Review Toshiba Tecra R940-1FL Notebook
Serious little thing. A 14-inch screen, Intel Core i5-3320M CPU and comprehensive features: Toshiba enters the stage for business notebooks once again and praises the Tecra R940-1FL as the perfect companion for business trips. Our review shows if business customers should have a closer look.
For the original German review, see here.
Toshiba expands its line of business notebooks with a new model; the 14-inch Tecra R940-1FL is designed to be a successful all-round device for all business scenarios. To fulfill this promise our review unit comes with many features, for example a comprehensive port selection, a matte HD+ display with LED backlight and numerous security features.
The Tecra R940-1FL is competing with similarly equipped notebooks that are also targeted at business customers. Among others this includes the Lenovo ThinkPad L- and T-series, devices from the Dell Latitude E5- and E6-series as well as the HP ProBook 6-series.
With dimensions of 19.9 x 341 x 239 mm the size of the business notebook is identical to its predecessor, the Toshiba Tecra R840. The similarities do not stop there, quite the contrary: The Toshiba Tecra 940 can also convince with its simple and functional design, which emphasizes the business claim and enables focused working.
The subtle integrated design elements of the Tecra 940, like the slightly structured case surface around the touchpad and the silver display hinges, fit well. They not only provide a nice contrast to the otherwise black case but also keep the display firmly in position. However, the maximum opening angle is limited.
The display cover can be easily opened with one hand. Without much pressure you can also twist the display at the top quite easily with one hand but such experiments don't have any consequences. The display frame shows good noticeable resistance against any forces.
With the opened display we can also see the simple black keyboard and an 8.5 x 5 cm large touchpad. Although the manufacturer claims that the chiclet keyboard is dirt-repellent it quickly attracts fingerprints and dust. This is especially evident at the touchpad with its silver buttons and the structured case surface.
Since Toshiba did not locate any ports on the front or at the back of the Tecra 940 the two sides are very crowded. On the left side there are two audio ports, one USB 3.0 port, one eSATA/USB 2.0 port with sleep-and-charge functionality, one DisplayPort and a VGA port (the latter with a subjectively satisfying signal quality at a resolution of 1680x1050 pixels) as well as the power connector. The right side of the case is also completely occupied: A DVD burner, a Smartcard slot, a card reader for SD/MMC cards, one USB 3.0 port and last but not least the Gigabit-LAN port (RJ-45).
If you use all the ports of the 14-inch notebook you have to manage quite a lot of cables. You might even have problems reaching a single port. For instance, if the ExpressCard slot is occupied, it is hard to access the card reader beneath. Wide USB sticks could also block surrounding ports because the gaps between the ports are just too small.
Another port, slightly hidden, is located at the back and can be used for the Toshiba Hi-Speed Port Replicator II. In combination with this additional docking station for around 250 Euros (~$322) the port variety can be expanded with numerous ports (2 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, 1 x RGB, 1 x mic, 1 x Line-Out, 1 x RJ-45, 1 x Serial port, 1 x HDMI and 1 x DisplayPort). This port replicator was also available for the predecessor Tecra R840 and can still be used for the review unit.
Users can choose between several ports to establish a connection between the notebook and the internet or the company network: 10/100/1000-compatible LAN port, Bluetooth 4.0, 3G/UMTS and the WLAN module Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235. The latter supports the standards IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The two antennas of the Tecra R940 provide high signal strength and support transfer rates of up to 300 Mbit/s in combination with a compatible router. The 3G/UMTS modem also establishes a reliable connection.
The Tecra R940 has a 1 megapixel webcam with an integrated microphone and a resolution of 1280x800 pixels. Toshiba preinstalls the VoIP software Skype so users on the road or on business trips can always make video calls with customers or the company.
Security is an important topic for the Toshiba Tecra R940. The features include a fingerprint reader, a Smartcard reader, BIOS with Computrace support, an enhanced encryption technology (TPM Embedded Security Chip) as well as Intel's Anti-Theft protection, which enables a remote access to the notebook. Even the integrated hard drive comes with its own security feature: The 3D sensor of the Toshiba MK3261GSYG puts the read/write heads of the hard drive in a secure position if it detects vibrations. Further information on notebook security can be found in our FAQ article.
