Toshiba Tecra R840 review

Toshiba has launched something of an oddity into the laptop market with its new Tecra R840-12F – a thin and light laptop with a larger-than-usual 14in screen. But will that be enough to make it stand out from the competition? Tom Morgan finds out.

Price
£986

We're used to seeing ultra-portable laptops with 13in displays, as it's usually the smallest size that can still accommodate an internal optical drive or second battery; with this in mind, we were surprised when the Tecra R840 landed on our desks. Despite having a very compact chassis, it has a larger than normal 14in display that sets it apart from the smaller competition.

You might gain an extra inch in screen space, but Toshiba hasn't capitalised on that by including a higher resolution display; the Tecra R840-12F uses the same 1,366x768 pixel resolution that we would expect to see in a 13in laptop. Image quality was about average, with a reasonable amount of contrast and mostly accurate, if slightly muted, colours. Vertical viewing angles weren't the best, although there was plenty of screen tilt so this shouldn't be a massive issue. A matt screen finish helped diffuse light reflections, so we had no trouble using the laptop under harsh office lighting.

Some of the ports are tightly spaced, so some chunky cables and peripherals could foul adjacent sockets.

The display is powered by Intel's integrated graphics, rather than a dedicated card. It's suitable for light tasks such as video playback, but not well suited to more intensive applications such as video editing or CAD work. Even so, it's still able to output a Full High Definition signal to an external monitor using the DisplayPort output. There's no HDMI port, but older displays and projectors are still supported by the VGA connector.

Aside from the slightly larger screen, the Tecra R840 is in many ways very similar to smaller 13in business ultra-portables. It still has room for an optical drive, as well as plenty of connectivity ports; one USB3 port for extra fast file transfers, one combined USB2/eSATA port and a regular USB2 connector, an ExpressCard/34 slot and a multi-format card reader are all welcome inclusions. A smart card reader has been squeezed in above the optical drive and there's also a connector for a port replicator, which would be useful for quickly disconnecting peripherals.

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