Toshiba's Tecra M10 range of laptops puts security at the forefront, with both Intel vPro and a Toshiba security feature, EasyGuard, taking centre stage. The M10 range consists of reasonably portable laptops, so it's good to see that mobile broadband can also be integrated.
There are four models in the range, which starts at around £630. Our review sample is the top-of-the-range Tecra M10-10I model, available for around £960.
The M10 won't win any design prizes, but it does look reassuringly solid. The outer dark silver lid sports a large, reflective, Toshiba logo. Inside, the dark silver livery is combined with black, including a wide border around the screen.
At 2.4kg. the M10 falls into the thin-and-light laptop category, although it's probably not a system that you'd want to carry every day. If you do take it on your travels, you'll need a fairly capacious bag, as it measures roughly 34cm by 4cm by 25cm.
There's no clasp holding the lid and system unit sections together, so the M10 will need its own pocket in your bag, unless you want to risk foreign objects getting between the screen and keyboard.
The 14.1-inch screen is sharp and bright, and its non-reflective matte finish is welcome. The display has a decent widescreen resolution of 1,440x900 pixels and viewing angles are good. If more resolution is required, the M10's integrated graphics will output to an external monitor at up to 2,048x1,536 pixels.
The keyboard is a highlight, as it's both well constructed and spill-resistant. The keys are large and give good feeback, clicking satisfyingly when pressed. We could touch type at top speed without any trouble. A slight problem is the column of keys to the right of the enter key. These offer home, page up, page down and end functions. We'd have preferred these functions to be doubled up on the inverted-T cursor-key cluster at the bottom right corner of the keyboard. As it stands, the enter key is thinner than usual, which takes some getting used to.
The row of number keys is topped by a row of function keys with additional Fn key combinations. Unusually, when you press the Fn key, a facsimile of the Fn key row appears on-screen, reminding you of the different keys' functions. When you choose a key, a new image appears, offering the relevant options. We found this useful, but the feature only seems to cover Fn 1-9, leaving Fn 10-12 unexplained -- you'll need to resort to the manual to uncover their functions.
There are three buttons above the keyboard. One is the main on/off switch. The second opens the Windows Mobility Centre, where you can do things like tweak display brightness and volume, change power settings, access wireless features and switch to an external display. The third launches Toshiba Assist, which gives access to a range of security and other settings, such as customising the hard-drive protection.
The touchpad is recessed a long way into the surrounding wrist rest. It has horizontal and vertical scrolling built into the bottom and right edges. Beneath it are two smallish, but well-constructed, mouse buttons, and, between them, a fingerprint sensor.
Above the touchpad is a second pair of mouse buttons, this time larger and designed with an upwards curve so that they can be more easily used with the Accupoint stick that sits between the g, h and b keys.
Our M10-10I review sample runs the top-end 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400. The system comes with 3GB of DDR2 RAM, which is expandable to a maximum of 8GB. Graphics are handled by Intel's GMA 4500MHD module, which is integrated in the GM45 Express chipset.
Three of the four M10 laptops in the range feature Intel's vPro remote-management technology, which includes enhanced security features. Toshiba has added its own EasyGuard suite of security tools, which includes the fingerprint scanner, spill-resistant keyboard and hard-drive protection, as well as a 'Trusted Platform Module' (TPM).
The M10 runs Windows Vista Business and comes with a DVD for a self-administered downgrade to Windows XP Professional, if required.
The M10-10I model has a 250GB hard drive: the entry-level M10-10W has a 120GB drive, while the mid-range M10-10H and M10-11V models each have 160GB drives. The optical drive is a DVD Super Multi double-layer drive.
Wireless connectivity comes courtesy of Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g, Draft-N) and Bluetooth, with Gigabit Ethernet and a V.92 modem for wired links. Mobile broadband is an option, but wasn't present in our review sample. The laptop can also be configured with a webcam for videoconferencing.
All four edges of the laptop carry ports and connectors. The front edge has a pair of audio jacks and a volume-control wheel. The status LEDs are also on the front edge, where they can be easily viewed when the laptop is closed.