The notebook comes with a lot of preinstalled software, including multiple Toshiba tools. Microsoft Word and Excel 2010 are also available but show advertisements and only have a limited functionality. The operating system of the review unit is Windows 7 Professional (64-bit); the box also contains a Windows 8 Pro (64-bit) installation DVD.
Besides the already mentioned Hi-Speed Port Replicator II Toshiba also offers additional hardware accessories for the Tecra R940. For example, the Dynadock USB Port Replicator for 119 Euros (~$153) is a USB docking station with 6 additional USB ports (2 x USB 3.0).
The Toshiba Tecra R940 comes with a 24-month bring-in warranty (Europe, Middle East and Africa). This also includes a free on-site pick-up service (in some locations) after registering the device through the Toshiba notebook hotline.
The standard warranty can also be extended for an additional charge. Three options are available: An international warranty (all countries instead of the three regions) for two years and 34 Euros (~$43), a three year warranty for 64 Euros (~$82) and a four year warranty for 109 Euros, ~$141 (both international).
Similar to its predecessor Tecra R840 the spill water resistant keyboard of the Tecra R940-1FL also has 87 keys, more than a third of them have multiple functions. Unfortunately there is no separate numeric keypad. The resulting space is not wasted, the keys are quite large with 18 x 18 millimeters, so the keyboard is also well suited for longer typing sessions. The small key travel and the soft stroke result in a good typing experience; it is also supported by the firm keyboard mat that does not flex even under heavy pressure. We had no problems with the keyboard during our review and could not determine any annoying noises.
Many business notebooks have an additional pointing device for the mouse control. The Tecra 940 is no exception, in the center of the keyboard is such a control element; Toshiba calls it AccuPoint. The pointing device is very accurate and fast - the mouse speed can be adjusted in the system controls (Mouse, Expansion, AccuPoint).
In front of the keyboard is the 8.5 x 5 cm touchpad, which supports multi-touch inputs as well as gestures. The touchpad surface is very convenient and enables a precise handling; the fingers can slide without any resistance.
The Tecra 940 has two sets of left and right mouse buttons, one set above and one set below the touchpad. The touchpad can be activated and deactivated with a separate button between the touchpad and the space bar. The two buttons at the bottom do not work when the touchpad is deactivated, the other buttons can still be used in combination with the AccuPoint. The functions of all four buttons can be adjusted; besides the standard left click and context menu you can choose from more than 20 special functions, for instance double click, copy, run or Start menu.
The Tecra R940-1FL has a matte 14-inch display with a 16:9 format and a resolution of 1600x900 pixels (WXGA++). Alternatively Toshiba also offers the device with a WXGA panel and a resolution of 1366x768 pixels. The display of our review unit is matte and has no problems with reflections. External displays can be attached via VGA or DisplayPort to enable working with multiple displays. The integrated display supports all the common resolutions (including 1366x768, 1440x900 and 1280x800 pixels); the display content can either be cloned or extended to other displays. The maximum external resolution via DisplayPort is 2048x1536 pixels at 100 Hz.
The 14-inch display has an LED backlight and we determined a maximum brightness of 253 cd/m². The brightness distribution was not very consistent; while the brightest spot was on the left side we only measured 192 cd/m² at the upper right corner. This results in a brightness distribution of just 76%. Especially with dark display contents the difference was visible to the human eye but the impact during daily tasks is not so significant. The brightness is sufficient indoors but the results also show that the so called "High Brightness Display" is highly exaggerated by Toshiba.
