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Toshiba Portege A600-14C - 12.1in Laptop - Toshiba Portégé A600-14C
Connectivity on the A600-14C is a slight step above what we're used to from a portable business machine at this price point. While the lack of HDMI or any other form of digital video connection is expected, the presence of a combined eSATA/USB port is genuinely useful for faster data transfer speeds to external storage.
Looking around the machine, along the left we find a VGA port, power input, second USB port and 3.5mm audio connections, as well as Toshiba's signature volume scroll wheel. There are no connections at the front or rear, but on the right are housed a 54mm ExpressCard slot, an SD card reader, the Portégé's DVD-Re-writer drive, a third USB port and a Gigabit Ethernet socket. There's no modem, but then the integrated HSDPA is the first line of defence where Wi-Fi isn't available.
To help you control all the different wireless radios on the A600 there's a dedicated switch. This is situated on the right side, which makes it more difficult to reach than it need have been, but regular use will quickly alleviate this.
Like most business laptops, the A600's speakers are exceptionally weak. Not only do they lack volume, but an utter absence of bass combined with a shallow soundstage mean you really don't want to use these beyond the occasional YouTube video. Of course on a business machine good speakers really aren't that important, but it's worth keeping in mind if you need speakers for doing presentations.
Screen performance is also assessed slightly differently for a non-consumer laptop: poor viewing angles, for example, may actually be an advantage to help maintain privacy. Not that that's especially the case here, for despite woeful vertical viewing angles, the Toshiba's horizontal ones aren't bad.
Nor does the rest of the A600's12.1in 1,280 x 800 screen disappoint, with no sign of backlight bleed and minimal banding, fairly bright colours, sharp text and even okay greyscale performance. It's nothing special, but certainly adequate for both business and multimedia needs and its matte coating prevents glare or distracting reflections.
Getting to the internals of this light little machine, the cast is led by an Intel Core 2 Duo U9300 - as found in the stylish Samsung X360. This ultra-low voltage processor runs at 1.2GHz, which is even slower than an Atom. However, thanks to its superior architecture, faster front-side bus and larger cache its performance far outstrips even the fastest Atoms, all while maintaining a thrifty 10W TDP.
It offers more than enough power for general multi-tasking but struggles with CPU intensive activities like 1080p video, though videos with lower bit-rates/resolutions or more efficient codecs do fare better. Gaming is of course out of the question thanks to the integrated Intel GMA 4500H graphics chipset, which is frugal but feeble.