native resolution, which is higher than the 1,280x800 resolution found on many 15-inch laptops.

We're pleased that the system offers 802.11n Wi-Fi technology, and business users should find the standard collection of ports and connections suitable for their needs. Toshiba offers a handful of customisation options on the Tecra M9. Our review unit had a speedy Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, but going all the way down to a T7100 will knock AU$825 off the price.

The Tecra M9 performed on par with similarly configured systems, including the popular Lenovo ThinkPad T61, which shares the same T7500 CPU and Nvidia Quadro graphics chip (required for the Centrino Pro features). As we'd expect from any current T7000-series dual-core laptop, the Tecra M9 performed well at general multitasking, including Web surfing, productivity apps, and media playback.

The Toshiba Tecra M9 ran for one hour, 50 minutes on our DVD battery drain test, using the default battery. Extra features such as the AMT and the hard-drive accelerometer may keep your laptop safe, but if they also cause the battery to drain faster, you could still end up out of luck on the road. Bear in mind our DVD battery drain test is especially gruelling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.



Multimedia multitasking test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds
Fujitsu LifeBook E8410
942
Toshiba Tecra M9
958
Lenovo ThinkPad R61
981
HP Compaq 6910p
1,052

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds
HP Compaq 6910p
313
Lenovo ThinkPad R61
323
Toshiba Tecra M9
384
Fujitsu LifeBook E8410
440

Apple iTunes encoding test
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
In seconds
Toshiba Tecra M9
181
Fujitsu LifeBook E8410
185
Lenovo ThinkPad R61
190
HP Compaq 6910p
202

DVD battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
In minutes
Fujitsu LifeBook E8410
147
Lenovo ThinkPad R61
128
HP Compaq 6910p
127
Toshiba Tecra M9
110


System configurations:

Fujitsu LifeBook E8410
Windows Vista Business; 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Nvidia GeForce 8400M G; 100GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

HP Compaq 6910p
Windows Vista Business; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon X2300; 120GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Lenovo ThinkPad R61
Windows Vista Business; 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Nvidia Quadro NVS 140M; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

Toshiba Tecra M9
Windows Vista Business; 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Nvidia Quadro NVS 130M; 160GB 5,400rpm

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