Toshiba Portege R400 (PPR40A-00H00L)

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Toshiba Portege R400 (PPR40A-00H00L)
  • Toshiba Portege R400 (PPR40A-00H00L)
  • Toshiba Portege R400 (PPR40A-00H00L)
  • Toshiba Portege R400 (PPR40A-00H00L)

Pros

  • Toshiba edge display, Latch less lid, Sturdy and sleek design

Cons

  • Premium price, Key features currently not active

Bottom Line

The Toshiba Portege R400 Tablet PC may carry a premium price tag, but it comes with some innovative new features and the promise of more still in later models. It's sturdy and lightweight, and looks stylish. Although it might be better to wait until the potential of this unit has been realised, it's still a top product and a pleasure to use.

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The Portege R400 tablet PC brings to the market some innovative technology thanks to the collaboration of Microsoft and Toshiba and shows off some of the new features of the Windows Vista operating system. A front "Edge Display" for synchronised email and calendar information joins a list of promising features, though the more exciting thing is the Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) for wireless DVI and wireless port replication.

Unfortunately, this iteration of the R400 doesn't actually support the UWB interface, but Toshiba has said they will likely offer a trade-in scheme at some point in the future. This is because, at this time, the technology isn't accessible in this country, and won't be until UWB has been approved in Australia, which could take some time. Once it is in place the Portege R400 will automatically dock wirelessly with a desktop monitor and peripherals when within range of the wireless hub. At this stage no price has been set for the hub, however, Toshiba say it's likely to be in the region of $350.

An Intel Core Duo Ultra low voltage U2500 (1.2GHz) CPU has been used in the R400, which will not produce exceptional performance, but it will help extend battery life, while still providing the benefits of a dual-core CPU. A total of 2GB (2x1024MB) of DDR2 533MHz RAM will also help keep Windows Vista Business edition running smoothly.

It's sleek, sturdy and lightweight, with some nice design and usability features such as the lack of a protruding hinge on the spine and a latch-less lid. Using Window's Vista's Active Windows Notification, Toshiba's organic light emitting diode (OLED) "Edge Display" shows email and calendar notifications, regularly synchronised with your email client. It will even continue to update when the unit is in sleep mode. The active synchronisation is facilitated via your local network, or with a 3G card, so you can keep up to date on the road. The 3G signal strength is also displayed on the OLED.

Toshiba plans to have a version with an integrated 3G Novatel EU870 Mini-PCI card, which supports High Speed Download Link Access (HSDPA) by mid-2007. This will allow the Portege R400 to get a 3G signal from any of the current 3G providers in Australia, such as Telstra's Next G network or Vodafone Mobile Connect.

The 12.1in convertible screen only spins one way when switching between tablet and notebook mode, but can be easily manipulated with one hand. As a tablet it's comfortable to hold, weighing only 1.7kg and all of the usual tablet hot-keys, such as screen rotation, volume control, quick access to Windows Mobility Center (with power saver settings, display settings and network on/off settings) and the all important one-touch ctrl-alt-del button, are easily accessible. A biometric fingerprint scanner has been placed in the bezel next to the screen for added security. The stylus is responsive and can be quickly stowed away.

The Portege R400 doesn't come with an optical drive, which is a little disappointing, so add that cost to the already premium price of $3750 if you don't already have one. It also lacks an Express Card slot, which many portable computers have standard. Until the UWB port replicator is available a VGA port is built-in for wired video out.

Connectivity wise, the R400 has a few nifty features. Once permissions have been set for any Bluetooth enabled phone the Portege R400 will automatically create a secure connection whenever the phone is within range. Apart from the Bluetooth 2.0 there's Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port for local networks.

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