Summary

Our Score

8/10

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Toshiba Portege A600-14C - 12.1in Laptop

Glancing at its spec-sheet, Toshiba's Portégé A600-14C reads like any mobile business user's dream: a 12.1in laptop with integrated 3G/HSDPA that weighs less than a kilo and a half, all without breaking the bank. We're still rather impressed following Toshiba's awesome NB200-10Z netbook, so let's see if the A600-14C can uphold the imposing pedigree.

One thing you might notice about the A600-14C is that, despite its light weight, at 29.9mm it is rather thick - especially when compared to the svelte Toshiba Portégé R600. It's still a fairly nice-looking machine for its sector, but if you want a stylish 12.1in business laptop you're better off with the (admittedly more expensive) Dell Latitude E4200.
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When closed, the A600 shows off the chromed and indented Toshiba logo on its lid, which complements the machine's overall semi-matte silver finish rather well. Thanks to its LED-backlit screen, the lid is very thin at less than half a centimetre. It is also slightly smaller than the laptop's base so that the backlit icons in the palm-rest are visible on the protruding base with the laptop closed.

Opening the lid, most will be pleased to hear the screen is surrounded by a matte black bezel, though there's a small glossy section for the webcam. Aside from a couple of chromed touches for the power button and around the touchpad , though, the A600 is substance over style, so you needn't worry about tiresome fingerprints or scratch-prone glossy plastics.
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Build quality is also generally impressive, with the flimsy-seeming light plastic holding up well under pressure without a hint of creak or more flex than is healthy. Unfortunately the optical drive area is an exception: even light pressure at the laptop's bottom here displays an alarming amount of give, leaving the drive bay cover vulnerable to snapping off in a fall, while pressing down at the top results in noticeable flex.

While not quite up to the excellent effort found on HP's Compaq 2230s, the spill-proof keyboard on the Portégé A600-14C is first-rate. Layout is as good as space allows, with a proper UK-style Enter key and large Ctrl-key to the outside of the Fn key. Feedback is decent despite the slightly shallow travel and keys have a nice positive click.
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Sporting a subtle textured surface, the touchpad is large and comfortable. Its buttons might feature a chromed (i.e. slippery) finish, but their shape and placement makes them easy enough to use despite being a tad on the small side. However, this is the one high-maintenance area of the Portégé A600-14C, since the chrome buttons and their surround love fingerprints almost as much as we love technology - not the smartest design-choice on Toshiba's part.

Between the pad's buttons is nestled a fingerprint scanner, a feature found on most business and even many consumer laptops, though we'd recommend using it in conjunction with - rather than instead of - a password.

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