Joining the ultra-low voltage CPU and integrated graphics is 3GB of RAM, which is all the installed 32-bit version of Windows Vista Business can realistically cope with anyway. While on the topic of the OS, a ‘downgrade’ to Windows XP Professional is available through Toshiba’s Recovery DVD included with the laptop, which will doubtless be a big bonus for some.
Another unexpected but welcome touch is the Portégé’s speedy and generous 7,200rpm 320GB hard drive, which has a positive impact on performance compared to the slower 5,400rpm drives found on most notebooks. Not only that, but as a part of Toshiba’s EasyGuard business program this disk is protected by a 3D sensor that freezes the drive heads if it detects a fall. While we’re on business features, TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 1.2 is also part of the package, as is Intel’s vPro remote management technology.
Toshiba’s work-oriented laptop is equally well-specified on the wireless front, with Draft N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 plus EDR and of course mobile broadband (otherwise known as 3G or HSDPA), which currently goes up to a theoretical speed of about 7.2Mbps in the UK. As usual, the sim-slot for 3G is found behind the battery, and in this case it has its own little lock switch to hold the card in securely when the battery is removed.
Speaking of the battery, it has a 5,800mAh capacity, and as you might expect from a system based on an ultra-low voltage processor the A600’s battery life is excellent. Though not quite up to the seven and a half hour maximum claimed by Toshiba, in MobileMark 2007’s Reader test the laptop managed over five and a half hours with the display set to 40 per cent brightness and all wireless connections turned off. Though the screen is too dark for comfort with brightness set to minimum, at around 20 per cent it’s mostly usable, so with frugal use you could eke out even more. Combined with a weight of 1.46kg, the A600-14C is a very portable machine.
Finally there’s the issue of price, except that with the A600-14C it’s not really much of one. After all, while £921 excluding VAT (£1,059.90 inc. VAT) isn’t cheap by normal standards, for a laptop combining as many features as this it’s actually very good value. It is, in every sense, a complete package and one that’s considerably more affordable than many ultra-portables.
Toshiba’s Portégé A600-14C makes a very convincing argument for itself. It’s light and portable, but manages to pack in loads of features, including integrated HSDPA and all the security features you’d normally expect from a business laptop. Only a collection of minor niggles and a slight concern over build quality precludes it from an award, but there’s still plenty to commend here.