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Toshiba Portege S100 review: Toshiba Portege S100

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The Good Large touch pad and mouse buttons; internal hot-swappable bay; external Wi-Fi on/off switch; wireless software utility.

The Bad Very short battery life; loud fan; runs exceptionally hot.

The Bottom Line The Portege S100 offers business travelers a compact design and lots of speed, but it lacks one of the things they need most: long battery life.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.2 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 5
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 3
  • Support 4

Review Sections

Toshiba Portege S100

The Toshiba Portege S100, a thin-and-light laptop, features a swappable bay--handy for adding an optical drive, an additional hard drive, or an extra battery--and a large screen in a featherweight case. It also includes a fast current-generation Centrino processor that helped it earn stellar scores in our performance benchmarks; unfortunately, the system did not excel when it came to battery life.

The Portege S100 falls on the slim-and-trim end of the thin-and-light spectrum, measuring 12.5 inches wide, 10.5 inches deep, and 1.2 inches thick and weighing 4.4 pounds. The similarly designed Fujitsu LifeBook S7010 weighs one-tenth of an ounce less, and the 4.2-pound Sony VAIO VGN-S260 has a smaller 13.3-inch screen. The Portege S100's heavy AC adapter weighs almost 1 pound, bringing the system's total weight to nearly 5.5 pounds.

Toshiba has built some welcome oversize design features into the Portege S100's fairly petite case, the most obvious of which is the big 14.1-inch display. The touch pad and the mouse buttons are also roomier than those of many larger portables. The primary QWERTY keys are full-size as well, though some keys, such as Home and Page Up, measure about half the size of standard keys. To the keyboard's left lie two buttons; you can program the first to launch any application you want; the second controls the resolution when exporting video to a TV, an external monitor, or a digital projector. A handy switch on the Portege S100's front edge lets you easily turn the Wi-Fi radio on and off (helpful for conserving battery life), so you need not navigate through the software. A useful volume wheel on the front edge lets you adjust sound levels with your thumb. Finally, there's a loud fan that cools the Portege S100's processor; though it runs almost incessantly, you can still feel the processor's heat emanating from the left side of the wrist rest, which can be uncomfortable.

When it comes to connections, the Portege S100 offers a decent array of ports, jacks, and slots: FireWire, standard VGA, infrared, and two side-by-side USB 2.0 ports; Gigabit Ethernet, 56Kbps modem, headphone, and microphone jacks; and one slot apiece for Type II PC Cards and SD cards. Our test system came preloaded with the Windows XP Professional operating system, the pared-down Microsoft Works 8.0 productivity suite, Sonic RecordNow 7.0 to assist with CD burning, and Toshiba's ConfigFree utility, which includes a nifty wireless-configuration tool. Last but not least, the Portege S100 protects your data in two significant ways: it includes a Trusted Platform Module chip, which acts like a virtual storage locker, and a hard drive protection system that automatically stops your drive from rotating when it detects excessive motion (read: when you drop it).

The Portege S100 is available only through Toshiba's Web site and toll-free sales line. It comes in just two different variants, and unfortunately, you can't configure your own system to better suit your particular needs. Check out CNET's Portege S100 series review for the two versions' specific components.

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