By John Morris

All work and no play makes for a dull PC. Thankfully, the Toshiba Portege 4010, a thin-and-light notebook for execs, isn’t boring in the least, and it offers advanced features for after-hours fun. Its relatively modest components—a 933-MHz Pentium III-M processor, 256 MB of RAM, a slow 30-GB hard drive, and a Trident CyberBlade PAi1 graphics accelerator with shared system memory—won’t set any new speed records. But the Portege 4010 more than makes up for mediocre performance with an eye-catching magnesium-alloy case; integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless networking; a Secure Digital slot for transferring files to and from digital cameras, MP3 players, and other peripherals; and a FireWire port for digital video—all in a package that weighs as little as 3.8 pounds. Click here to check the latest prices on a Toshiba Portege 4010 series.

Figure A
With its great design, long battery life, integrated FireWire port, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options, the lightweight Toshiba Portege 4010 series was rated an 8.3 out of 10 by ZDNet editors.

Design
The Portege 4010 bears out Toshiba’s reputation for building thin, lightweight, and striking notebooks. Its sturdy, silver-colored magnesium-alloy case contrasts nicely with its charcoal-colored keyboard, wrist rest, and display bezel. Sharp angles and curves on the front and back edges, along with oversized speakers on either side of the display’s hinge, lend the 4010 more flair than your typical business notebook.

Figure B
Rear-panel right

Figure C
Rear-panel left

The Portege 4010 weighs 4.2 pounds, but if you’re willing to forgo the DVD drive, the system weight dips as low as 3.8 pounds—among the lightest systems in its class. (The power adapter adds 0.7 pounds to the total travel weight.) But although the Portege 4010’s overall footprint is surprisingly compact at 10.5 inches wide by 9.8 inches deep, it’s not the slimmest in the thin-and-light class, measuring 1.4 inches thick.

Figure D
Audio ports, volume control, and PC Card slots line the left side.

Unfortunately, Toshiba places many of the most frequently used ports on the back panel, including the two USB ports, a single FireWire port, and 56K modem and Ethernet jacks. This makes them a little tougher to access when plugging in phone cords, digital cameras, and PDAs, but on the other hand, it also keeps cords neatly out of the way when typing. By contrast, the AC adapter connector and headphone jack are within easy reach on the left side, and the SelectBay, which accommodates a variety of optical drives or a second battery, is located on the right side, along with the Secure Digital (SD) slot.

A convenient panel on the front edge of the system lets you toggle wireless networking on and off, as well as monitor the status of the battery, hard drive, and other system components. Because the edge of the screen is angled, you can see the status lights with the display open or closed.

Figure E
Status lights on the front panel

Figure F
The tracking point and four mouse buttons

When it comes to the keyboard and cursor controls, the Portege 4010’s tight design may have gotten the better of Toshiba’s engineers. For example, the company buries the pointing stick within the adjacent keys, making it a little more difficult to control than the ThinkPad. The four mouse buttons, two of which are programmable, are arranged vertically, which takes some getting used to. The arrangement of the keys is also a little unorthodox; the Tab and Backspace keys are too small, and the Insert key is located precariously next to the spacebar. But these niggling keyboard flaws are relatively minor issues. Unlike Toshiba’s more consumer-oriented Satellite, the Portege line is designed largely for executives who are used to traveling with a notebook.

Features
Toshiba made some bold decisions with the Portege 4010’s features. Perhaps its biggest compromise is a 12-inch display, which is smaller than most thin-and-lights, but the company also dropped some run-of-the-mill features, including the legacy PS/2, serial, and parallel ports, in order to make room for more advanced features without increasing the size and weight.

The Portege 4010 houses a 933-MHz mobile Pentium III processor; 256 MB of memory; a 30-GB, 4,200-rpm hard drive; and a Trident CyberBlade XP Ai1 video controller that borrows 16 MB of the system memory. This basic graphics accelerator drives a 12-inch display with a default resolution of 1,024×768. These specs won’t make it a top performer in its class—other similar systems offer more powerful mobile Pentium 4-M processors, larger displays, and better graphics.

Figure G
The drive and the SD slot on the right-hand side

A swappable 8X DVD drive comes standard with the Portege 4010, but the slim SelectBay can also accommodate a combo CD-RW/DVD drive ($249), an extra battery ($152.10), or a 30-GB hard drive ($399; requires a separate $49 adapter). The two-spindle system—hard drive and DVD drive—doesn’t include a floppy drive, but you can purchase an external unit for $99.

