Toshiba Tecra X40-D review: A solid 14-inch business laptop with a great keyboard
Toshiba's Tecra range offers good computing power in a relatively lightweight, travel-friendly format. This mix doesn't come cheap, but with a starting price of £999 (ex. VAT) for laptops in the 14-inch Tecra X40 range, Toshiba is competing with top-tier vendors like Dell, Lenovo, HP and Microsoft in the market for what's arguably the ideal compromise screen size for real estate versus portability.Images: Toshiba
The Tecra X40-D is a conventional-looking laptop with little in the way of new-fangled design features to disturb the more cautious mobile professionals. So, for example, the screen doesn't rotate but pushes back to a traditional stopping angle of about 157 degrees. The lid is a slate-grey expanse with a barely discernible linear marking and the Toshiba logo discreetly placed in one corner.
Open up and there's more grey, and just a couple of slivers of silver. One is around the power button that sits top right of the keyboard and another frames the bottom of the touchpad.
As ever with Toshiba, the lid has a fair amount of flex, so a protective sleeve is likely to be required when travelling. Having said that, Toshiba says the Tecra X40 meets MIL STD 810G, with its magnesium chassis incorporating a honeycomb design that adds to its physical strength.Image: Toshiba
Producing a lightweight 14-inch laptop isn't the easiest thing to do, but Toshiba has kept the weight of the Tecra X40-D down to 1.25kg, which is perfectly acceptable.
Size is reasonable too, the Tecra X40-D measuring 332mm wide by 228.9mm by 16.9mm -- but Toshiba could have done better in places. For example, the screen bezels measure about 10mm to the side and around 20mm top and bottom. These could easily have been trimmed without compromising the width available to the keyboard.
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The screen has a completely matte finish and is a joy to work with for the most part, although horizontal viewing angles, top brightness and vibrancy could all improve.
My review model, which is the top-spec of the three currently available on Toshiba's UK website, had a touchscreen with full-HD resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels). This resolution is shared by the mid-range model, while the entry-level option drops to 1,366 by 768 pixels. So, the screen is no match for the likes of the Lenovo Yoga 910, whose (reflective but bright and vibrant) 13.9-inch screen offers 3,840 by 2,160 pixels. Higher resolutions aren't always better, of course, and in particular can impose a drain on battery life.Image: Toshiba
The backlit keyboard is a pleasure to use -- bouncy and responsive, with large, clearly marked keys -- and I had no problems reaching my standard touch typing speed. Toshiba's characteristic AccuPoint stick sits between the G, H and B keys and can be used with a pair of extra buttons under the narrow spacebar. The whole arrangement works well, my one criticism being that there's no status light indicating when the touchpad is disabled.
Toshiba uses a new hybrid air cooling system in the Tecra X40. This has two inlets to pull air in. When the fan activated, twin vents located at the back edge of the base push out a fair amount of hot air. Their positioning is a bit awkward: they are somewhat blocked by the lid, and the area behind the keyboard becomes warm, as does the back of the base -- although to a much lesser extent.
There are plenty of security features to keep business users happy, including an IR-based camera for facial recognition via Windows Hello, a fingerprint reader built into the wrist rest, and a smart card slot.
There are three off-the-shelf configurations on Toshiba's UK website, each with some variance in core specifications. Basically the more you pay the more RAM and larger hard drive you get, and above the entry model there's also a touchscreen. My review unit was the top-of-the-range Tecra X40-D-10H.
- Intel Core i5-7200U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 4GB RAM Windows 10 Pro, 14-inch 1,366 x 768 non-touch screen, 128GB SSD, 802ac+agn wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Tecra X40-D-10Z, £999 (ex. VAT)
- Intel Core i5-7200U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM Windows 10 Pro, 14.0 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, 256GB SSD, 802ac+agn wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Tecra X40-D-10G, £1,179 (ex. VAT)
- Intel Core i7-7200U, Intel HD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM Windows 10 Pro, 14.0 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, 512GB SSD, 802ac+agn wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Tecra X40-D-10H, £1,479 (ex. VAT)
There is a good selection of ports and connectors. For a long time Toshiba even included a legacy VGA connector in its business laptops, but this has now disappeared in the interests of thinness. However the system's twin USB-C ports can support a VGA adapter. There are also full-size HDMI and USB 3.0 ports, plus a 3.5mm headset jack.
Both of the USB-C ports can be used to charge the Tecra X40, and the presence of a MicroSD card slot is another welcome feature. The Harman Kardon speakers deliver pretty good quality sound, although, as usual, more bass would be welcome.
Toshiba claims up to 11.5 hours for the Tecra X40-D's 3-cell li-ion battery, but it's doubtful that will be realised with real-world workloads. For example, one session involving web browsing, document creation, media streaming, spreadsheet work and Skype communication depleted the battery from 100 percent to 50 percent in 3.5 hours, with the screen at 75 percent brightness. By that reckoning a standard 8-hour day's work could be achievable, but not much more.
There's nothing innovative or showy about Toshiba's Tecra X40-D. Instead we have a capable, well-featured laptop that's light enough to tote around. The keyboard is a pleasure to use and the matte screen is easy on the eye. The copious security features will please corporate buyers, and the battery should -- just about -- get mobile professionals through a day's work when called upon to do so.
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