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Toshiba Portege M750

Toshiba's Tablet PC convertible
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

In mid-October 2008, Toshiba began showing a new version of their Tablet PC convertible. It was essentially the Portege M700 updated to Centrino 2 technology. The M750 has since been updated and pricing has come way down.

Pen computing historians know that Toshiba has a long history in slates and tablet computers, going all the way back to the early 1990s when the company introduced pen tablets and borrowed the name "Dynabook" for them. That term, of course, had initially been coined by Alan Kay who conceived the Dynabook as a "dynamic medium for creative thought," capable of synthesizing all media - pictures, animation, sound, and text - through the intimacy and responsiveness of the personal computer. In the early and mid-1990s, Toshiba sold its Dynabook T100 and T200 pen tablets, and to this day Toshiba uses the Dynabook name for its notebooks in Japan (go see dynabook.com).

As is, the Portege M7500 is pretty much the last remaining pen product in Toshiba's lineup, here or anywhere else.

The M750 uses a powerful 2.5GHz P8600 processor with a thermal design power of just 25 watts as compared to the 35 watts dissipated by the 2.1GHz T8100 used in the M700. The M750 also comes with all the other Centrino 2 goodies, like the new Intel Mobile X4500 Express chipset that supports Intel's vPro technology, and the WiFi Link 5100 miniPCIe card that supports the WiFi draft-N standard (and can possibly be extended to support WiMAX). Disk technology also has not stood still, and the M750 can be had with a speedy 7200rpm 200GB disk. The internal Ultra Slim Sepect Bay includes a Super-Multi double layer optical drive.

The display still measures 12.1 inches diagonally. Older Toshiba Tablet PCs (like the Portege M200 or Tecra M4) offered a standard XGA (1024 x 768 pixel) version and a high resolution SXGA+ (1400 x 1050 pixel) version. For now, the only display available with the new machine is a WXGA (1280 x 800 pixel) indoor/outdoor viewable LCD with anti-glare treatment. Like the M700, the M750 has both an active digitizer and a touch screen. Switching between the two is automatic.

The M750 remains a very functional, albeit not very exciting, machine. It is a notebook convertible that can be used as a standard laptop, as a slate, or anything inbetween. The M750 measures 12 x 9.4 x 1.5 inches and weighs about 4.4 pounds. That's almost a pound more than the Lenovo ThinkPad X20t that was introduced in September of 2008, but the Lenovo doesn't have an internal optical drive. There are some basic ruggedness provisions like a spill-resistant keyboard and Toshiba provides some environmental specs. They aren't very serious, though, and with a 41 to 95 degree Fahrenheit operating temperature range it's clear that this is a machine for indoors.

On the connectivity side, you get IEEE1394 Firewire and three USB 2.0 ports, a 5-in-1 card reader (SD/MMC Cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, and xD-Picture Card), modem, gigabit LAN, audio in/out, microphone, port replicator, and a PC Card slot Type II. There's also a VGA vidcam for videoconferencing. From what we can tell, no mention of a fingerprint reader, Smart Card or advanced wireless.

To be honest, on the surface the M750 doesn't sound very exciting, at least not compared with the much more involved effort Lenovo made with the ThinkPad X200t. On the other hand, Toshiba has tons of experience with Tablet PCs and some of them still do duty in the RuggedPCReview.com office. And we do appreciate the integrated optical drive.

Update November 2009: Toshiba announced more powerful Intel Core 2 Duo processors for the venerable M750. The machine is now available in a starter edition for just US1,279 that includes a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T6600 (35W TDP), a US$1,699 midrange version with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo P8600 (25W TDP), and a high-end version with a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo T9400 (35W TDP). Prices have come down drastically, but the problem is that overall notebook prices have dropped even more.

Added/changed: Added 10/2008; updated 11/2009
Form-factor Notebook Convertible
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6600/P8600/T9400
CPU Speed 2.2/2.4/2.53GHz
OS Windows XP Tablet/Windows Vista/Windows 7
Chipset Intel GMA 4500MHD
Standard/Max RAM up to 8GB DDR2 800MHz
Disk/drive from 160GB 5400rpm SATA
Card slots 1 PC Card Type II, 5-1 card reader
Display type Indoor/outdoor wide viewing angle TFT
Display size/res 12.1-inch/WXGA (1280 x 800 pixels)
Digitizer/pens Wacom (Multi-touch optional)/1
Keyboard/scale Spill-resistant 85-key integrated 100%-scale
Operating temperature 41-95 degrees Fahrenheit
Shock 7G operating
Vibration 0.2G operating
Housing Magnesium-alloy
Size (WxHxD) 12.0 x 9.4 x 1.5
Weight 4.4 lbs.
Power 6-cell 4,700mAH Li-Ion ("up to 4.3 hours")
Interface 3 USB 2.0, video, gigabit RJ45, audio in/out, 1 speaker, microphone, IEEE1394, modem, 5-1 card reader, docking, 0.3 megapixel vidcam
Interface Intel WiFi Link 5100 (AGN), Bluetooth v2.1 with EDR
List price Starting at $2,199 (as of October 2008); Starting at US$1,279 (as of November 2009)
Web RuggedPC Review