Toshiba Portege M800 (PPM80A-01900P)

Compact yet relatively powerful.

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Toshiba Portege M800 (PPM80A-01900P)
  • Toshiba Portege M800 (PPM80A-01900P)
  • Toshiba Portege M800 (PPM80A-01900P)
  • Toshiba Portege M800 (PPM80A-01900P)

Pros

  • Compact yet relatively powerful, comfortable to use, improves on the previous model

Cons

  • Pre-installed trial version of Microsoft Office (we'd prefer a free office suite, like OpenOffice.org)

Bottom Line

It’s good to see that Toshiba has improved this notebook and rectified some of the small performance flaws we noticed in the earlier M800. Overall the upgrade has seen small performance gains primarily in the graphics department. It's a great ultraportable notebook that offers strong performance despite its small size, and it is a joy to use on the go.

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Toshiba has refreshed its Portege M800 with an upgrade following the launch of Intel’s Centrino 2 platform. Its performance and features make it a desirable unit for any mobile professional or student, although at 2.1kg it is slightly heavier than other ultraportable notebooks we’ve recently tested.

Its size has been shaved slightly when compared to the previous incarnation, measuring 31cm in length and 23cm in depth, and it is slightly slimmer than its predecessor at 3.1cm thick (at its thickest point, towards the rear).

The M800 is ideal if you want something undersized that can easily fit into a small bag but provide a full notebook performance experience. It will competently run all office applications, including Adobe Photoshop, and will multitask without any problems.

It scored 89 in our WorldBench 6 benchmark which is a fractional improvement over the strong results the earlier version achieved. Its Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 CPU has been upgraded and, for example, is capable of running 3-D rendering programs quite quickly. In our MP3 encoding test it took 1min 7sec to convert 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files, which is only slightly faster than the previous M800.

The Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 965GM integrated graphics controller is great for playing older games or even reasonably recent games if you run them at low settings. However, its score of 2140 in 3DMark06 means it’s still not ideal if playing the latest high-spec games is your intention.

While on the road, the M800 should last you a long time, as long as you employ a conservative power management strategy. It lasted just under two hours — 1hr 45min — in our worst-case scenario battery test, in which we loop a DVD.

The M800 has some nice innovations. Perhaps most useful are the 'Sleep and Charge' USB 2.0 ports. Using Toshiba's HWSetup utility you can enable this feature so that USB devices can be charged by the notebook while it is switched off. It worked fine with an MP3 player even when the notebook wasn't plugged in to a power outlet.

The good news is that after using it for prolonged periods of time the notebook didn't get very warm at all. There wasn't any noticeable heat coming up through the keyboard, nor was there much heat through the base. This is a big plus when compared to other ultraportable notebooks, which tend to heat up. Intel’s Core 2 Duo T9300 CPU is built using 45nm technology which helps keep the notebook cool, as does the large grill on the left-hand side of the unit.

Toshiba has improved the M800's keyboard and it is comfortable to use over long periods of time, with good spacing. The touchpad is responsive — sometimes over responsive — but we didn’t feel compelled to plug in a mouse, as is the case with many other ultraportable laptops.

Toshiba has improved the DVD calibration it seems, as there was no vibration when spinning disks at high speed. The notebook's speakers are still weak, although they are adequate for occasional movie watching. The 13.3in screen has improved viewing angles and provides good contrast.

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