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Toshiba Tecra Z40-A1401 review: Too little for too much

Nate Ralph | Jan. 21, 2014
Business computers usually cost more than consumer machines. But if you're a small-business owner, you need to determine if the features in a laptop designed for the enterprise are worth the added cost. That question is particularly pertinent when comparing Toshiba's Tecra Z40 to considerably cheaper consumer-oriented laptops from the likes of Dell and Lenovo.

If you intend to listen to music while you work, you'll want to rely on the Tecra Z40's combination headphone/microphone jack. The anemic pair of speakers located on its front edge sound sadly tinny and are nearly devoid of bass response. They're also not very loud, which will be a problem when you need to share a video with colleagues in a crowded conference room.

Performance
The Tecra Z40 is a decidedly average performer, producing a WorldBench 8.1 score of 156. That's a little higher than Dell's $650 Inspiron 14, which scored 132, but far behind the $750 Lenovo Flex 14's WorldBench score of 278. The PCMark 7 productivity suite and storage test results were the biggest factors here: The Dell scored just 982 on the productivity suite, versus the Lenovo's 2662 and the Toshiba's 1703. The Dell and the Toshiba also lagged on the storage test, scoring 1479 and 1626 respectively, compared with the Lenovo's 5103.

Why such a disparity when all three machines have roughly the same CPU? The Lenovo Flex 14 is outfitted with a 120GB SSD. The Dell has a mechanical hard drive that spins at 5400 rpm, and the Toshiba has a 7200-rpm mechanical drive. The Inspiron 14 also came with 6GB of memory, versus 8GB for the other two machines; nonetheless, the scores on the balance of the benchmarks that factor into the WorldBench score were all much closer.

Since all three machines feature a Haswell-class CPU, battery life was excellent across the board: at or above 7 hours. The Flex 14, however, lasted a full 26 minutes longer than the Tecra Z40.Toshiba provides a bevy of its own utilities for managing your power consumption, among other things, which some buyers will find useful. For example, the HDD Protection utility automatically moves your hard drive's head to a "safe position" to prevent damage when the laptop detects vibration. But at the risk of beating a dead horse, that utility wouldn't be necessary if Toshiba provided an SSD instead of a mechanical hard drive.

If you need a business laptop with a business-oriented CPU, you'll find better values in the marketplace than the Tecra Z40 at $1229. And if you can get by with a consumer-oriented laptop, you'll find some great machines for hundreds less.

 

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