"Vastly Underrated by CNET"4.0 starson by ToshibaR15Owner
Pros: Size (not too big), Battery Life, Array of Features/Hardware at a solid price
Cons: Needs More RAM (easy to upgrade), Slow Hard Drive, Lots of Bloatware Pre-installed
Summary: This notebook is much better than the CNET rating would lead you to believe.
The whole point of this notebook is to find a happy medium between being small/light and being packed with hardware and features. They punish its rating because it's not as light as the lightest, feature-weak laptops, then punish its rating again because it doesn't perform as well as the top-end non-tablets. Let's go over the main complaints of the reviewer:
(1) It's too heavy.
Six pounds is really not all that heavy. Yes, it's heavier than the slate-style tablets that lack keyboards. It's also heavier than other convertible tablets like IBM's X41 and Compaq's tc4200 -- but each of these has a small screens (12.1" as opposed to the 14.1" of the R15) and also lacks an integrated DVD or CD drive. For a tablet with a keyboard, 14.1" screen, and DVD/CR-RW all on-board, 6 pounds is not too heavy at all.
(2) It underperforms.
This is probably due to the lack of RAM -- more on that later.
(3) The screen wobbles.
So do all laptops. I tested this a bit when I bought it at the retailer, and this screen doesn't seem to wobble any more than the others. There are also some stabilizers under the screen that prevent it from rotating in laptop mode once you've got it locked into place.
(4) Our test version had a piece of dust under the screen.
Pffft. Is there any better indicator that the reviewer has an anti-Toshiba vendetta for some reason?
(5) It lacks: Gigabit ethernet, a multicard reader, DVD burner, fingerprint reader.
This is not a top-of-the-line tablet PC. If you're looking to spend $3000, you're looking in the wrong price point. For the money, the hardware is plenty adequate.
(6) Warranty is only one year.
That's pretty standard guys.
So what's actually good about this computer?
Well, lots of things. Handwriting recognition is quite good. I have pretty bad hand writing, and it generally knows what I want to say. Corrections are fairly easy to make as well.
It doesn't run too hot, which was a concern of mine. It gets warm, but warmth is unavoidable. It's not so hot as to be unusable on my lap in my hotbox of an apartment during the summer.
It comes loaded with a lot of software. Pre-installation of a fully licensed version of Microsoft OneNote can't be underestimated. This is quite useful software for anyone interested in taking notes on their tablet.
And what are the real problems with it?
It does need more RAM. Again, my guess is that this is the reason it "underperformed" on CNET's tests. My desktop is a 1.7 GHz with 512 MB of 266 MHz RAM, and it runs just fine for me, so I expected the R15 to do the same with its slightly faster RAM. But, Windows XP Tablet Edition is a lot more bloated, and Toshiba doesn't help by preloading even more useless software, so at the end of the day, you will need at least another 512 MB of RAM. If you install it yourself (which is quite easy -- the manual even gives you instructions on how to do it) you can buy 512 for about $50 online, or $100 at Best Buy or CompUSA. Without the upgrade, it struggles when trying to run more than one application, and even Microsoft's "Experience Pack" applications have trouble running all by themselves. With the upgrade, it zips along without much slowdown at all, and with several apps running. Bottom line: Order the RAM also, and add that to the price of purchase when making your comparisons.
The hard drive is also slow, at only 4200 RPM's, compared to most laptops that run at 5400 or even 7200. This makes the lack of RAM an even bigger problem, since the OS has to use the slow hard drive as "extra" RAM if you don't have enough.
The multitudes of unnecessary apps installed by Toshiba is a pain, but you can disable these if you know what you're doing.
So, here's the upshot. If you're considering a Tablet PC, first decide if you really want a tablet or not. If so, decide if you want a slate or convertible. Slates are lighter without a keyboard and slower processors (designed to replace clipboards for med students) and convertibles are heavier but have keyboards (designed to replace paper notebooks for students). If you decide on a convertible, figure out what size screen you want. Unlike processor speed or RAM, where more is always better, a bigger screen isn't necessarily better, since bigger means heavier and less portable.
I decided on a convertible tablet with at least a 14.1" screen, under $2000. This basically led me to either this computer, or the Gateway M275 series. The Gateway is slightly lighter, thinner, and slightly faster. But I read too many horror stories about Gateway customer service, and there were also a lot of complaints that the Gateway runs hot. Between those two factors, I decided on the Toshiba.
Obviously I'm pretty happy with it.