Review Toshiba Portégé A600 Subnotebook
Color up your life.
Toshiba wants to pep up the dismal world of notebooks with color with its new Portégé A600 business devices. The new series combines the reliability and stability of the notebooks till now with a trendy outfit. According to Toshiba this combination is being asked for always more frequently from businesspeople. How this very promising straddle cuts off in the end will be seen in the following test report with numerous evaluations.
The renowned manufacturer Toshiba intends to put an end to the dull business routine with the new Portégé series and to be more precise, with color accents and high-gloss black – for those who still want it classic – but also in a gleaming white, fashionable pink or even in titanium-silver. So there should be a suitable color for everyone.
The new sprout from Toshiba doesn't only impress optically but also comes up with an energy saving Core 2 Duo SU9300 processor with a three MB L2 cache, 800 Mhz Front Side Bus and a 1.2 GHz clock rate. To round things off our business device has two GB DDR-2 RAMs (1024 MB onboard + 1024 MB bar, upgradable to a whole of 5120MB), depending on the model a 160 or 250 GB hard disk, an exceptionally thin optical drive and a high performance battery, giving the user a generous measure of mobile freedom. Besides the standard communication possibilities like LAN and WLAN, the Protégé A600 additionally offers a Bluetooth V2.1+EDR as well as a high speed 3G/UMTS module.
The Protégé 600 comes in four different colors and configurations. According to Toshiba these are: the Portégé A600-13X in Glossy Black, the Portégé A600-13Y in Lotus Pink, the Portégé A600-13Z in Pearl White and last but not least the Portégé A600-122 in Titanium-Silver. The manufacturer Toshiba suggests a recommended retail price of 1410.00 Euros for the models 13X, 13Y and 13Z, while the recommended retail price of the Portégé A600-112 in Titanium-Silver is up rated with 1710.00 Euros by about 300.00 Euros. For that, it has a 250 GB HDD instead of a 160GB hard disk.
The device in our test was the Portégé A600-13Y in Lotus Pink. Since the configuration of the 13Y model is identical to the 13X and 13Z and the only difference to be found is the color, this test can also be applied to these models.
The case of our test device was manufactured entirely of thin plastic. Even if there is nothing to say against plastic cases, the stability of the Portégé A600-13Y does suffer considerably due to that in this case. The business notebook doesn't only give in at the usual weak points, like for instance the display back, but also in the area of the wrist rests at point pressure. Equally pressure sensitive is the bottom side of the Portégé A600, which visibly knuckles down in the area of the DVD drive without much exertion. Even if the test device has a high gloss finish in Lotus Pink, it seems to be very lenient in regards to fingerprint smudge.
The 12.1 notebook has two small, maybe too free-moving hinges, which keep the display in place with an obvious wavering. The Portègé A600 also does without a complicated closing mechanism.
The Portégé A600-13Y offers the most important standard ports, whereas the distribution of the connections is mainly concentrated on the left and right side of the notebook. The front as well as the back is free from connection options.
The socket for the power supply, a VGA-out, which makes a maximum external resolution of 1920x1200 pixels possible, and a combined USB/eSATA port are found on the left side. The louver for heat rejection is found directly beside that, as well as a further USB 2.0 connection followed be the audio sockets for the microphone and the headphone. A Toshiba-typical volume regulation dial is also onboard.
The right side is ornated with an optical drive, an Express Card Slot 54 and a cardreader. Furthermore a mechanical switch for turning the WLAN on and off, a further third USB 2.0 port a LAN socket and a connection possibility for a Kensington lock are found on the right side as well.
The port to connect a docking station should naturally not be omitted in a business device like the Portégé A600, either. This is found on the bottom side of the notebook.
A 1.3 Megapixel webcam also belongs to the standard configuration of the Portégé A600 including an array microphone. Video conferences with pictures and sound with business partners or friends didn't prove to be a big stumbling block for our test candidate.
The Portégé A600 has an Intel(R) 82567LM Gigabit Network Connection module for cabled communication with the world wide web or other computers. An Intel(R) Wireless WiFi Link 5100 Adapter for wireless communication is also onboard. But that's not being enough. The Portégé A600 is also Bluetooth V2.1+EDR capable and the manufacturer Toshiba additionally treats its newest sprout of the business range to a 3G compatible UMTS-module (supported standard according to Toshiba: HSPA/UMTS at 2100 MHz and GSM/GPRS/EDGE quad band at 850/900/1800/1900 MHz).