The average brightness of the Toshiba Tecra R940 is 223 cd/m² and the black value is 1.49 cd/m². This results in a below average contrast ratio of 165:1; black is not really black and always appears gray. We also saw this problem with the predecessor Toshiba R840-11E, which had an even worse contrast ratio (brightness 242 cd/m², black value 1.87 cd/m², contrast ratio 129:1). The supported color space does not match the sRGB color space at all; the Tecra R940 should not be used for professional graphic and video editing. Ex-works the grayscale presentation, color management and saturation are not very good; a calibration should result in a noticeable improvement.
Despite the bad measurements the Toshiba Tecra R940 is well suited for outdoor use. Due to the matte display the screen content remains visible, only direct sunlight should be avoided. The viewing position is important and should not deviate too much from the center; the viewing angle stability is very limited and even slight deviations (both vertically and horizontally) make it hard to see the display content.
The viewing angle stability of the Tecra R940 leaves room for improvements. A proper picture is only guaranteed if the user is directly in front of the display. Vertical or horizontal shifts quickly lead to color deviations. Even with slight position changes the picture of the Tecra R940 gets significantly brighter and sometimes the content is even inverted.
The Toshiba Tecra R940 uses a motherboard with the QM77-chipset, the Intel Core i5-3320M CPU and the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000. Depending on the model the DDR3 memory equipment and the storage solution are different; the Tecra R940-1FL has 4 GB memory and a 320 GB hard drive.
The mobile dual-core processor Intel Core i5-3320M is based on the Ivy Bridge architecture and delivers sufficient performance for all Windows tasks. Thanks to Hyper Threading the two CPU cores can execute up to 4 threads simultaneously.
We use Cinebench R11.5 (64-bit) to test the Turbo Boost of the Core i5-3320 and to determine any throttling issues. The Tecra R940 shows no problems and the performance results of the business device are good: The Turbo Boost works efficiently during the benchmark; both cores use their maximum clock of 3.1 GHz in the multithread tests. The CPU offers its full performance when it is plugged in and when the battery is used; the performance is similar to the Dell Latitude E6430 and the Lenovo ThinkPad T430s with the same CPU/GPU combination.
The system performance is a result of all the hardware components. A weakness is often the mass storage: If the notebook is equipped with a conventional hard drive instead of an SSD not only the boot time suffers but also the launching of applications and data handling. The Toshiba Tecra R940 has another weakness; it is only equipped with one memory module, which has to work in single channel mode. The result is a low memory and graphics performance because the Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU has no dedicated memory and has to use the system memory. The performance disadvantage of the single channel memory is around 20%. All in all, the system performance is sufficient for desktop applications. However, the Tecra R940 cannot handle more demanding 3D applications.
|PCMark Vantage Result||6778 points|
Hard drive instead of SSD: Toshiba equips the Tecra R940-1FL with a 320 GB hard drive from its own production line, the 7,200 rpm Toshiba MK3261GSYG. At the time of writing almost all of the R940 devices on the Toshiba homepage use this hard drive, only the R940-1ME comes with a 128 GB SSD. This drive would certainly improve the performance of our review unit compared to the average transfer rate of 75.8 MB/s determined by HDTune.
Intel's integrated GPU HD Graphics 4000 delivers sufficient performance for all kinds of office tasks and handles HD videos without problems. Even picture editing is possible and video converting is significantly accelerated by the Quick Sync feature of the Ivy Bridge CPU. Gaming is also possible, at least with low details. Otherwise the graphics performance is mediocre: The Tecra R940 gets 622 points in 3DMark 11, similar to other business notebooks with the same CPU/GPU combination. As mentioned before, another memory module would increase the performance by around 20%.
|3DMark 06 Standard||4710 points|
|3DMark Vantage P Result||1940 points|
|3DMark 11 Performance||622 points|
|3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score||25715 points|
|3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score||3513 points|
|3DMark Fire Strike Score||474 points|
The Intel HD Graphics 4000 enables smooth gaming for older and current games as long as you are satisfied with low details. In this case you can even play more demanding games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II or Tomb Raider pretty smoothly on the Tecra R940, the frame rate (almost always) remains around the 30 fps mark. If you try to raise the quality settings the game is pretty much over, smooth gaming is not possible anymore.
