Toshiba Tecra A5-S416
At a Glance
Toshiba Tecra A5-S416 Notebook
A plain-jane business portable that's rich in features but suffers from uncomfortable mouse buttons.
The Toshiba Tecra A5-S416 is the sensible shoe of notebooks. The business version of the $1349 Toshiba Satellite M55-S325, it's equipped with a slower 1.6-GHz Pentium M 730 processor, a CD burner (instead of a DVD burner), a 40GB (instead of 100GB) hard drive, pitifully weak sound, and boring case colors.
The A5-S416 has the same grave shortcoming as the M55-S325: a keyboard that's easy to type on but has such small, close-to-the-edge mouse buttons that I couldn't use them without also striking the case with my thumb. That gets old quickly.
Instead of including a CD/DVD autoplay button for playing music and watching movies, the A5-S416 has a presentation button for switching to an external monitor. It does match its more exciting consumer version in weight (5.1 pounds), display (a bright 14-inch wide screen), and connections (four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, a TV-out port, and a five-in-one card reader).It also has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a bottom docking connection for Toshiba's $179 Advanced Port Replicator III, which adds DVI, parallel, and serial ports.
The A5's battery life of 3:05 in our tests was a pretty good. Its speed should be adequate for undemanding applications. The A5's WorldBench 5 score of 74 places it in the company of other notebooks with a 1.6-GHz Pentium M processor and 512MB of system memory. Despite its faults, the A5-S416 is pretty impressive for a $1049 notebook (not including productivity applications).
Cramped mouse buttons torpedo this otherwise reasonably well-designed business-oriented laptop.