Toshiba R15 Tablet PC Review

Sunday, September 25, 2005

"It's a notebook when you need it to be, and a tablet when you want the comfort of paper and pen." These words come straight from the manufacturer. Toshiba is marketing their first consumer-oriented Tablet PC as the best of both arenas, a "full-featured notebook that doubles as a tablet". Toshiba states that the R15 "enables a more intuitive, more personal way of computing". We have worked with the R15 daily for a month. Does this machine chalk up to Toshiba's claims? Is it worth it to go for Tablet functionality over the standard Satellite notebook? Is the R15 worth the $1,599 price tag? In this review we offer our no-holds-barred opinion, so please read on!

Basic Specs:

  • OS - Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005
  • Intel Pentium M 725 (1.60GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 400MHz FSB)
  • 14.0" SXGA (1024 x 768) display
  • 60GB, 4200RPM Hard Drive
  • 512MB DDR333 SDRAM
  • CD-RW/DVD-ROM (CD 24x Read, 24x Write)
  • 6-cell battery (4700mAh)
  • Ports: RGB (monitor) port, TV-out (S-Video), 3 USB (2.0),
    External Mic jack, Headphone jack, RJ-45 LAN port,
    RJ-11 modem port, 240pin docking connector
  • Intel Extreme Graphics 2, 16MB-64MB (DVMA) Shared
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG (802.11b/g)

Extra Features worth noting:

  • Modular (removable) Optical Drive
  • Shock Mounted (and protected) Hard Drive
  • Port Replicator Slot
  • Toshiba "ConfigFree" Software


R15 Design

Let me start by saying that the Toshiba R15 is jam packed with so many features that we had to label our photos to really illustrate all that this machine offers! It is clear that much thought went into the usability and design of this model. Sometimes it's just the little extras that make the end-user experience so much better than the competition. It is refreshing to see Toshiba incorporating the same excellent features into the R15 that made the Satellite name legendary in mobile computing products. Nowadays this isn't the norm for low cost "value" models that don the shelves of Best Buy and COMPUSA.

One of the first things I look for in a convertible design is durability. The R15 feels solid and roadworthy. The hard drive is "shock mounted" to prevent data loss if the unit is bumped or dropped (hopefully not) while it is powered on. The swiveling display hinge moves smoothly and feels sturdy enough to withstand repeat use. The display locks firmly in place when the R15 is in "tablet mode" and when the lid is closed with the screen facing inward (standard). There is no play in either position which makes the device feel stable to load in a case or "carry down the hall" to your next meeting.

Conclusion

"Packed with peanuts chewy caramel and fluffy nougat. Snickers really satisfies!" You have probably heard the slogan. In this way, the Toshiba R15 reminds me of a Snickers Bar. It is so packed with features and extras, that it does truly satisfy. The Toshiba R15 is a great upper quality notebook that truly doubles as a full-fledge Tablet PC. The construction is roadworthy and the design and features are well-planned. In most every aspect the R15 is a pleasure to use, and runs as reliable and stable as any desktop PC. I would highly recommend this model to business users, students and most any mobile professional or home users who don't require the extra demands that require dedicated video memory or a 7200RPM high-performance hard drive. The 1.6GHz Pentium M processor provides plenty of power for any general computing task and then some. Priced at $1,599 and below, this machine offers many features and extra conveniences that are otherwise only found on $2,000+ notebooks. The Tablet functionality is as good as it gets and many users will enjoy the large bright screen with extra physical space to write (over many of the 12.1" tablets out there). If this is your first move into the Tablet PC world, the R15 is a perfect choice since when you use it as a notebook, it feels exactly like a notebook. When you flip the display down into "tablet mode", it feels exactly like a tablet. This machine offers the best of both worlds.

Pros

  • Great all around design and features
  • Durable and solid feeling machine
  • Tablet functionality/experience is great
  • Bright, crisp and colorful display
  • Good value for the price

Cons

  • No Bluetooth radio
  • Sound from built-in speakers is average
  • A bit heavier and bulkier than its M200 cousin