Wednesday, July 06, 2005

M4 Page 10

Pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Pictures



Conclusion

Pros
HUGE 14.1” SXGA+ display
Fast Sonoma/Centrino chipset
Real (non-integrated) GeForce GO 6600TE video card
Toshiba Power Saver software
Integrated optical drive (DVD+/-RW DL)
Good wireless performance

Cons
Size
Weight
Battery life
So-so screen viewing angle
Bloatware
Lack of included recovery disk

Overall Conclusion
I got the M4 because of its huge screen and haven’t regretted it. Granted, the viewing angle is so-so, but when looked at from straight on it’s absolutely beautiful. I didn’t have any illusions of a small or lightweight unit and got exactly what I expected. I won’t need the high performance of the Sonoma chipset or NVidia video card often, but I will certainly be glad I have it when it is needed. Battery life isn’t great, but isn’t terrible and I expect to get a more reasonable life when the secondary battery arrives. The bloatware is most aggravating, but once you get it removed it is no longer an issue (until you need to reformat, of course).

And now the big question: would I buy it again? Yes, despite all its drawbacks, the massive screen on the M4 makes it worthwhile for my needs. Read that part again: for my needs. If you are looking for something highly portable and easy to use while standing for long periods of time, go for something thin and light. But if you need more laptop than Tablet, lots of screen real estate, or plenty of computing horsepower, the M4 is for you.

Looking back at this review, it ended up being a lot longer and a lot more work than I originally anticipated, but hopefully it’ll prove helpful to some of you. If you want to learn more about Tablets in general or other brands and models, I highly recommend heading over to TabletPCBuzz, my favorite site on the subject.

Tablet of Contents

1. Opening comments, Introduction, Convertible v. Slate, Specifications, Packaging/Contents, and Secret Decoder Ring

2. Body and Design, Build Quality Issues, Size and Weight

3. Screen Mini-Review I: Resolution, Brightness, and Glare

4. Screen Mini-Review II: Outdoor Viewing

5. Screen Mini-Review III: Viewing Angle

6. Setup, RAM Upgrade, Background Processes

7. Toshiba Power Saver, Undervolting/Centrino Hardware Control, and Battery Life

8. Timings, Video Driver and 3DMark03 Performance, and Sound

9. Software

10. Conclusion

11. High Quality Pictures

29 Comments:

At 2:12 AM, Anonymous James Montague said...

Kudos! A wonderful un-biased review of the Tecra M4.

 
At 3:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent review!
Could you post a link to the TabletPCBuzz article you used when updating your NVidia drivers? There is different information given in different places on that site.

 
At 11:12 AM, Blogger Shawn said...

There were two threads that I used as a basis to figure out how to update the drivers. The first is this one (especially the more recent posts toward the end):
http://www.tabletpcbuzz.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=16600
The one above is directed toward the M200, so not everything applies to the M4. The second thread I used (and considered more important) was this:
http://www.tabletpcbuzz.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=24503&SearchTerms=Heat
It is recent and all about the M4. I'd read the whole thing, but the key part starts around the post where spybyscript starts with "WOOHOO!" I sort of merged the procedures between the two threads to get my strategy, but I'm afraid I don't remember exactly how I did it.
Hope this helps!

 
At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review, exactly what I wanted to know especially about the screen!

 
At 11:33 PM, Anonymous Catherine said...

What a refreshing review! You really covered a lot of territory in your review. Well Done!

 
At 8:29 AM, Blogger John said...

I really like your review! Toshiba makes great machines. I love my R15!

 
At 5:54 AM, Anonymous mark said...

Shawn, thanks for taking the time to write up this review. It's helped me a lot to decide if I should buy this machine. I will be.

 
At 4:35 AM, Anonymous Walter Hutchens said...

Well done. Thanks for sharing all this info. I like your analytical approach.

One frustration of buying a tablet is that no store offers enogh models to compare, and the M4 isn't, so far as I know, in ANY retail store. So this kind of review really helps people considering a major purchase.

I had a Satellite Toshiba M45 whose "trubrite" screen I loved. I now have a Toshiba R15 tablet, which I like, except that I miss the M45's screen, esp. for editing photos. Your review is tempting me to trade the R15 in on an M4!

 
At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Falk said...

Great to see another Purdue student making use of this machine. If many more pop up, we'll have to organize an M4 User's support group.

Great review; had any ink-related problems with the updated video drivers?

 
At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's worse than just the stores not having actual units around to play with. The stores that have ANY units often REFUSE to unlock the machines to allow you to try them out. BestBuy here refused 3 seperate times my request that they unchain the M205 I wanted to try out so I could get a feel for the weight and tabletness of it. I wrote to their corporate headquarters and they simply echoed that that is their policy. Did they really think I was going to run off with it? *GROWL* And they wonder why they are losing sales to online retailers? If they cannot add any value then what is the point of paying more for the product?!!? *SNARL*

 
At 6:08 PM, Blogger Michael Parekh said...

great review...true labor of love...especially liked the sxga and xga screen comparisons...

I know the unit is heavy at 6.2 lbs, but how does it feel when you do use it in tablet mode? obviously too heavy to hold in one hand while using the pen in the other, but do you find you often use it in tablet mode with the unit on a table?

thanks again.

