Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Toshiba Tecra A6 (PTA63A-004002)
- It has a decent set of features for its sub-$2000 price tag
- It's performance was slower than expected
A decent, but not particularly inspiring machine, the Tecra A6 will suit those who need an affordable business notebook.
Price$ 1,870.00 (AUD)
Toshiba's latest Tecra, the A6, is a fairly standard notebook. It offers nothing to differentiate itself from the pack, and its performance was a little below expectations in our tests. However, it did offer reasonable battery life and has a reasonably portable form factor, making it a solid but not outstanding product.
It runs a 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 T5500 CPU, 512MB of RAM and an ATI X1400 Mobility Radeon graphics processor. These specifications don't give the A6 a lot of power, but they make for a decent entry-level notebook. Our test results indicate that this machine is really only suitable for basic desktop tasks and the odd bout of gaming nostalgia.
Its score of 55 in World Bench 6 is fairly poor and a little below what we anticipated, given the specifications. Machines with similar, and even slightly slower CPUs have achieved better results. We put this down to the 512MB of RAM, which just isn't enough for a Windows Vista-based system. One gigabyte of RAM would give the A6 a nice little boost in performance, especially when multitasking.
The included Radeon X1400 graphics card does add a small amount of gaming power to the machine's resume. We originally ran 3DMark06, but the machine was barely able to make it through that test, so we kicked it back a few notches and ran 3DMark 2001, where it scored 9809. This shows that the system will be more than capable of playing some older titles. If you want a fairly inexpensive notebook for playing games, this notebook isn't ideal, it's more suited to Web surfing and office application use.
For connectivity, the Tecra A6 ships with gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0. There are also four USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire port, as well as a VGA port for an external monitor. Also present are a Type II PC card slot and a flash memory card reader, which supports most major card types, including Compact Flash, SD, MMC and xD.
The Tecra A6 has a good looking 14" widescreen display. It runs at a resolution of 1280x800 and should be sufficient for using office applications and browsing the Web. Watching DVDs, we found the display's colours to be a little dull and black levels could have been darker.
The keyboard on the Tecra A6 is raised fairly high for a notebook and makes more noise than we're accustomed to when typing. However, it was comfortable to use and fairly spacious. Business users will be pleased with the presence of a fingerprint reader, which can help keep unauthorised users from logging in to the computer.
Weighing 2.26kg, the Tecra A6 is small enough to use on the road, but large enough to be used as a desktop , of sorts.
Our standard battery run down test, MobileMark 2005, is still not compatible with Vista, so in its absence, we ran a DVD rundown test by looping a movie. This is a worst-case scenario as it works the screen, CPU, DVD drive and speakers, and the Tecra A6 lasted 82 minutes during this test. This isn't quite enough to last through a full-length feature film, but when used with a decent power management scheme and when running basic office tasks, it should stay up and running for a little longer.
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