Toshiba Portégé M200 Review

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Hi fellow internet junkies!

I deal with laptops day in and day out with what I do. I buy, refurbish and resell laptops around the New York City area, so I get my paws on a lot of stuff. I take notes on everything I get, so in case I get anything similar I have something to go on as to what they should be like, and also for pricing.

I am a member of the forums (Lionsault_100) I have been dealing with these machines like this for approximately 3 years, so I know almost every model in some way (especially Dell, IBM, and Toshiba).
The laptop I have at the moment (and will be reviewing) is the Toshiba Protégé M200 Tablet Notebook PC. This is a great little machine which I acquired from a guy that had to pay the rent + bills and needed fast cash – I won’t go into what I paid, but it was a good deal.

These are the specs as I got it (and as it is by default):

  • 1.8 GHz Pentium M (Dothan Core with 400 MHz and beefy 2 MB Cache)
  • 12.1 inch SXGA Screen
  • 512 MB of PC 2700 memory
  • 60 G hard drive
  • PCI Intel Pro WIFI A/B/G
  • SD Flash Card Reader built in
  • NVIDIA 5200FX Graphics controller, with 64 MB of dedicated memory
  • No Internal (or external for that matter) DVD or CD drive
  • Windows XP Tablet edition

This is a great machine that I decided to keep for myself because it was light, fast, and the tablet feature was just too cool:

Toshiba

Here are my thoughts on its key elements:

Battery Life: 10/10

Simply great! You can adjust the screen brightness, but when using the internet and playing music, the battery lasts around 2½ hours. I purchased 3 extra batteries, so I hardly ever have to plug in!

Build quality: 9.5/10

The material this is made out of is top notch. Toshiba has a bad name for generally spotty products, especially on the Satellite and Satellite Pro lines. Of particular note, the AC adapter jack tends to break or lose contact with the rest of the motherboard.

But from what I can tell, they really put a lot into the Protégé line – the material does not feel as if it will break in my hand and since it’s a tablet laptop, it has a nice grainy surface over the screen, so it would take the sword of truth to scratch it. But the quality of the ThinkPad T series as a whole is just a bit better.

LCD: 9/10

I being a guy in his prime with perfect close range vision, a 12.1″ SXGA display at 1400 x 1050 is simply stunning, and the screen is VERY bright. However, it is not a good option for someone older that may have trouble reading the smaller text on this screen. As stated in the build quality section, it would be very hard to accidentally scratch the screen.

Navigation: 9.5/10

The keyboard feels almost like a full-sized keyboard, which is amazing on a smaller laptop, and the buttons don’t feel like they are going to pop off as they do on some of the newer Dell Inspirons I have seen. The engineers also did a great job on the touchpad, though it feels just a tad small, but this is just nitpicking.
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Overall Performance: 9/10

The laptop is fast – you can’t debate that since it’s sporting a 1.8 GHz Dothan. I loaded it with 2 x 512 MB PC2700 which also helped matters, so overall performance is, of course, top notch and boot time is fast. The Graphics card is only a Geforce 5200FX, so this definitely is NOT a gaming laptop; however, gaming is possible and it runs UNREAL TOURNAMENT 2004 on medium settings great (one day I will get around to benchmarking this).

User Serviceability: 4/10

This is somewhere this laptop really lacks. Hard drive removal and memory replacement is very easy, but things get complicated very quickly.

The fact that the laptop does not have any internal media drives is a MAJOR downfall. This downfall is understandable to keep the machine light, and I do know that there is a docking station (that will allow for a DVD BURNER, or any media drive) for this which sells for $350 on Toshiba’s website, which is ridiculous and makes a reformat VERY difficult.

What I have to do is pull the hard drive completely, connect it to my desktop via a laptop hard drive USB enclosure, format the drive, copy the contents of my Windows XP CD, put the hard drive back in, boot the tablet from a USB floppy and then run ‘ntsetup’ from the hard drive in DOS.

This can prove to be a real pain in the neck – I have to go through this production every time, as booting from a regular USB DVD drive is not supported.

Overall Rating 9/10

The laptop is amazing and scores a 9/10, as it comes down to the fact that it’s sturdy, light, fast, and converts into a tablet which is VERY nice.

If this had either an internal DVD drive or bootable USB drive options, I would give it the 10/10. And the tablet features are GREAT – sitting back and just writing out whatever page you want to visit just doesn’t get old! Also, being able to stand up and use the machine makes it really great.

These are my thoughts – you decide if it is worth $1500 at Toshiba, or $1100 or so for a refurb on eBay.

The Toshiba M200 Pro’s and Con’s at a glance:

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Small
  • Light
  • Very sharp screen
  • Great battery performance
  • Internal SD Flash drive
  • Tablets RULE!

Cons

  • No internal CD drive
  • Nearly impossible to find a restore disk
  • Rude Toshiba tech support
  • Very expensive expansion parts

Doug

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