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 Post subject: Toshiba Tecra M11
PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:14 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:10 pm
Posts: 1832
Location: Northern New Jersey
This is a little gem in the laptop world I would think, for many many reasons. I'll probably add/edit this several times as I use the laptop more and more over time.

Lets start out with before you even open it up. The laptop is plastic, just like many others, and in all honesty, probably isn't the most durable thing, but it's not terrible. Having carried it around in my backpack for a couple days now between several textbooks and my other laptop, it's been holding up fine, with no indication that it's under too much pressure or about to break anywhere.

It has 3x USB, 1x eSATA which is combined with a USB port, power in, a DVD+/-RW drive, a basic keyboard, VGA output, ethernet, modem, Express 34, headphone out, line in, and actually a couple ports I have yet to figure out what they go to. I only have the laptop itself and the power adapter, no manual, and I haven't really felt compelled enough to look it up, because it's not any more complicated than any other laptop I've used. On the lid it clearly says Toshiba in chrome lettering, and does look pretty nice if I have to be honest.

The screen is a 13.3" LED backlit, which has a resolution of 1366x768, which is a bit small, considering the internals sport a Core i7 and 8gb DDR3, but you can't have everything, right? The screen is bright enough to use indoors and outdoors, and has a matte finish (at least what I have) so there's no glare problem. The ports seem to be somewhat logically placed around the laptop, a USB port on each side, and one on the back, with the ethernet, modem and VGA on the back. It also sports an SD Card slot on the front, which gets the job done with every SD card I've put into it, from 64mb to 16gb. Transfer speeds over USB seemed somewhat sluggish to be perfectly honest, but I believe it may have been the age of the media I had been using.

Overall the laptop serves its purpose well, and it is the business line, so there are some features that a laptop in it's price range should do, that it doesn't, such as HDMI output, which is seemingly universal on laptops now. The small screen resolution is not hard to work on, but for a $3000 laptop, I would expect a slightly better resolution, as my 5 year old MacBook Pro sports a better resolution (not by much, but every little bit counts sometimes).

The laptop has a Solid State option, however I only have the 320gb Hitachi drive, which does run somewhat warm, however is very quiet. For a Core i7, it runs surprisingly cool, and sips energy. In the Toshiba "eco" mode, the laptop was easily idling at 14/15W, with an external drive plugged in. While transferring data or actually using the laptop for some basic work, the usage in the eco mode had made it's way to ~25W, however it did not seem to sacrifice much performance. Battery life is definitely as high as 6-7 hours depending on usage, but with regular power settings, no eco mode, and even screen brightness set halfway, the battery usage is still close to 4 hours.

The fan is very quiet, though not silent. I could easily tell when the laptop had the fan on to cool it off, however the sound was not obtrusive in any way, and easily mixed in with the background noises where I was.

The features are relatively basic, and the laptop is no-frills, but it does a very good job at what it is, which is the important part. Personally, having set everything I need for school on my MacBook Pro, switching over to the Toshiba isn't going to happen, as the MacBook Pro offers me a backlit keyboard, a larger screen, and everything I've used for the past couple years on it, but that doesn't mean the Toshiba is going to sit on the shelf. Being much faster than the Core Duo inside the MacBook Pro, the Toshiba will be the travelling DAW when doing large mobile sets, so that I can keep those things isolated.

Overall, I'm satisfied by the performance of the laptop, and if someone were looking for a business/work laptop in the performance range, I would suggest this one. It doesn't look desirable, so from the aspect of carrying it around with you, it doesn't seem like it would be a target, it's not flashy, and resembles older laptops in a sense. It's more than capable of doing the job, and has plenty of power on tap. The screen could be better, but as with all laptops, there are hardware limitations. The battery gets very good life, and it works out pretty well, so no complaints.

8/10 for this fine laptop, although I have to say, there are few people who would ever really need a laptop with the power that this one has.

_________________
|Dual Intel Xeon E5-2620-Xigmatek SD1283 DK-II|Asus Z9PA-D8-HR-05 IFX|WD 250gb Velociraptor SATA3|16gb DDR3-1600 ECC RDIMM|WD Blue 640GB SATA2 x2|Logitech K750|Logitech Wireless Mouse|nVidia GTX660ti 2GB|Antec HCG-750|NZXT Source 210 Elite|M-Audio ProFire 2626|Art TubeOpto8 with Smooth Plate Tube Swap|Avid Artist Mix x2|
FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:43 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 685
Location: Gefle, Sweden
Their Tecra line tend to be sturdier than others nowadays. Might weigh a little more or not be so slim as others, but if you really need one to carry around it's worth it to have a stable design. Wouldn't mind going with Toshiba on a laptop.


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 Post subject: Tecra M11, the perfect Linux Laptop
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:10 pm
Posts: 1832
Location: Northern New Jersey
I'm going to revisit this thread, to hope to spark more interest, more than just my own as well.

Say, two, three or so years ago, I was really into using Linux, I tossed around distros and tried finding ones I liked more, from things like gOS to DSL. Tried, Sabayon, Ubuntu, Fedora, and a slew of other smaller distros, and in the end, I kept going back to Ubuntu. I guess to a point, it is the cop-out linux distro, in that it was the simplest for me to set up, customize and run on my hardware.

