Toshiba Tecra A10

A sturdy and boring device that needs more RAM.

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Toshiba Tecra A10
  • Toshiba Tecra A10
  • Toshiba Tecra A10
  • Toshiba Tecra A10

Pros

  • Sturdy chassis, powerful CPU, good range of expansion ports

Cons

  • Heavy, not enough RAM, boring design

Bottom Line

The Toshiba Tecra A10's excellent CPU is wasted thanks to a puny 1GB of RAM. If you want a decent machine with a sub-$1500 price tag, then this is a device worth considering — as long as you upgrade the memory.

Would you buy this?

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In the current economic climate, most users looking to buy a notebook will be asking one question above all others: does it give me value for money? Sadly, the Toshiba Tecra A10 doesn't.

The 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 processor should supply the Tecra with plenty of kick. Unfortunately, this notebook only ships with 1GB of DDR2 RAM, which is not enough to supply a comfortable user experience, especially with the memory-hungry Windows Vista operating system. A 160GB hard drive that spins at 5400rpm is also installed; this is fairly typical for the notebook's price point and offers plenty of space for business users.

The lack of RAM had an impact on our WorldBench 6 testing, with the Toshiba returning a score of 78. This indicates an ability to run office tasks fairly smoothly, but heavy multitasking and performing hardware-intensive tasks, like 3-D rendering, will lead to system lag. If you're interested in buying this device, and want it to run smoothly, make sure you purchase additional RAM (and factor in the extra cost).

The CPU’s strength was shown by our iTunes benchmarking, during which we convert 53min of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s. The time of 1min 12sec is speedy and is what we expected.

If you were hoping for good graphics performance, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. The integrated graphics component on the Intel GM45 chipset isn’t designed for intensive 3-D gaming, and this was highlighted by the A10’s low score of 751 in 3DMark06. If you want to play games, then only contender anywhere near the A10's price is the ASUS X55SV-AS081C.

From the gunmetal grey colouring, to the small left- and right-click buttons, the A10 has the tried and true business style that can also be seen in the Tecra A9 (PTS52A-OCU03F) and the Tecra M9 (PTM90A-0CL03H).

The notebook's design is quite sturdy and simple, and the full-size keyboard is easy to type with. The touchpad lacks traction but senses movements without any problems. The click buttons are quite small, but most users will get used to this.

The Tecra’s 15.4in screen has a native resolution of 1280x800. The vertical and horizontal viewing angles are rather narrow, but the unit displays images and movies crisply and with good contrast.

More impressive is the range of expansion options. Three standard USB 2.0 ports are included, as is a dual-use USB 2.0/e-SATA port. A D-sub port allows users to connect external displays and a FireWire port provides easy data transfers for devices like camcorders. A 3-in-1 card reader (xD, MS, MSPro) is found on the left side of the device below a Type 2 PC card slot. A serial port is also included, which is handy when programming or accessing data from electronic devices.

Network connectivity is well-catered for thanks to a built-in Gigabit Ethernet port and the 802.11n wireless adapter; a 56Kbps modem is thrown in just in case.

The unit weighs 2.75kg without a power supply and 3.2kg with it. This is heavier than we’d like to see for a unit this size, so make sure you’re happy with the heft before you buy it. The battery lasted 1hr 40min in our DVD rundown test, which is 10min above average.

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