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Toshiba Portege A100 - Toshiba Portégé A100
The next part of the ergonomic equation is the keyboard, and again Toshiba has come up trumps. Despite the small chassis, the keyboard is excellent. The keys are a good size and there is a decent amount of travel with a solid break. Each key feels like it's independant of the next and there is no evident flex no matter how fast or hard you type. Despite the small dimensions the important keys have still been made larger. The Enter, Shift and Backspace keys are all large, although the Enter key is still slightly smaller than on a full size keyboard. Also, the cursor keys are dropped slightly down from the main keyboard for easy manipulation. While the Ctrl key is in the correct place at the bottom left of the keyboard, making it easy for anyone that uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts. In order to keep the main keys a decent size, Toshiba has moved the Esc, Home, End, PrtSc, and Windows keys above the main keyboard, next to the Function keys. I have no doubt that some users would find this inconvenient, but for me it's a perfectly satisfactory compromise.
Unfortunately the pointing device can't quite live up to the high quality keyboard and screen. That's not to say that the touchpad is terrible, because it's not. Most of the time it provides smooth and accurate pointer manipulation, but once in a while it will become erratic and refuse to go where you want it to. The brushed aluminum selector buttons look great and also have a solid feel to them, but it would have been nice to have a scroll button to help navigate long documents and web pages.
Just below the screen you'll find a square power button that's surrounded with a blue light when the machine is powered on. It really does seem that a product can't be deemed "stylish" these days without a blue light of some kind. I was at first worried that I would find the blue light distracting and that it would draw my gaze downwards away from the screen, but that didn't turn out to be the case. To the left of the glowing power button are two shortcut buttons, one for your email client and the other for your web browser.
To the right of the power button is something far more interesting - a shortcut to the Toshiba console. Here you will gain access to some useful Toshiba utilities, like being able to configure the email and web browser buttons to launch whichever program you want, and a shortcut to the pointing device configuration menu. An interesting inclusion was the utility to switch the optical drive between normal mode or quiet mode - in quiet mode it will limit the amount of acoustic intrusion by reducing the spin rate of the drive. The Toshiba Console will also let you alter your power management, change your security settings and configure your networking. All in all this is a pretty good little application and puts all the important configuration options in one place.