Toshiba Portege R400 (with HSDPA) review: Toshiba Portege R400 (with HSDPA)

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The Good Excellent usability. Lightweight yet relatively rugged. Perfectly suited to Vista.

The Bad Exorbitant price. Ancient specs. Keyboard flexes when typed on. Mono sound. No webcam. Heavy. Tiny touchpad. Screen rotate disables 3G in one direction, degrades quality in another.

The Bottom Line The last year has not been kind to Toshiba's Portege R400. While it retains the advantage of being a tablet, in all other respects the rest of the ultraportable crowd have left it well behind.

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5.0 Overall

Review Sections

Design and Features
What a difference a year can make. Toshiba's R400 made quite the impression when it was launched — a small, lightweight, brilliantly sensitive tablet that packed in features with some serious style.

Now, it's boxy and large for what's offered inside, and is seriously out of style and overpriced. The tiny, super-recessed touch pad. The squishy mouse buttons. The keyboard that flexes in the middle whenever you type. The lack of optical drive, despite the size of the laptop and that the smaller Portege R500 has one. The tablet-screen that only rotates one way. The old PCMCIA slot, and Windows Sideshow module — a technology that has died a death of a thousand non-adoptions since the R400's initial release. And finally, most horrendously — the hardware has not been updated in over a year, all that differs is the insertion of a Telstra-certified HSPDA module, which apparently justifies an AU$400 increase over the RRP from a year ago.

The tablet screen is still fantastically sensitive and accurate, although when using the stylus it feels a bit like a ballpoint pen with a ball that occasionally sticks, meanwhile the screen coating feels uneven and rough in some patches and smooth in others.

It's still a 12.1-inch, 1,280x800 tablet, with the OS auto-switching the display between portrait and landscape modes when you flip the screen around and convert from laptop to tablet mode. A button can be held down on the screen to rotate the screen in whichever direction you're holding it, which works fine, so long as the end pointing away from you is inclined upwards. While this presents no issues for two of the rotations, when in secondary portrait mode (with the right of the screen facing away from the fingerprint scanner) the 3G module disables itself, and when in secondary landscape mode (with the top of the screen facing the fingerprint scanner), the fonts are fuzzy and unclear.

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