 
At 2:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting review. Many of your observations are similar to those I've made regarding my Toshiba Satellite R10. The R10 is reasonably good as a standard laptop and I really appreciate the large screen area but the R10's viewing angle is sufficiently poor that I find myself using it more and more in standard laptop mode where the viewing angle is straight on. Its really unfortunate that Toshiba and some of the other tablet vendors don't realize that the natural writing position for a tablet puts it somewhat off to the side of the user. I find that in this position the vertical orientation is all but unusable and I'm forced to hover directly over the screen, a very uncomfortable position for me. In my opinion wide viewing angle screens should be standard equipment for all tablets.

 
At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the review. I might just go out and buy one now. You did a good job on your first try at a review. My only beef is that there is not a print view where i can read the entire article at once on the same page. Many other review sites have that. Other than that, great job!

 
At 5:42 AM, Anonymous Eric Mack said...

Shawn, thanks for posting such a detailed review. I've learned a few cool tips I'll have to go and try.

Best regards,

Eric

 
At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Maneesh said...

Hi Shawn, I have been reading tablet reviews since last week and till now would have read about a hundred. But, this one has been the best among those I came across. I was considering between M4/R10 or Acer 1GB/100GB c310 tablet. And had almost made up my mind to buy M4. But, now my problem is about outside usage (in the back yards or on the garden benches) and battery life, will R10 with a low resolution help solve any of those problems? Now, if those who own other models can follow......:)!

Thanks for all your effort, its extremely helpful.

 
At 10:49 PM, Anonymous Will said...

Thanks this was a great review!! I am planning on buying this but was wondering (other than aol) what other malware, ahhem i mean "useful" software comes preloaded with it??

 
At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought the M4 in June and while I am quite happy with it, I must say that I am VERY dissapointed with one aspect of their product. The optional bluetooth module that I ordered with the M4 came in a seperate box, without installation instructions. When I called support I got the answer I was expecting, to avoid voiding the warranty I would have to take it to an authorized service dealer for installation. Cost of the module: $109 CAD. Cost of installation: $80 CAD. It just burns me to have ordered the M4 with this feature only to have to pay to have it installed!

 
At 9:14 AM, Anonymous davouch said...

This was very helpful review. Thank U so much for making it in such a correct objective and analytic way.
Good job's been done here!
HOWGH! ;)

 
At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Ironclaw said...

Just wanted to say that your review is one of the key reasons I bought my M4 - a real review from a real person. - Oh and real pictures help. Toshiba's site is not helpful in that respect.

I have not had a single problem with my M4 in a months time now. I had never realized how much I would use the tablet functionalities - I can just say that I am sure glad I got it a month BEFORE going back to school.. it takes a little time to learn what NEW things you can do with a tablet.. I stated NEW because I have not yet found something at which this tablet can't run as efficently as any other laptop.

I have 2GB ram installed- and never see my M4 slow down - I suggest you get 3rd party memory as its cheaper - but do the ugrade.

Also - as a side note. Get the 128MB video card upgrade. Its worth it. I have since stopped playing games on my 2 year old desktop. Yes the M4 does 3D - and well.

FFXI online is no problem at 1400x1500 on max graphics settings. I was surprised that the graphics on the M4 screen top my PS2 by far - even when the PS2 is hooked to my hdtv..

Oh - and my bluetooth came installed.. what gives there??

Last note - toshiba's offer of no payments or interest for the first year got screwed up. I have my account as a conventional credit card with interest.. and the Indian tech support guy for the credit card cant change it. Suggest you beware if you go that route.

 
At 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

folks

can u tell me??? what memory u folks bought the details.... there are questions on how many pins etc on newegg dont know which is the right one...

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger Kris Van Nest said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger Kris Van Nest said...

Hi M4 users,

1st, great review (& comments)-- really helps plan purchases.

My main question is about the actual screen: I'm psyched to find a TabletPC that has such a good video card, but I've heard from at least one review elsewhere that the actual screen is (a) too big to visually "scan" easily when in tablet mode, and (b) too wobbly (bobs or jiggles) when typing in notebook mode.

Can any M4 users comment on this?

BTW, I'd actually love to get the HP tc4200 TabletPC, especially since I'll be using the DVI port on either the HP or Toshiba expansion bays. But the tc4200's built in video card (Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900) is the [major] weak link for me.

Thanks!

-KV

 
At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you that was one of the best most helpful reviews ive come across so far in my search for a new tablet

 
At 6:32 PM, Blogger Olukayode said...

Just wanna say, God bless you for taking the time out to write such a wonderful review along with detailed pictures. I've had sleepless nights trying to choose between Acer C314 and Tecra M4. I have always tend to gravitate towards acer because my present laptop is acer and has performed wonderfully well, C314 also offers a whooping 100G, 1G RAM and bluetooth! But the high resolution screen I've seen is now making me gravitate towards M4. Keep up the good work, Shawn.

 
At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent review!

Hey guys, the new Toshiba Protege M400 Tablet PC is out!!! Let us know if someone is going to do review on this one.

 
At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant Review! Well Written, Well Organized! Thank-you for going through the time to share that.
THANKS!
New M4 Owner

 
At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Stacey said...

Great stuff - I am anxiously waiting for the arrival of my new M4. Since I spent a little more dough on this baby than some of the others I looked at, I am suffering from a bit of buyer's remorse. So I went looking for justification and you definitlely gave it to me. So now I don't feel the need to read another review. Thanks man. You quelled my need for proof that I made the right choice.

 
At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Shichi said...

Wow.. that was insanely helpful~! thanks so much, it's so hard to rely on reviews on other sites from "prfessionals",so hearing what someone who actually has the laptop and uses it on a daily basis as their primary computer is awesome.
Thanks again~! :>

 
At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how do i re-install my pen tablet software.
rgds,joke

 

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