Toshiba takes care, among others, of the data security with an integrated fingerprint reader between the two mouse keys, which only allows access by authorized persons. Also a feature regarding data security is the wireless registration via a Bluetooth mobile phone. The display is disabled as soon as the mobile phone leaves the tuning range. Hence, personal data is secured from third-party access to an extent when the user has to spontaneously leave his office, for example.
The manufacturer Toshiba also puts a focus on data security in consideration of the built in hardware. The Portégé A600 has a keyboard with 86 keys which should also be splash-proof. According to Toshiba, this should give the user a few minutes to close open files and run down the computer properly after a fatal mishap – at least theoretically.
The built in keyboard presents a very pleasant type feeling, even if the keyboard bends through slightly under pressure. The layout of the single keys and choice of the key size doesn't make longer and cumbersome accommodation periods necessary. Those who come clear with a normal keyboard won't have any problems with the notebook keyboard because the layout has been majorly taken over. The keyboard is optically white, the lettering of the keys are kept in a classical black and fits very well to the rest of the pink design.
Regarding the mouse substitute there is, unfortunately a reason for critique, for instance the partly stubborn behavior of the touchpad. This is kept, like the rest of the notebook case, in Lotus Pink and has been let in a bit deeper into the notebook case. Directly beneath that, where the two mouse keys and the fingerprint reader are also found, is a chrome component of which the mouse keys are constructed. These do their work flawlessly, but are very susceptible to fingerprints and therefore have to be cleaned regularly.
The Portégé A600-13Y has a 12.1 sized WXGA TFT color display with an LED background light, which makes a maximal resolution of 1280x800 pixels possible. The rendered images from the GPU Intel GMA 4500MHD onboard are shown sharp on the built in screen, but turn out a bit pale in regards to the offered color, probably due to the matt display of the Portégé A600.
As far as our display brightness measurements goes, the built in display could convince us across the board. The brightest point was made out on the bottom right corner with 221.5 cd/m2, which we think is a very good value. The "darkest" point in the lower left corner wasn't half bad with 191.2 cd/m2, either. The presented average brightness of the built in display was approx. 205.8 cd/m2, which can be valued as above average.
In regards to the possible viewing angles, the horizontal viewing angle stability can be described as more than sufficient. Opposed to that, the offered vertical viewing angle isn't quite as generous and makes an occasional readjusting of the viewing angle necessary.
Note: The manufacturer Toshiba grants a display breakage insurance till the 31st of March, 2009 free of charge for all Portégé A600 notebooks bought in Austria and Germany, which also insures the LCD display of the business device against accidental damages. The insurance starts at date of purchase and is valid for 12 months.
The Core 2 Duo SU9300 with a clock-rate of 1.2 GHz and a GPU GMA 4500MHD from Intel onboard has enough power to cope with the requirements of a work day, in regards to performance. Surfing in the internet or office applications like Powerpoint, Excel, etc. aren't a big problem for the Portégé A600. Our test sample is replenished with two GB DDR-2 RAM, of which 1024 are already onboard. If you exchange this with a 4096 MB RAM component, the Portégé A600 can be upgraded to a whole of 5120 MB RAM.
In regards of performance, playing a DVD film doesn't cause any problems either. The film is played smoothly and without any loading pauses. The multimedia traits of our test candidate can only be taken with a pinch of salt, though. Especially the very disappointing sound system thwarts the Portégé A600-13Y, but more to that later.
Toshiba takes a hard disk from its own production, a do-it-yourself construction, so to say. The built in SATA II Toshiba MK1652GSX HDD has a storage capacity of a total of 160 GB, which goes to work with 5400 rotations. Apart from the somewhat sluggish access time of 18.5 ms and the minimal transfer rate of a mere 5.2 MB/sec, the other transfer rates are o.k., though. There is a 3D-motion sensor onboard for the security of the built in hard disk and therefore also for the important personal information stored on it. This is supposed to make out shocks, a fall or agitations and remove the hard disk head lightening fast from the disk in order to prevent the loss of valuable data.
