Toshiba Tecra M3 packs a lot

The new Toshiba Tecra M3 is a full-featured notebook computer that won't strain your shoulder when you carry it. The latest addition to Toshiba's flagship business notebook computer line, it is thin and light, with sleek styling. It weighs between 5 and a little more than 6 pounds. At 1.37 inches high at its thickest point, you can easily slip the Tecra M3 into your bag or briefcase.

When you do, you're slipping in a full set of features, including a 1.73 GHz Intel Pentium M 740 processor, the new Mobile Intel 915 Express chipset, 512M of memory and a 60G hard drive.

With a choice between 802.11b/g or 802.11a/b/g connectivity, you'll get fast wireless networking. You can also order the computer with Bluetooth. For wired connectivity, the Tecra M3 offers Gigabit Ethernet and a V.92 modem.

Our review unit's bay came with a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, but it can also accept a second hard drive or battery. Its primary battery is rated at up to 3.6 hours of life. The second battery is the same size, providing about seven hours of juice.

The 14.1-inch XGA screen feels roomy and looks clear and bright. An nVidia GeForce Go 6 Series PCI Express bus processor with 64M of dedicated video memory powers the graphics.

This is the second notebook computer we've seen recently that has most of the ports located on the sides, and we like the trend. The only ports on the back of the Tecra M3 are PS/2, modem, Ethernet and A/C power.

On the side are two USB 2.0 ports, a serial port, a parallel port, a microphone, headphone jacks and a FireWire port. You'll also get the latest slots: a Type II PC Card, a Secure Digital Card and an ExpressCard slot. ExpressCards are the smaller, faster follow-ons to PC Cards.

We liked the easily accessible volume wheel and wireless on/off switch, which are located on the front of the computer. And it's one of the few notebooks on the market to feature both a touch pad and trackpoint.

On the downside, the fan was noticeably loud and switched on and off often.

Toshiba offers utilities for a handful of software functions including power management and wireless connectivity.

The configuration we tested sells for $1,483 on the General Services Administration schedule.

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