Nothing's changed. I decided I'd give a crack and going back to linux for a while. My aging MacBook Pro is starting to literally fall apart. I'm the second owner, it's going on 5 years old, who knows what it's seen. I know that it saw nearly a 1000 mile journey from the previous owner to myself. Well, I'm not getting rid of it just yet, I think I'll just replace a couple broken parts and pass it along to someone who can use it for the rest of it's life, but lets focus on Linux and the Tecra M11.

Ubuntu recently tossed out their newest release, 10.10. Well, lets just say that the hardware recognition between 10.04 and 10.10 is enough of a reason to switch. I tried installing 10.04 on the M11, and the wifi wasn't recognized, the graphics didn't work so well, audio wasn't working, and even after installing and updating, nothing really worked.

So I downloaded the latest 10.10 x64 build (yes, I was quite adventurous). Got it installed and running, and right away I'm greeted with wifi working, the sound worked, it was running at the native graphics resolution, and it was running very well.

So I got it installed, and put on a few extra apps, and here I am, typing away, with only minor complaints left.

The keyboard still sucks. It's a little hard to type on because I feel like the keys have too much resistance. Some people may love this feel, but I got so used to Mac laptop keyboard, that I very much prefer to feel the keyboard much lighter, and it's also easier on my hands.

Compiz is still hell to configure. I got it running, but since it's been quite some time since I've used it, well, I had to do a lot of looking around for the features I wanted.

All in all, what's important is this:

After installing Ubuntu 10.10, and getting it fully updated, I installed Skype, and Wine.

-The webcam worked OOTB
-All USB ports work OOTB
-After installing the nVidia drivers, the graphics work amazingly well. The worked before, but with little acceleration
-The Sound works OOTB
-Sleep works, OOTB
-Hibernate works, OOTB
-All function keys work, OOTB, exceptions being the eco button, as it's specific to the Toshiba app in Windows
-CPU Throttling/Power Management is working wonderfully, OOTB
-Wifi worked, OOTB, picks up more networks than my MacBook Pro in the same spots, picks up a weaker signal, and is able to keep connected
-Bluetooth is recognized OOTB, although I have it disabled because I don't use it
-SD Card Reader works OOTB, I don't have other types of cards to test in it though
-Brightness is adjustable OOTB
-Gigabit Ethernet works, OOTB

Does it get better? Sure, but I don't have any display port adapters, so I can't test that. I haven't burned a DVD yet, but if it installed off the drive, I'd make a fair guess that that's working as well. I haven't gotten around to testing eSATA, but I'm sure that works too. The VGA port probably works as well, but I haven't gotten around to testing it.
Does it get better again? Hell yes. I opened the "scanner" application, to play around, and see what I had to do to configure my Epson Workforce 600 to work with it. To my surprise, I clicked scan by accident, and it was scanning from the Workforce already, it was scanning something I left in the scanning bed a week ago. I didn't even set up the application, it recognized the network scanner all by itself. My other network printer, an HP 4600dn, was installed flawlessly through the printer options, as was my Canon MP160. I didn't get any of these printers because they worked with Linux, I got them because they came in my direction, they just happen to work very well with Ubuntu. I'm able to do anything I need to at work, at home, and at school, with seamless migration between the three areas. Sure, this laptop was cool with Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on it, but I just pulled the drive out, stuck in a spare drive, and gave linux a shot, and I'm so glad I did.

I have the Compiz-Fusion cube running, I can theme the whole laptop. It's got the LED backlit display, so it's doing great on battery life, roughly 2.5 hours of steady usage before I have to think about finding an outlet, and when the battery goes red, I still have ~40 minutes of usage left before I really have to worry. My MacBook Pro? Well, lets just say, it can last about 1.5 hours of steady usage before it has to plug back in.

I'm very impressed by the performance of this laptop, and I'm very glad to say I'm going to keep Ubuntu on it for quite some time. The power of the Core i7 620m, 8gb of DDR3, and 64 bit linux will be a huge selling point for me in the future, as I'm trying to get back into the loop. No, this laptop is not perfect, but it's doing quite well, and I'm sure it'll outlast all the laptops I've had in the past.

I'm not Pro-Mac, or Pro-Windows or Pro-Linux, but I think all of them have their place. I think it's equally important for people to be familiar with all of them, even if it's just brief usage once in a while, because it keeps the mind fresh, and open to the possibilities. Linux isn't perfect, and neither is Mac or even Windows, they all have problems on all levels.

Lets hope others can use this experience to their benefit, and give things a try. Spread the word, and help people out with it, honestly, there isn't a better thing to do.

_________________
|Dual Intel Xeon E5-2620-Xigmatek SD1283 DK-II|Asus Z9PA-D8-HR-05 IFX|WD 250gb Velociraptor SATA3|16gb DDR3-1600 ECC RDIMM|WD Blue 640GB SATA2 x2|Logitech K750|Logitech Wireless Mouse|nVidia GTX660ti 2GB|Antec HCG-750|NZXT Source 210 Elite|M-Audio ProFire 2626|Art TubeOpto8 with Smooth Plate Tube Swap|Avid Artist Mix x2|
FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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