Toshiba Satellite R20
- Great OCR and tablet functions, Reasonably powerful
If you need a notebook that can also double as a tablet PC and won't be moving around too much, the R20 is a great choice.
Price$ 3,499.00 (AUD)
Toshiba's Satellite R20 is a power notebook with tablet functionality. As a tablet it performs very well, with great OCR (Optical Character Recognition) functionality, and its results in our benchmark tests were quite strong, but the design makes it quite a bit heftier than many other tablets on the market.
Running a 1.6GHz T2050 Intel Core Duo processor, an 80GB hard disk and 512MB of DDR2 RAM, the R20 is quite powerful for a tablet. Its score of 77 in World Bench 5 reflected this and indicates this machine is more than powerful enough to handle day-to-day computing tasks. We would have liked to see a little more memory included in the package as 512MB doesn't quite cut it, although the memory is expandable to 2GB if necessary.
The R20's gaming results were a little less impressive, with the onboard Intel graphics system helping the unit score 4764 in 3DMark01. This machine really isn't suited to gaming, but as a tablet PC that is no big surprise.
Of much more importance is its tablet and OCR functionality, and we are pleased to report that the R20 performed exceptionally well in this regard. Using a simple text entry box on the bottom of your screen, you can easily scribble down and input handwriting as text into any selected box or window. It had very little trouble recognizing our almost illegible writing, and if it did make a mistake, correcting it was as simple as tapping the word and having a list of alternatives displayed. It learns from previous words you input and displays common ones first. While still not as intuitive as typing, the process is quick, accurate and quite simple.
Furthermore, the 14.1in touch screen is one of the most responsive we have used. Navigating the Windows interface is simple and within a few minutes we were clicking as accurately as if we had a mouse. Running a native resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels it looks quite good, with nice colour representation and reasonably sharp, crisp presentation, but it does have a slightly dull look to it.
However the tablet functionality is somewhat impeded by the extremely bulky design. Measuring 348mm x 260mm x 39.9mm and weighing 2.7kg, it is one of the largest tablets we have seen. Consequently it's not the ideal product if you're after a tablet to use while standing up for long periods.
It sports a standard notebook design, but has a swivel screen that can rotate and fold down to hide the keyboard. When the keyboard is hidden the screen changes orientation to a portrait view for a more natural writing experience. The main part of the unit is well constructed, housing a rather deeply mounted keyboard that is quite comfortable to type on. However we did notice that when switching from notebook to tablet form the screen flexed quite a bit. While the device may tolerate this, the flex made it feel that significant care had to be taken to avoid damage.
The R20 comes with a fairly standard array of shortcut keys. Down next to the keyboard itself are the media controls, which include play, pause, stop, track skip and volume. Running along next to the monitor on the other hand are your email, task manager and Internet Explorer keys, giving you quick access to these functions even when in tablet form.
As one of the larger tablets available on the market the R20 comes standard with a DVD-RW drive which can read and write all the major formats (DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD DL, DVD-RW, DVD+RW). There are a standard array of connections including a type II PC card slot, four USB 2.0 ports, FireWire and both VGA and S-Video outputs.
A five-in-one card reader is included, which covers SD, xD, MMC, Memory stick and Memory stick Pro and there is a biometric finger scanner placed on the bottom right hand corner of the monitor. This positioning is particularly handy as it allows you to access the scanner even when folded into tablet mode.
All the connectivity options you would expect are present, including Bluetooth 2.0, 1000Mbps Ethernet and 802.11 a/b/g wireless. We tested the unit's battery using MobileMark's DVD rundown test, where it achieved a very respectable score of 159 minutes. While this isn't a media orientated unit, this gives more than enough time to watch an average, movie length DVD, and is a great result for a product in this category.
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