The 4.8-pound Portege M400 measures 11.6 inches wide, 9.8 inches deep, and 1.6 inches thick--making it a bit bulkier than other convertible tables with 12.1-inch displays, such as the 4.8-pound Fujitsu LifeBook T4020 and the 3.6-pound Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet. Though the Portege M400's AC adapter tacks on another pound, the total package is still light enough for semifrequent travel and short stints of clipboard-style note-taking.
Like most convertible tablets, the Portege M400's screen swivels between landscape and portrait modes, automatically switching its orientation in midswivel. The display appears bright and clear both indoors and outside. Its standard 1,024x768 native resolution doesn't provide minute graphics detail or tons of screen real estate but makes for big, readable text. Two preset buttons alongside the screen serve to manually change the display's orientation and call up Windows Task Manager, while two other buttons can be programmed to launch the applications of your choice. Finally, a biometric fingerprint sensor sits in the screen's corner, providing an easy and secure way to log on to Windows and access other password-protected content.
The Portege M400's keyboard is on the smaller side, but we were able to type for an hour or two without cramping our hands. The touch pad and mouse buttons are also small, even for a tablet, yet tolerable. We experienced no problems with the included stylus, though its plastic construction seems a bit cheap; we did appreciate the handy "eraser" on its end, which works just like a pencil eraser on your digital notes. As with most tablets, the M400 has a built-in microphone for on-the-fly dictation and recording. Two integrated speakers reside in the far upper corners above the keyboard, where their mediocre sound is partially obscured by the lid, whether it's in laptop or tablet mode. A convenient wheel on the front edge helps you adjust the volume.
You'll discover a pretty typical mix of ports, jacks, and slots on the Portege M400. The list includes FireWire, VGA, and three USB 2.0 ports; headphone and microphone jacks; and one Type II PC Card slot, as well as a 5-in-1 flash media card slot. The M400 can connect to networks via 56K modem, Ethernet, or 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi. The tablet also offers a hot-swappable bay for an optical drive; our unit included a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005 comes preloaded on the Toshiba Portege M400, along with a nice assortment of additional software, such as Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, for stylus note-taking; the Microsoft Works mini-productivity suite; Toshiba's EasyGuard security and utilities suite, which includes a Trusted Platform Module and hard-drive protection capabilities; and various applications for disc playing and burning.
We tested the $1,699 Toshiba Portege M400-S933, which sells for hundreds less than competing tablets with lesser specs. The unit includes a 1.66GHz Intel Core Solo processor; a standard 512MB of memory running at a fast 667MHz; a respectably sized 80GB hard drive spinning at an average 5,400rpm; and integrated Intel 950 graphics. Both the $1,949 Fujitsu LifeBook T4020 and $1,899 Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet offer older Pentium M processors and smaller hard drives.