Nifty Toshiba Tecra 8100 performs well but at a hefty price

Nifty Toshiba Tecra 8100 performs well but at a hefty price

Thin and powerful, notebook comes with a host of features, connectivity options for $3,699

By J. B. Miles

Special to GCN

A thin and light notebook PC, measuring a mere 1.4-inches thick and weighing only 5.4 pounds, the Toshiba Tecra 8100 from Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. as powerful as any of the heftier systems in this guide.

The model I tested came with a 650-MHz Pentium III processor, 256M of RAM, a 12G hard drive, a built-in 56-Kbps V.90 modem and a 6X DVD-ROM drive with built-in MPEG II decoding for fast video replay. It comes equipped with a 14.1-inch TFT active-matrix display with 1,024 by 768 XGA resolution. Microsoft Windows 98, NT or 2000 operating systems are optional; I chose Win98. An optional floppy drive also was included with the review unit.

The Tecra 8100 comes with the usual array of connectivity options, including a high-speed bidirectional parallel port, serial port, two PC card slots, an IrDA infrared port, a video port and the usual microphone and headset connections. The slot for the battery pack and the multipurpose drive bay that holds the DVD-ROM drive can be used for several modular devices.

An S3 Savage/MX 3D graphics accelerator with 8M of external synchronous graphics RAM is the main power plant for the Tecra 8100's excellent graphics capability, though for the best in multimedia capability I suggest you augment its tiny speakers with external units that can handle stereophonic sound.

The Tecra 8100 is visually stunning, with magnesium overlay on its cover to offset the gunmetal gray or black of most notebooks.

It makes sense ergonomically too, with a well-designed arrangement of its full-size keyboard. The keyboard is placed in the upper third of the base, affording plenty of room to rest my wrists.

Flexible design

Toshiba offers multiple feature options that are available on its flexible hardware designs. Because of this, the Tecra 8100 series offers an impressive 5,184 possible configurations of the model I reviewed. The powerful unit can be outfitted with a NetDock port replicator with built-in Ethernet networking for $299, or the NetDock can be added to the company's $399 Expansion Station for creating a complete desktop PC replacement.

The Tecra 8100 has to be considered a top performer by any standard. The review unit's 650-MHz Pentium III CPU handled everything I threw at it.

What's not to like? It's a bit pricey at $3,699, and I'd prefer a 15.1- or 15.4-inch screen, a size not yet available in the Tecra line. I'd also like the company to give me a longer review period for this nifty notebook before I have to give it back. Say, about five years.


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