Of course, we don't want to withhold our results of the various benchmark run throughs for a better demonstration and comparability, either.
|3DMark 2001SE Standard||4914 points|
|3DMark 03 Standard||1596 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||993 points|
|3DMark 06||561 points|
|PCMark 05 Standard||2608 points|
|Shading 32Bit||577 Points|
|Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit||2491 Points|
|Rendering Single 32Bit||1410 Points|
Concerning the acoustic emission, the Portégé A600 behaves itself very controlled in idle mode. Hence, we could make out a constant 31.2 dB(A), which can be called quiet.
This changes abrubtly under continuous load. The Portégé A600-13Y increases the fan drive in several levels, as it is common in many notebooks, whereas the fan reaches a stable 42.6 dB(A) at its maximum performance. Even if the frequency range can't be called unpleasant, it is very audible.
32.2 / 32.2 / 32.9 dB(A)
||42.6 / 42.6 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
You can say that the heat development of the Portégé A600 stands out neither positively nor negatively from the rank and file. A maximum of 36.6 degrees Celsius could be measured in the upper left corner, followed by 35.2 degrees Celsius on the same side in the middle area, where the louver is also found.
On the bottom side we could measure a maximum of 33.4 degrees Celsius under load in the area of the louver. Hence, there's nothing speaking against using the Portégé A600-13Y on the thighs.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 36.6 °C / 98 F, compared to the average of 35.7 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22 to 57 °C for the class Subnotebook.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 33.4 °C / 92 F, compared to the average of 39.5 °C / 103 F
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 28.4 °C / 83.1 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.4 °C / 83.1 F (0 °C / 0 F).
Let's get to the sound of the Toshiba Portégé A600-13Y. Our test device has a manual volume dial in the front area of the left side. Unfortunately, the built in loudspeakers turn out to be rather disappointing. During the film "Superman Returns" they were partly so quiet that the noise of the fan or even the running optical drive was louder than the soundtrack – at maximum volume.
There was no overload of the speakers at any time even at maximum output; however, the built in speakers simply lack power. The bass, which is barely audible and when then it's very tinny, as well as in regards to the volume. You should absolutely use headphones here. The above mentioned weaknesses could be eliminated very quickly and satisfactorily in connecting USB headphones from Logitech.
The high performance battery from Toshiba's Portégé A600-13Y has a capacity of 62.64 Wh (10.8 volts, 5800 mAh) and helps the business notebook to a very good battery life, in idle mode as well as under load, during wireless surfing in the internet or even when playing a DVD. This is probably largely due to the economical Core 2 Duo SU9300 processor, and the DVD drive which can be deactivated separately.
The test device achieves a good 380 minutes (6h and 20 min.) with a fully loaded battery and maximum energy savings modes in the Battery EaterReader's test, a value which is very impressive. Also satisfactory is the runtime under load in the Battery Eater Classic benchmark. The Portégé A600 accomplished almost three hours, to be more exact - 177 minutes (2h and 57min.).
The lithium-ion high performance battery of the Portégé A600 could also score playing a DVD. The film had to first be stopped after a runtime of three hours and 6 minutes, to connect the notebook to a power socket. The runtime of the notebook also convinced us in WLAN mode. With four hours and 15 minutes, the staying power can be assessed as positive.
|Off / Standby||0 / 0 Watt|
|Idle|| 21.4 / 21.4 / 21.4 Watt|
33.6 / 33.6 Watt|
The Toshiba A600 is basically a downright solid business notebook, with unfortunately coarser flaws in regards to the case stability. The new business device can't keep up with its forerunners in this. Fanciers of the successive models will probably be a bit disappointed in consideration of the stability of our test candidate.
Toshiba recompenses this, though, with two things. For one thing, the color coding, whereas the Portégé A600 is now available in four different styles (Glossy Black, Lotus Pink, Pearl White and Titanium-Silver). And for the other, through its wide-range guaranty. Toshiba offers innately a warranty of 24 months, which consists of a one year bring-in-guaranty and a free guaranty extension, which is activated when registering. Above that every bought Portégé model that is registered over the Toshiba hotline, becomes a manufacturer warranty for a whole three years and a free display breakage insurance for a year, till the 31st of March 2009. Besides that, there is a possibility to arrange an guaranty extension to four years.
Furtermore, the 1.46 kg light Portégé A60 business device distinguishes itself particularly through its mobility, which the energy saving Core 2 Duo SU9300 processor and its high performance battery has to be thanked for. No one is going to copy the Portégé A600 in regards to the communication ports, either. You are most excellently prepared for almost every eventuality with LAN, WLAN, Bluetooth and UMTS.