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Toshiba Portege S100 review: Toshiba Portege S100

The Toshiba Portege S100 offers a 14.1-inch display and a hot-swappable bay in a case that weighs an exceptionally light 4.4 pounds. The laptop also includes a fast Intel Pentium M processor, which helped it earn stellar scores but took a considerable toll on battery life.

Stephanie Bruzzese
4 min read
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 Portege S100

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.

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.

We tested the more expensive configuration, the $2,099 (as of June 2005) Toshiba Portege S100-S213TD, which offers a decent selection of parts for its price range. It includes an Intel Pentium M processor running at a fast 2GHz; an average 512MB of quick 400MHz memory; a generous 14.1-inch display with a fine 1,400x1,050 native resolution; and a fairly sizable 60GB hard drive that spins at a speedy 5,400rpm. The laptop also ships with a capable 64MB Nvidia GeForce Go 6200 TE graphics chip as well as a DVD/CD-RW drive in a swappable bay --though not the DVD burner we'd expect from a laptop in this price range--and an Intel Pro Wireless 802.11b/g card. Compare that to the competing Fujitsu LifeBook S7010, which costs more and has a slower processor but provides a larger hard drive and a DVD burner.

The Portege S100 quickly dispensed with the basic office tasks it encountered in CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks. It beat the Fujitsu LifeBook S7010 (which costs $200 more) by 7 percent and ran 9 percent faster than the similarly priced VAIO VGN-S260, though both the Fujitsu and the Sony were configured with slower 1.7GHz Pentium M processors. The Portege S100 didn't keep up the good work in our battery drain tests, however, lasting a short 173 minutes compared with 229 minutes for the VAIO VGN-S260 and 220 minutes for the LifeBook S7010. Clearly, the Portege S100 isn't cut out for long stints away from a wall socket.

While many corporate laptops now come with a standard three-year warranty, the Portege S100 ships with a single year of postage-paid mail-in service. Toshiba provides many warranty-extension options, including four years of service, onsite repair, and accidental-damage protection, for prices on a par with those of other vendors. You can call Toshiba's toll-free 24/7 tech-support line during your warranty period. The company's support Web site supplies the standard troubleshooting and download information in addition to a link to the useful laptop forum run by the Windows Users Group Network.

Mobile application performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

Battery life
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

System configurations:
Fujitsu LifeBook S7010
Windows XP Pro; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M 735; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME 64MB; Hitachi DK23FA-80 80GB 4,200rpm
Sony VAIO VGN-S260
Windows XP Home; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M 735; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 32MB; Toshiba MK6025GAS 60GB 4,200rpm
Toshiba Portege S100
Windows XP Home; 2GHz Intel Pentium M 760; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM PC3200 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce Go 6600 TE 64M/6600 TE 128M 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2060BH 5,400rpm in RAID-0


Toshiba Portege S100

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 5Performance 7Battery 3Support 4