Review Toshiba has been designing and manufacturing notebooks for 20 years, starting with the T110 in 1985, which weighed in at over 7kg, had a battery life of 60m and possessed a green screen. To celebrate, the company has chosen to revive one of its older ultraportable lines, in the form of the Toshiba Libretto U100. Initially there will be this one model but if it proves popular, the line will be expanded, writes Stephen Patrick.
The U100 is no normal laptop. Instead, it's a showcase for how far miniaturisation has come. The U100 looks and feels more like a shrunken notebook. Its proportions are in keeping with larger machines - it's not a slimmed down ultraportable.
The U100 isn't really intended to be used as your only computer. Rather, it should be used as a portable on the move - its size makes it ideal for carrying in your overnight luggage or even your day bag. With a weight of 1kg and dimensions of 21 x 14.5 x 3.5cm, it won't be a burden.
The 7.2in screen is backlit using LEDs, a technology not usually found in notebooks. The benefit is its power efficiency - it's far less power hungry than alternative technologies. On the downside, image quality isn't as bright and images have a slight haze to them. Image quality is enhanced, though, by the use of a Toshiba TruBrite anti-glare layer.
The Libretto is fitted with an Intel 1.2GHz Pentium M 753 ULV processor. Designed with battery life rather than raw processing power in mind, you'll find you'll be able to use the U100 for writing reports and using as an email client but you won't want to run anything too demanding on it. Battery life more than compensates, though, with four hours possible without worrying too much - impressive given the size of the battery cell on the machine.
Toshiba ships the U100 with a docking station, which doesn't add to the array of ports but merely houses the optical drive - in this instance a dual-format DVD rewriter. For such a small chassis, there is a wide array of connectivity on-board the U100. With two USB 2.0 ports alongside two Firewire - one mini and one full-sized - as well as PC Card and SD card slots, you'll find as much scope to add cables as a standard laptop offers.
Miniaturisation has its drawbacks and can often lead to cramped and awkward handling. While the keyboard is on the small size, it's comfortable to use. The mouse button and pointing-stick are a different matter. With such a small keyboard, the pointing stick has been moved to sit between the mouse buttons, which makes using them both a two-fingered operation and fiddly at best.
The Toshiba Libretto U100 is an amazing notebook that highlights many of the technologies that make Toshiba one of the leading laptop manufacturers in the world. While you won't want to use the U100 as your main machine, for use on the move it's a powerful and flexible portable with an impressive battery life for its size.
|Toshiba Libretto U100|
|Pros||Highlighting many of the skills that make Toshiba a marker leader, the Libretto is a powerful example of miniturisation.|
|Cons||A little too small for a main computer; expensive.|
|Price||£1468 inc. VAT|
|More info||The Toshiba Libretto U100 site|