Four Seasons Test: Toshiba Satellite Pro 410CDT

Very few products were received in our offices with the welcome accorded this Toshiba laptop. Everyone wanted to play with it. It came loaded with really cool MPEG music videos, screen savers, and Windows 95. Our director of research loaded on the Pythonizer software, and turned on the typewriter noise (complete with a “bell” that rings when the Enter key is struck), much to the amusement of everyone who came into the conference room expecting to see a typewriter!

Our Toshiba 410CDT came equipped with a full-sized keyboard, an active-matrix 11.3-inch screen, 8 MB of RAM, 16-bit sound and microphone, and a built-in quad-speed CD-ROM (which can be removed and replaced with a floppy that arrived in an external housing). Windows 95, pre-loaded on the machine, is designed for the mobile environment, easily recognizing attached and detached drive letters. All in all, quite the road warrior machine.

The Toshiba came in handy on its first day in our offices, when a staff member was trying to load CD-based software onto a Lab network that had no CD-ROM drive. Using a very elegantly designed Xircom parallel port network adapter, he logged in and completed his task. Score one for portability.

However, mobility is far from the purpose for which this machine was designed. It is powerful enough to replace a Pentium desktop, if you plug in a keyboard and monitor. We are studying a Lexmark ergonomic keyboard, a marked improvement over the 410CDT’s keyboard. (The Lexmark will be the subject of a separate mini-test drive.) Add 8 MB of RAM, and you have a machine that is the envy of most desktops!

Of course, laptops were not designed to be used solely in the office, but everywhere, so I left New York for Rochester, Minnesota. With only 8 passengers in the main cabin, everyone had several rows to themselves — not a perfect test of airborne computing, which is more normally characterized by cluttered tray tables, seats reclined way too far, and tight squeezes in the dreaded middle seat. During the flight, I fired off several E-mails, which I queued to be sent when I remotely logged on to our network, reviewed some things in my ever-growing To- Do List, which Lotus Notes manages so well, and played with the screen savers and videos.

Continuing on the second leg of my journey, I had an interesting discussion with a manager from a food-ingredients firm about Lotus Notes, but the flight was so short and crowded that I didn’t bother firing up the Toshiba. Oh well.

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