The noise development of the Tecra R940 is average. During idle we measure an almost silent 30.1 dB(A) and a maximum of 34.8 dB(A) during DVD playback; under load the maximum is 36.5 dB(A). The fans slowly increase their speed when the load gets higher and produce an audible and high frequent noise. The fans also decrease their speed very slowly, after a long period of load the noise level was at 33.4 dB(A) for quite some time before the fan finally slowed down.
30.1 / 30.1 / 30.1 dB(A)
||34.8 / 33.4 dB(A)|
||36.5 / 36.5 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: PCE-322A (15 cm distance)
The temperature development during idle is very low with a maximum value of 29 °C. The notebook gets noticeably warm under load; the bottom warms up more than the keyboard (37.8 °C against 24.8 °C). At some spots we can measure up to 47.7 °C. All in all, that only results in a qualified recommendation for the use of the Tecra R940 on the lap. However, throttling is no problem, even after the one hour stress test the CPU used the maximum Turbo Boost.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 38.2 °C / 101 F, compared to the average of 33.9 °C / 93 F, ranging from 21.2 to 62.5 °C for the class Office.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 47.7 °C / 118 F, compared to the average of 36.4 °C / 98 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 26.2 °C / 79 F, compared to the device average of 29.4 °C / 85 F.
(±) The palmrests and touchpad can get very hot to the touch with a maximum of 36.2 °C / 97.2 F.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.1 °C / 82.6 F (-8.1 °C / -14.6 F).
The stereo speakers of the Toshiba Tecra R940 are just average; they are neither especially good nor bad. The high tones are dominant during playback, medium tones and bass can only be guessed at. The playback is significantly better with external speakers or headphones. The preinstalled audio software SRS Premium Sound HD also improves the sound quality, preadjusted audio profiles for headphones, internal and external speakers as well as music and movies are included.
The energy consumption varies between 6.7 and 46.7 Watts when the power is plugged in; the review unit demanded 11.5 Watts from the PSU during idle. These values are no problem for the included power supply unit, which can deliver up to 65 Watts (19 V, 3.42 A) according to the specification. Toshiba equips the Tecra R940 with a 6-cell lithium-ion battery that has a capacity of 66 Wh.
|Off / Standby||0.2 / 0.8 Watt|
|Idle|| 6.7 / 10.3 / 11.5 Watt|
44.2 / 46.7 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC 940
The large battery of the Toshiba Tecra R940 provides long runtimes. With the Battery Eater Reader's Test (energy saving mode, minimum display brightness, deactivated wireless modules) the notebook kept running for 9 hours and 43 minutes. The much more realistic and therefore more interesting WLAN test (display brightness adjusted to around 150 cd/m², energy saving mode, activated wireless modules) reduces the runtime significantly to 5 hours and 50 minutes. Maximum load is simulated with the Battery Eater Classic Test (maximum display brightness, high performance profile, activated wireless modules), in this scenario the battery is empty after 2 hours and 1 minute. To manage a full working day you either have to carry the PSU or use an additional battery.
Toshiba offers a handy and small business notebook with the Tecra R940-1FL. The 2 kg 14-inch device does not set any new design standards but if you have a closer look you can see nice details and the high build quality. However, this is not a case of understatement; the Tecra R940 just does what Toshiba developed it for.
The CPU performance makes the review unit a perfect candidate for office and web applications. We especially liked the comprehensive connectivity features, the quiet noise levels and the decent battery runtimes. If you are looking for a gaming notebook you have to look anywhere else - the gaming capabilities of the Toshiba Tecra R940 are very limited.
The R940 comes with a few drawbacks: Despite the high retail price of 1,499 Euros, ~$1937 (the street price at the time of this review was around 1,270 Euros, ~$1641) the notebook is only equipped with a conventional hard drive. An SSD would noticeably improve the system performance. The matte LED display also causes some criticism: it offers sufficient brightness but leaves room for improvement in regard to the viewing angle stability.