Shopping for a tablet is a little like packing for an extended camping trip: every ounce of creature comfort you throw in the bag weighs on your performance and endurance. The Toshiba Portege M200 offers a nice balance of features that lets it successfully walk the line between ultraportable notebook and tablet PC. Mobile technology, like hiking, is all about balance.
Although the Toshiba Portege M200 is more expensive than Fujitsu's LifeBook T3000, we think it's worth it. Like other convertible tablets, the Toshiba Portege M200 has a swivel hinge at the base of the display that lets you flip and fold the screen into tablet mode. It's neither the biggest nor the lightest convertible tablet we've reviewed, but it successfully integrates a nice array of features into a decidedly svelte, ultraportable design.
|The Toshiba Portege M200's no-frills touch pad lacks dedicated scroll areas and extra buttons.|
We like the full-size keyboard, which makes for comfortable typing despite the condensed form factor. The convertible tablet's no-frills touch pad lacks dedicated scroll areas and extra buttons, but it is responsive and configurable.
The Toshiba Portege M200 is also easy to control as a tablet. Its well-designed pen and sensitive thin film transistor (TFT) display makes navigating and writing on the screen as easy as using the keyboard and the mouse. We also like the spring-loaded pen docking slot on the right side.
A modest array of ports and controls graces the edges of the Toshiba Portege M200. The back panel harbors a VGA port for an external display, two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, and an RJ11 port for the tablet's built-in 56Kbps modem. The front panel contains a conveniently located volume wheel, along with microphone and earphone jacks and an SD media slot. There's also a handy hardware On/Off switch for the wireless adaptor on the tablet's right side, which can help save your battery when you're not using the network.
The Toshiba Portege M200 combines the full array of features you'd expect from an ultraportable with the functionality of a tablet PC. It lacks an integrated optical drive, but you can buy it bundled with a slim and useful USB DVD/CD-RW combo drive that runs on either battery or AC power. Toshiba also sells the bundled version under the moniker M205-S809.
|Toshiba also sells the tablet under the moniker M205, the same unit with an external drive.|
You can get the Toshiba Portege M200 in many configurations, but the standard components make it a high-performance tablet even in its most basic form. The Portege M200 comes replete with an Intel Pentium M 1.5GHz processor, an Intel 855PM system chipset, and a Wi-Fi-certified Intel Pro/wireless LAN 2100 802.11b adapter, making it a true Centrino.
The basic configuration includes 512MB of memory in two 256MB modules, which unfortunately populate both of the available memory slots, making a future upgrade less convenient. Toshiba offers memory upgrades of up to 2GB. The Toshiba Portege M205 comes with a 40GB hard drive, but you can also customise it to 60GB or 80GB of storage.
At 12.1 inches, the Toshiba Portege M200's TFT display is small, especially considering its 1,400x1,050 SXGA (Super Extended Graphics Array) resolution. Fonts and icons are predictably tiny, but the display's vibrant colours and wide viewing angle make it a pleasure to use. The display's pumped-up virtual screen real estate can come in handy if you work with high-resolution images, and the Nvidia GeForce FX Go 5200 32M is powerful enough to support small-scale video editing and Web design.