I've never been completely convinced by the Tablet PC concept. It may look good in medical dramas and sci-fi shows when characters busily tap away at tablet devices, but you have to remember one thing about that - they're not doing anything! If you've ever actually tried to control a PC in portrait tablet mode you'll be well aware that it's far from a simple procedure. The other issue I have is that Tablet PCs aren't particularly light either, so if you're planning to spend your entire day wandering around work holding one like a clipboard, you might want to put some time in at the gym first. It's therefore with some trepidation that I'm looking at the Portégé M700 - Toshiba's latest thin and light Tablet notebook.
Before getting bogged down with the "tabletness" of the M700, let's take a look at the notebook basics. What you're getting is a 12.1in machine, that's slightly heavier and bulkier than a non-tablet model would be. Toshiba quotes a weight of 2kg for the M700, and placing the machine on the TrustedReviews scales proved that estimate to be spot on. That's pretty weighty for a 12.1in machine, especially when you consider that the last 12.1in Toshiba notebook I reviewed was the feather-like Portégé R500, which weighed in at only 755g! It's a slightly chunky beast too measuring 305 x 239 x 37 (WxDxH).
The screen sports a native resolution of 1,280 x 800, which is pretty much par for the course on a 12.1in display. What's surprising is that the screen is reasonably bright, despite having both a touch-screen surface, and tablet digitiser pen characteristics. OK, so it's not as bright as many other notebooks and lacks the high contrast coating that has become so popular of late, but for office use, which is where this machine is aimed, the screen is pretty good. If there's one down side, it's that the viewing angles are fairly narrow, but that's unavoidable with a touch screen.
Keeping things in a notebook orientation, opening up the M700 reveals a somewhat disappointing keyboard. For some reason the keys feel smaller than they should be on a 12.1in machine, while the travel feels somewhat shallow and unresponsive. I found it hard to build up a good typing rate on the M700 as the keys just felt slightly dead under my fingers. Part of the problem is the excessive amount of flex exhibited by the keyboard, with large sections visibly flexing with each key press. On the plus side, the layout is good, with the Ctrl key in the bottom left corner where it should be, thus making keyboard shortcuts easy to manage.