Regrettably, the keyboard is less inspiring. Layout is okay, with proper key placement and a full-sized Enter key. Toshiba has even managed to squeeze in dedicated Page Up and Down keys, but unlike the Dell XPS M1330, the End key is difficult to hit accurately, jammed in between Home and Insert.
And though tactile feedback is acceptable, there is a large amount of flex. This aside, keys have a decent amount of travel, but they still lack the assured ‘click’ better notebook keyboards provide. It’s by no means an unpleasant typing experience, but it just doesn’t feel as good as a majority of the competition.
There are no such problems with the touchpad. Its chromed buttons are a tad slippery, but easy to hit and the touchpad as a whole is nicely proportioned. It’s worth noting, though, that the only major source of heat that can be felt on the notebook’s surface is directly below this touchpad, meaning your fingers will usually touch a warm surface. It’s a bit disconcerting; though it might be nice in cold weather!
Toshiba continues its rather useful habit of marking ports with logical icons along the top, meaning you can plug things in without needing to look at the sides. Oddly enough, in addition to the modem jack that ever fewer users will care about, the major omission is the HDMI port, which is not marked at all.
Still, the M800 offers pretty much every form of connectivity you could want or need. The back only has a power jack, while on the left we find VGA, the aforementioned HDMI, a combined e-SATA and USB 2.0 port, a normal USB one, FireWire and audio in/out where the headphone socket doubles as S/PDIF. There’s also a 34mm ExpressCard slot, from which it’s a tad difficult to remove the plastic placeholder.
On the right, there are Ethernet and modem jacks, a another USB port and the DVD-writer. The front is kept fairly clean, featuring the wireless switch (with its own tiny red LED) and a memory card reader capable of reading SD, SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro and xD Card. Last but not least is another well-loved Toshiba hallmark, the volume wheel, which is still by far the most intuitive way to adjust noise levels – to my mind at least.
And that’s a good thing too, since you’re more likely to be using the volume than on most other notebooks. Like Toshiba’s excellent efforts on the Toshiba Satellite A300-177, the speakers on this notebook sound pretty amazing for their size. In fact, they confidently match and best those found on larger machines from some manufacturers.
At their maximum volume, where you can hear pretty much everything, there is hardly any distortion and Dolby Sound Room does a pretty good job of lending sound an extra dimension of depth. Moreover, plug in some headphones and you benefit from Dolby’s excellent virtual headphone technology.
Unfortunately, the 13.3in TruBrite screen just doesn’t match up to the brilliant audio performance. Though it’s bright and vibrant, viewing angles are very poor, with strong contrast shift at even slight angles. And though there is no sign of backlight bleed or banding, blacks are deep only at the cost of significant amounts of dark detail.