Toshiba T1000LE. (laptop computer) (evaluation)
by Richard C. Leinecker
At first glance you might pass over this laptop for other more powerful models. But that could be a big mistake. I ran this 8086-based machine under some of the most demanding conditions for months, and it performed with flying colors.
Let's start with the important stuff. It's lightweight and rugged, and it has a good battery life. You can't love one of these babies after lugging it to three trade shows in two weeks unless it's really light--and this one is. Using a canvas case to carry it, I traversed several airports, a hotel lobby, and several sidewalks without any hint of soreness in my tender shoulder. On our semiofficial scale here at COMPUTE, it weighed in at seven pounds. With the carrying case, the power supply, and an assortment of backup floppies, the total is around eight pounds. Not bad, considering everything I needed to do my work was in the package.
And none of that banging around broke anything. Sure, I'm careful. But when fighting jet lag, I, like most other people, get a bit careless. You won't find any flimsy breakaway doors on this unit. Just good, honest, substantial covers that stand up to almost anything you can dish out.
If you've ever flown from one side of the continental U.S. to the other, you know it's a long trip. Not being one for the in-flight movie, I counted on having something to work on for the entire 5 1/2 hours. No, I didn't get that far. But I did work for almost 4 hours with heavy disk access. For most people that's plenty.
What about performance? As an 8086-based machine, it was good, though not as fast as a 286 or a 386. When you're on the road, though, how often do you reindex your database files or recalculate your spreadsheet? Most of us run a simple database program, contact manager, or word processor, and for those applications, my Toshiba filled the bill. When I did compile a program with my Microsoft C compiler and stepped through the program with the Codeview debugger, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it performed. These two programs separate the men from the boys real fast. They both squeeze every available ounce of performance out of a system. And on this computer the performance was adequate.
I'm not fond of laptop keyboards, but this was one of the best I've experienced. Positive key movement with definite contact points let me know that I was working on something solid. There isn't a separate numeric keypad, but the most important functions, such as PageUp and PageDown, have their own separate keys.
Reading the Display is easy if you've adjusted it properly. The controls are right there on the side--no fumbling around to get the right setting. In a wide variety of situations, this Toshiba's display was crisp and clear. One nice addition that helps adjust for different uses is the ability to change system fonts with a hot key. If you're having trouble reading what's on the screen, you can toggle between the fonts and decide which is best. I found myself changing fonts several times each day as I went from setting to setting.
I had an internal modem that was a lifesaver when I had to send files to the office. It's one convenience I wouldn't want to be without. With the phone cord that arrived in the box, I was able to connect in all of my hotel rooms.
There's an indispensable feature built in that's as close as a hot key away. It's a pop-up display showing you how much power is left in your batteries and letting you set various switches so that the computer is tuned for maximum performance. You can turn the speaker and modem on or off, set the display to reverse, and toggle the auto power off features of the hard drive and display.
A single internal floppy drive was all I needed: Once all of my filed were copies to the 20MB hard drive, I rarely needed it. Disk access for both drives was good--on par with any desktop model with an 8086 processor running at 9.5 MHz.
If you have to be the first on your block with the latest computer technology at any price, you'll probably look elsewhere. But if you're interested in a great value on a workhorse unit, this laptop is for you. It's not fancy or overwhelmingly fast, but dollar for dollar, you'll get your money's worth.