Faced with stiff competition from Fujitsu and Lenovo who are both pitching portability and reliability respectively in the business platform segment, it seems the best (fastest) way to stand out from the crowd is to lead by technological expertise and to create a niche with superior multimedia capabilities on the smallest platform possible – at least smaller than competitors. In its latest efforts in gunning for the laptop market for business professionals, Toshiba is proud to present its latest M500 notebook.
Weighing only 1.86kg and measuring 29.9 x 22.5 x 3.4cm, the Toshiba Portege M500 falls into the mobility range of notebooks comfortably. Immediately the stigma of a light but featureless notebook springs to mind, but upon closer inspection, a mix of exotic features such as Firewire IEEE1394, Bluetooth V2.0 and fingerprint security are quickly revealed. The classy indigo-blue aluminum cover lifts to unveil a well-laid keyboard, touchpad and a rich glossy 12.1-inch WXGA TFT display of1600 x 800 pixel native resolution. Glossy screens are meant to enhance the visual experience with better, vibrant colors and wider viewing angles as opposed to conventional matt screens – and in the case of the M500, the glossy screen doesn’t disappoint.
Just below the screen are two discreet speakers, which despite their size can create quite a racket when called upon – perfect for small-scale multimedia client presentations where that extra ‘oomph’ is always useful. The audio and microphone jacks are conveniently placed along the front to accommodate the VoIP rage that is catching on feverishly. Two USB 2.0 ports are found on the right side while another is found on the left, a good move by Toshiba considering many notebook makers often prefer the simple way out of clustering all into one location in the design of ultra portable models.
VGA output, sound control knob, wireless button, Type II PC Card expansion slot as well as a 5-in-1 card reader that is compatible with SD Card,
Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMedia Card and xD-Picture Card formats can also be found along the sides.
At the heart of the M500 is a 1.66GHz Intel Core Solo processor and this is accompanied by one 80GB 5,400RPM SATA HDD, 512MB of DDR SDRAM and an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950. A simple multimedia exercise of playing DVD content nonstop with volume at 60% confirmed that the M500 would last through a long multimedia presentation on its 6 cell battery – all 2hrs and 45mins of it.
With so many surprises inside, it was hard to pick on this classy multimedia workhorse. However, one thing that struck us was that the mx500 had a distinctively obvious border framing the 12.1-inch screen - this probably meant that the M500 had the potential for a larger screen but Toshiba unfortunately opted for a smaller one to balance affordability with performance.
Another slight disappointment was the mute button not being conveniently accessible for a laptop that banks on its multimedia capabilities. It took some effort from us to locate and push the small volume control button that also doubles as a mute function. Finally, the thickness at 3.4cm is a tad bit plump and could have been slimmer for more pleasing visual appeal.
With its elegant design, the M500 is the latest notebook from Toshiba to bank on the lucrative business notebook market, albeit with a twist that's not so corporately dull. Poised for business professionals who demand security, portability and multimedia capabilities without compromising on looks, the M500 does deliver – its combination of competent computing performance and reasonably unconventional looks gives your small multimedia presentation a head start before you even begin.