Toshiba Portege 2000

Verdict: Thin and stylish, the Toshiba Portege 2000 could stand a little muscle in the battery -- and processor -- departments. StaffSeptember 1, 2002
Toshiba Portege 2000

Bang for Buck: 6

Street Price: $1,918
Inside: 750 MHz Pentium III-M, 20GB HD, 256 MB RAM, 16 MB Trident CyberALADDiN-T graphics card
Outside: 12.1 inch XGA display, touchpad pointing device, fullsize keyboard
Ports: 2 USB, VGA, PC Card (Type Type II)
Communications: Integrated V.90 56K modem, integrated 10/100 Ethernet, integrated 802.11b wireless networking
Dimensions: 11.4 inches (W) x 9 inches (D) x .75 inches (H), 2.6 lbs.

Skinny: Portege line of Toshiba portables holds soft spot in our heart. The original Portege, you see, was one of the first machines that pushed the envelope of mobile computing, combining power and true portability. It showed us what portable computers could be. Unfortunately, Portege 2000 not a worthy successor to that earlier machine.

Admittedly, Portege 2000 has been getting lots of raves from reviewers. And we’ll grant that magnesium -alloy Portege has plenty of sex appeal. Fact is, it’s about as thin and light a computer as you’re going to find (three-quarters of an inch thick, 2.6 pounds). Indeed, Portege 2000 almost too thin and light. Feels like there’s no there there. Have serious doubts as to whether this machine can stand up to the knocks a portable takes on the road.

Other gripes, too. Didn’t anyone tell Toshiba’s design team that sharp corners do not make for a warm-and-fuzzy mobile computing experience? Sheer idiocy. Sudden braking outside of Stamford almost resulted in first bris ever performed on Metro North. Ouch. This computer could double as a hole-punch, that’s how sharp the front corners are.

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Portege breaks one our unwritten laws of portable computing: No gaps between the display lid and the main area of the machine. Really, who needs to see what their knees are doing?… Display seemed a bit wider and shorter than other 12.1 inch screens in roundup. While bright, we found screen on Portege 2000 did not render text particularly well. A bit splotchy.

No internal DVD/CD-RW drive, so we couldn’t perform MD test or rate video playback. Despite our painful experience on Metro North, it still passed the commuter test. This machine shines when pressed into service in cramped quarters.

Real drawback of Portege 2000 is battery life. Lithium-polymer battery barely lasted ninety minutes for us on one charge. To address that shortcoming, Toshiba includes second battery with Portege (at no extra charge). That battery hooks up to 50-pin connector located on bottom-end of machine. Although secondary battery did dramatically extend the battery life of Portege 2000, it also added to portable’s carrying weight and bulk — defeating purpose of 2.6 pound machine…. At 750 megahertz, not the fastest machine in the roundup.

What did we like about Portege 2000? Beyond its size, Toshiba portable has terrific keyboard, with very thoughtful layout. Also, Toshiba portables known to last forever… We’ll admit uper light machine will draw stares on a plane. But for our money, you can do better. Heck, Toshiba we’ll do better.

(Editor’s Note: Thin is in for notebook computers, but how about the computer makers themselves — how much cash do they keep on hand? See for yourself with the CFO PeerMetrix interactive scorecards.)