Toshiba Tecra M6-EZ6611
At a Glance
Toshiba Tecra M6
This light and compact titanium-silver unit has what it takes to get basic work done on the go.
Uncomfortable mouse buttons cramp the style of the Toshiba Tecra M6-EZ6611, an otherwise light, compact titanium-silver unit that has what it takes to get basic work done on the go.
The M6 weighs 4.1 pounds and includes a nice 12.1-inch WXGA screen, a top-of-the-line multiformat DVD burner, a handy presentation button, an ample 80GB hard drive, three USB ports, and a fingerprint reader. The reasonable $1500 price (as of 9/8/06) includes Microsoft Works 8.5.
Port layout is convenient. FireWire and audio ports on the front make downloading camcorder video and plugging in headphones a snap. Most of the remaining connections, including a three-in-one memory card reader and Wi-Fi switch, are just around the right corner. Hidden hinges are a nice touch. However, as with most small notebooks, the M6's stereo speakers have a transistor-radio quality to them.
The M6's speed is solid but not exceptional. Equipped with a 1.66-GHz Core Duo T2300 processor and 512MB of DDR2-533 SDRAM, the M6 earned a WorldBench 5 score of 77. That's 10 percent worse than the score of 86 earned by a WinBook T230 we tested with the same processor but twice the memory, a typical performance gap. (We haven't tested any other notebooks with the M6's precise configuration.) The unit's battery life, though, is more attractive: We sailed through 4.5 hours of work before the M6's six-cell rear-mounted battery gave out.
The keyboard is not bad. PgUp, PgDn, and the function keys are half size, but the otherwise full-size layout makes typing easy; only the Del key's bottom-row location takes some getting used to. The keyboard is also spill resistant, which can come in handy if the person seated next to you fumbles a latte. The only serious typing impediment is the undersize mouse buttons. (Note to self: Buy a wireless mouse.)
Expansion options are a mixed bag. The RAM slots are sealed under the keyboard, which means you'll have to send the unit back to the factory for memory upgrades. The M6 lacks a docking station port, so you'll need to buy a third-party USB device. Storage upgrades, however, should be a snap: You need only about 5 minutes and a screwdriver to remove and replace the 80GB hard drive in the bottom compartment.
If you'd prefer an M6 with a little more oomph, you can step up from the EZ6611 retail configuration on Toshiba's Web site to the customizable M6-ST3412 model, which you can order with Bluetooth ($30 extra), a hard drive up to 120GB, a faster processor, and a gigabyte of memory. Either way, you're looking at a fairly fine little portable for knocking out work on the run.