capsule review

Toshiba Portege M205-S810

At a Glance
  • Toshiba Portege M205-S810

Toshiba M205-S810
Artwork: Rick Rizner, John Goddard

Presto, change-o: The Toshiba Portégé M205-S810 works either as a notebook or as a tablet PC. To convert to the latter, just rotate the notebook's touch screen and lock it faceup against the keyboard for drawing or taking notes. Though the $2399 Portégé is not a perfect notebook or tablet, we liked it slightly better as a notebook. The touchpad and mouse buttons are a bit undersize, but we found typing easy. The 802.11g Wi-Fi-ready unit comes with all the most important notebook connections, including an SD Card slot. System memory and the hard drive are user-accessible and upgradable. The only big omission is an integrated optical drive, which we usually find in 4.4-pound notebooks. Instead Toshiba bundles a USB-connected combination drive.

A bit small for a notebook, the Portégé's 12.1-inch screen is plenty big for a tablet, which must be light enough to carry all day. The Portégé's 1.5-GHz/600-MHz Pentium M processor and 512MB of RAM, which helped it attain a WorldBench 5 score of 64 in our speed tests, kept the unit plenty peppy and responsive to our screen taps. Battery life is good at 3.2 hours, about the same as that of the HP Compaq Tablet PC Tc1100, another convertible tablet. The back edge of the notebook with status lights extends a half-inch on one side, which gives the unit a stylish look.

However, we weren't crazy about the Portégé's overall tablet design. There aren't as many useful shortcut buttons and utilities as on some other tablets we've seen, and the ones it has are not fully explained in either of the two user manuals. We had small problems using the Portégé in both portrait and landscape modes. In right-hand portrait mode, the Portégé's pen silo is located on the bottom, an awkward place to fumble for a pen when you're carrying a tablet. Using the tablet in landscape mode puts the silo on the left, where it's much easier to reach, and the tablet's shortcut buttons work better in landscape orientation, too. But not everyone works with spreadsheets all day, and the curved back of the notebook is not as comfortable to hold against your body as the end is. Like most tablet convertibles nowadays, the Portégé comes with stereo sound but its speakers are loud and sound a tad harsh.

The Portégé M205-S810 excels at neither notebook nor tablet duties, but people looking for a convertible that handles both tasks adequately should give it a close look.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • Toshiba Portege M205-S810

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