There was a time when Online contributors would keep an eye out for their "ideal" laptops. The last Windows one that received unanimous acclaim in the face of Apple's definitions of what constitutes cool laptop design was Toshiba's Portege R100. With its ultra-slim design, created by relegating disc drives to the role of add-ons, this Portege has even found its way into the illustrious on-screen companionship of television newscasters - product placement to rival the iBook.
For those who need an optical drive as well as portability and connectivity, Toshiba has come up with the Portege M100 which is equipped with a DVD-Rom drive. While significantly thicker and heavier (1.9Kg4.7lbs), it is just as polished and well finished as its lightweight sibling. Its 12.1-inch screen might not be ideal for very long periods of work but you can always connect it to a larger screen on your desk through the video-out port. And the compact, firm keyboard is more than adequate.
It has all the connectivity of the R100 - ethernet, wireless networking, infrared, two USB 2 ports, firewire, two PC card slots and one for a secure digital card - everything in fact except Bluetooth.
Battery life of around three hours even allows you to watch a movie without wires (an extra battery apparently yields a total of eight hours); with headphones connected to the sound-out port the manual volume control demonstrates the useful extra touches provided by Toshiba. The only thing I didn't like was the little stick in the middle of the keyboard (Accupoint) that you use to control the on-screen pointer. But plugging in a mouse sorts out that preference.
For anyone who has to travel and regularly needs a range of features, the Portege M100 is worth its price premium. It's the difference between having a laptop that does what you require and one you actually enjoy using.
Visitors to BETT 2004 will be able to check whether Toshiba's new Portege A100 for schools adhere's to the company's upmarket Portege design and connectivity benchmarks. It will be reviewed in the next issue of TES Online and watch out for a TESToshiba promotion to mark its launch.
Rock Pegasus CTS Laptop computer with 14.1-inch XGA TFT screen, up to 1Gb memory, up to 80Gb hard drive, DVDCD-RW combo drive, built-in video camera, modem, firewire, two USB ports, wireless networking
Price: pound;899 - Pentium Processor (1.4GHz), 256Mb memory; 30Gb hard drive; pound;999 - Pentium Processor (1.6GHz), 512Mb memory, 40Gb hard drive
Rock Stand F100 Tel: 08709 90 90 90 www.rockdirect.com
Fitness for purpose *** Ease of use ***** Design **** Value for money *****
RM nBook 2700 Laptop computer with 15-inch SXGA+ screen, Celeron processor (2.0GHz), 256Mb memory, 40Gb hard disc, 20x Cd-Rom drive, modem, ethernet, integrated 11Mb wifi (upgradable to trimode, faster wireless) and infrared, parallel port, three USB and one firewire port, twin PC-card slots, connection for external monitor, optional floppy disc drive.
Price: basic model from pound;569 model reviewed at around pound;750 (or around pound;730 if purchased online) RM E50D50 Tel: 08709 200200 www.rm.com
Fitness for purpose ***** Ease of use **** Design **** Value for money *****
Toshiba Portege M100 Laptop computer with Pentium Centrino processor (1.2GHz), 256Mb of memory, 40Gb hard disk, USB 2, firewire, ethernet, wireless, infrared, two PC card slots and one for secure digital cards.
Price: pound;1,299 Toshiba V40 Tel: 0870 2202202 www.freedomlearning.com
Fitness for purpose ***** Ease of use **** Design ***** Value for money ****