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From the archive: Toshiba Tecra S1 review running original Intel Centrino platform

Toshiba Tecra S1

To mark the tenth anniversary of Intel Centrino, V3 is publishing a series of articles on the original Intel wireless laptop platform. This article is our original review of the Toshiba Tecra S1 laptop, one of the first products running Centrino. The following article was first published on the official Intel Centrino launch date, 12 March 2003.

Released today, 12 March, Toshiba's Tecra S1 is one of the first notebooks based on Intel's new Centrino technology.

Centrino encompasses the processor, chipset and 802.11b wireless subsystems. We reviewed an early production sample, missing the built-in wireless functionality. Shipping units will include Intel's PRO/WLAN 2100 Mini PCI adapter for 802.11b connectivity and will also support Bluetooth.

The S1 is a big, twin-spindle notebook weighing 2.8kg and costing £1,399 + VAT. Our tests showed that it offers performance and functionality to embarrass many desktop systems.

The main thrust of Centrino is enhanced battery life, however, so we reviewed this aspect in two ways. Our BatteryMark 4.01 benchmark showed that that the S1 will run for five hours and 10 minutes. The BAPCo MobileMark 2002 benchmark, which Intel favours, gave a longer simulated usage time of six and a half hours.

These are good results but it should be noted that the S1's Lithium-ion battery, rated at 6.45Ah, is among the largest we have seen fitted to any laptop.

Our review sample ran Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1 applied. It had a Toshiba 40GB hard drive and a Matsushita media drive offering 3x DVD and 24x/24x CD-RW speeds. System memory on our review sample was 256MB, expandable to 2GB. Network connectivity was provided by a Toshiba software modem and an Intel PRO/VE Ethernet adapter.

The S1 uses the fastest Pentium-M processor available, with a clock speed of 1.6GHz, built using Intel's 0.13-micron fabrication process. Its 1MB Level-2 cache is twice the size of that in Intel's P4 processors. Running our Business Winstone 2002 benchmark the S1 scored 26.4 - roughly the same as a 2.2GHz Pentium 4 Xeon-based system with 2GB of memory.

The BAPCo test we used to assess battery life also indicates performance on battery power, and the S1 achieved a 45 percent increase over the reference system - a Compaq Armada M700 notebook with 1GHz Pentium III processor and 256MB of SDRAM.

Toshiba has used the 855PM version of the Centrino chipset, which does not use Intel's on-board graphics subsystem. The 15in TFT display is instead driven by an ATi Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics subsystem at a native resolution of 1024x768 in 32-bit colour.

The S1's case offers three USB 2.0 ports, VGA and legacy serial, parallel and PS/2 ports. There are also microphone and headphone audio jacks, a volume dial, cable-lock slot, video out and dual PC Card slots. Shipping systems will include built-in Bluetooth and 802.11b subsystems and an infra-red port.

The keyboard action is quite good and either Trackpad or Touchpad can be used to control the cursor.

A floppy drive is not included but a Secure Digital (SD) slot does provide some removable-memory capability.

Toshiba's SlimSelect module bay also allows a selection of devices to be installed, such as a spare battery or another hard drive, DVD-ROM or CD-ROM. To save weight, a blank can be inserted to seal the bay.

Software bundled as standard, besides Windows XP Professional, includes Toshiba's Bluetooth applications, InterVideo's WinDVD 4 and, with the DVD/CD-RW combination drive, Easy Systems' and DigiOn's Drag'n Drop CD+DVD software.

The Tecra S1 is covered by Toshiba's stability programme, which guarantees a stable lifecycle for the unit of at least 12 months.

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Madeline Bennett

Madeline Bennett is editor of V3 and The INQUIRER. Previously, she was editor of IT Week. Prior to becoming a journalist, Madeline was an English teacher at a London secondary school. Madeline is a regular technology commentator on TV and radio, including Sky, BBC and CNN. 

View Madeline's Google+ profile

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