Notebook not pretty, but a good workhorse


Toshiba are if nothing else a player in the notebook PC area. While other manufacturers, busy playing in other markets from software to movie production, usually push one brand under their banner to be their flagship in laptops, Toshiba have a solid presence across the spectrum, with products to suit all tastes, budgets, requirements and aesthetic predilections.

The last Toshiba The West previewed was a dependable but ugly machine, but then design wasn’t part of the bargain made in the price. If you want a beautiful looking machine, you can go for a BenQ or Sony VAIO.

The Tecra range is slightly more attractive and pleasant to use than other Toshibas, but its forte is still under the bonnet. The Tecra A5 manages some very clever use of what it has where it counts. Ahead of the pack against six other laptops in a battery of on-the-street tests, it makes use of a 1.73GHz Pentium M chip to beat out higher clock speeds in other machines in hard disk, graphics and system performance.

Don’t be fooled that it’s a multimedia workhorse though. There are no deep bass, wide range speakers and the graphics card isn’t top of the line. It’s a machine for the corporate market — what it will do is churn through data with phenomenal efficiency (rather than just phenomenal speed).

Something Toshiba have done that gets your attention however is built the Tecra’s impressive workings into a very tough chassis. There aren’t many notebooks you can hold up by a single corner without hearing a nerve-shattering crack — not ones that weigh 2.3 kg, anyway.

It’s a good buy at a great price if you want a reliable office tool without any expensive bells and whistles.


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