The Toshiba M400 is out

I bought a Toshiba M200 about two months ago.  The special thing about the M200 is that, unlike most notebooks, it is a convertible Tablet PC.

What prompted me to do this?  Two things.  One, my main laptop broke, so I needed a replacement and it got me thinking about where I needed to upgrade.  Two, I needed to sketch and diagram a lot of web pages for some projects and I am not, nor will I ever be, particularly enamored with carrying paper around in addition to my notebook.

I went into the experience expecting a real possibility of the whole idea of the Tablet PC just sucking.  That’s why I ended up buying a used M200 off of eBay…it really cut the investment I needed to make to experiment with the whole concept.

I have yet to give my long opinion on Tablet PC’s, but the short of it is that there are a lot of things that suck about them and several excellent things about them as well.  The good part is that you can just ignore all the things that don’t work well enough and focus on what does work.  The second part of that opinion is price.  Tablet’s cost too much to be mainstream.  But, like I said, I’ll get into that later.

Enough with the intro.  The first of the next generation of Tablet PC’s, the Toshiba Portege M400, is out.  Here ‘s the press release, and here’s the buy page.

The M400 is pretty much the holy grail for a lot of Tablet PC enthusiasts right now.  Dual core with the associated chipset improvements in battery life, a super bright screen, modular bay, integrated fingerprint reader…all very nice!  In my opinion, it’s almost perfect.  The places where the specs currently lack for me are:

  1. Graphics card – Biggest issue so far and may hold a lot of people back from upgrading.  The graphics in the M400 are basic Intel integrated graphics.  Now, actually, the Intel GMA950 (that’s the graphics chipset) has done some improving over the years and we’re pretty much around GeForce 3 class now.  It’s Aero Glass ready and all that jazz.  Not terrible, but still far off the mark when it comes to current technology.  There are some pretty well founded rumors that suggest that there will be a nVidia option available by the end of the month, but nothing completely substantiated.  Personally, I’m going to wait and see. By far this is the biggest issue that would hold folks back, I think.
  2. Modular bay battery – The bay is there..but I don’t see the battery option.  I personally don’t care about the drive…what I care about is extra battery life or possibly an extra hard drive. Most techies fall into this camp…we can generally install software via drive images or over the network.
  3. Size and weight (possibly) – Initial reports suggested the M400 was around 5 pounds, which is an increase over the M200’s weight of about 4.4 pounds.  That was a huge disappointment since one of the big selling points here is mobility.  However, the spec sheet I’m referring to now says the M400’s weight is 4.5 pounds.  Well, if that’s true, then at least we’re holding steady. The bulk of the M400 however, I believe is slightly worse than the M200, which is, again, disappointing when you compare against other laptops in its weight class.  The TX series from Sony or Fujitsu line have done wonders in this area.  When you stack up what one of their notebooks looks like vs the M400, it’s clear just how much more you can squeeze out of the case if you try.

Still, with all that said, the M400 is exciting news.  I’m now pretty sold on the M200 I have, so I expect to upgrade to the M400 soon if the nVidia option becomes available.  It’s just a waiting game right now.

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