The notebook’s lid sports built-in antennas for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, the two most common wireless-networking standards. Some configurations include both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radio transmitters and receivers; a button on the notebook’s front edge lets you turn the radio transmitters on and off. The Portege 4010 also comes with a standard Ethernet port and a V.90 modem, in addition to an infrared port.

Another unique feature of Toshiba notebooks is the integrated SD-media-encrypted flash-memory card, which makes it easy to transfer files from digital cameras, MP3 players, and other gadgets. You’ll also find a FireWire and two USB ports, as well as two Type II (one Type III) PC Card slots.

Performance
The Portege 4010 performed about as we expected for a system with its specs. Its 933-MHz Pentium III-M processor, 256 MB of memory, 4,200-rpm hard drive, and Trident CyberBlade XP Ai1 video controller with shared memory are all decent midrange components, but they don’t set any speed records. In other words, the 4010’s performance is average but not outstanding.

Mobile application performance
On everyday applications tests, the Portege 4010’s integrated Trident CyberBlade XP Ai1 video card and shared memory architecture failed to make waves. In fact, even the Sony VAIO we tested, which has a slower, 850-MHz processor, outperformed the Portege 4010 by a significant margin. Of course, the 1.7-GHz Compaq Evo blew both the Sony and the Toshiba out of the water.

Battery life
On battery tests, the notebooks we compared fell in line according to processor speed. The Compaq Evo, with its faster, power-hungry processor, fared poorly at less than two hours. The Portege 4010, which uses a 10.8-volt, 3,600-mAh lithium-ion battery, ran for three hours, 51 minutes—an exceptional score, especially when you consider that it’s smaller and lighter than many of its competitors.

Service and support
Toshiba makes owning a Portege 4010 easy. It backs the system with a confidence-building three-year warranty that includes two-day repair service and free 24/7 tech support. The system comes with a long, detailed manual and an online help system, and Toshiba’s Web site provides extensive information, such as downloads, support bulletins, user guides, a repair center, and e-mail access to technicians.

Figure H
The Toshiba Console

The Portege 4010 includes several excellent utilities, most notably the Toshiba Console, an applet that you can quickly launch by pressing a button at the top of the keyboard. This console not only lets you customize your computer but also helps you configure network settings for wired and wireless network connections, including Bluetooth.

This review was originally published by ZDNet on Oct. 17, 2002.

Benchmarks
Find out more about how ZDNet tests portable systems.

Table A

Table B

Table C

Table D

Table E

Table F

Complete specifications


Processor manufacturer and model
 


Intel Pentium III-M


Processor clock speed
 


933 MHz


Display diagonal size
 


12.1 in.


System memory installed
 


256 MB


Rated hard disk capacity
 


30 GB


System weight
 


4.2 lbs.


Dimensions (HWD in inches)
 


1.4×10.5×9.8


Model first available
 


April 17, 2002


Graphics memory and chipset
 


Shared; Trident CyberBlade XP Ai1


Drive bay 1
 


DVD-ROM


Warranty on parts/labor
 


3 year/3 year


LCD panel type
 


TFT


Travel weight
 


5.2 lbs.


Type of pointing device
 


AccuPoint II


System memory type
 


SDRAM


System memory maximum
 


512 MB


Installed L2 cache
 


256 K


Graphics memory type
 


SDRAM


Hard disk rotation speed
 


4200 RPM


DVD-ROM drive speed
 


8X


Modem speed
 


56 Kbps


Battery type
 


Lithium Ion


Microphone jack
 


Yes


Built-in speakers
 


Yes


Bundled software
 


Drivers & Utilities, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Adobe Acrobat Reader, WinDVD, Microsoft Windows Media Player, Toshiba Custom Utilities, SPANWorks 2000


Port replicator price
 


$199


USB ports
 


2


Hard disk interface
 


EIDE


Number of spindles
 


2


RJ-11 port
 


Yes


Headphone jack
 


Yes


RJ-45 port
 


Yes


Port replicator
 


Optional


Maximum display resolution
 


1024×768


10/100 Ethernet adapter
 


Yes


LCD panel native resolution
 


1024×768


CD-RW read speed
 


24X


CD-RW rewrite speed
 


4X


CD-RW write speed
 


4X


Maximum number of PC Cards
 


2


PC Card Type II slots
 


2


Tested operating system
 


Windows 2000 Professional


System memory speed
 


133 MHz


Processor manufacturer
 


Intel

Click here to check the latest prices on a Toshiba Portege 4010 series.