Toshiba Tablet PC Portege M400

By Steve Castaneda on October 17, 2006 in Computers - 25 Comments

What an exciting week it’s been! As you may have noticed, I hinted to a purchase in my last post about a new Tablet PC. I bought my first laptop computer this week, and decided that my first should be one built to last a while. After reading review after review at sites such as CNet, and Newegg, I finally pulled the trigger and clicked, “confirm order”. Mind you I sat there looking at it for about 15 minutes, but I did press it!

I decided to purchase Toshiba’s newer Tablet PCs, the Portege M400. There are quite a few reasons that influenced my purchase. First of all, I needed a laptop that would allow me to be mobile. I had a laptop in the office that I had received as a gift, but the battery simply did not hold a charge, and every replacement battery I purchased died after 2 weeks. That kind of brings the whole mobile thing out of the picture if you need to have the laptop plugged in to work, doesn’t it?

I also wanted a Tablet PC because I felt it would be great to have my clients sign real estate contracts digitally. We’ve been doing it for years at grocery stores, malls, and various other locations. Why not in real estate as well? After Bill Clinton signed the Digital Signature law in 2000, it all became legal.

Lastly, I needed a Tablet PC that was going to be Windows Vista ready. I also wanted it to be able to take advantage of all the unique eye candy that Vista will be able to offer, plus the performance enhancements of having a dual core computer. The Toshiba Portege M400 allows for all of these features to take place. I’m really surprised that it came with a dual core cpu; that just makes the purchase all the more easier.

After making the purchase from Newegg with a final cost of $1610 with shipping, which by the way is my only source for buying computer components, I eagerly awaited its arrival. It came 2 days later as promised, without a scratch. I quickly began to boot up the pc, and marveled at its “new laptop smell”.

Unusual Design and Software Preloading

Toshiba Portege M400I began to notice something that quickly bugged me. In my history of building computers, I really enjoyed running a clean system with an efficient system tray (the less icons on the bottom right of your pc was always a good sign for me; computers run more efficiently that way).

The Toshiba Portege M400 comes preloaded with tons of software, albeit some not really necessary, but the system tray looked horrendous. I lucked off, being that I know how to be rid of these pesky processes running in the background. However, for the agent that is looking to just boot up a computer and get going?

Those processes could slow down the performance of the laptop itself, and it may cost money to have their local techie to remove them. It took quite a bit of cleaning but finally, I’ve gotten them down to the bare minimum.

That Pesky DVD Player

Toshiba Portege M400 Tablet ModeThe only other thing that really bugs me about the Toshiba Portege M400 is the DVD. The DVD is located on the right side of the laptop, and it sits flush. The only piece of it that is not flush is that actual button to open the DVD player.

If you’ve ever owned a laptop, you know how these DVD/CD trays feel very fragile (I wouldn’t ever put too much pressure on it). Simply having the button protruding from the rest of the laptop is ridiculous. When I have the laptop in Tablet mode, the DVD player sits at the bottom of the orientation of the laptop. This means that if you sit the Tablet in vertical mode resting against your arm while taking notes this button can be EASILY pressed.

I can imagine someone unlucky (let’s hope not me), that will accidentally open the DVD, only to swing the Tablet some direction and accidentally damage the DVD/CD tray. I feel that the button to open the DVD should be flush with the entire laptop, so that any accidental mishaps can be avoided.

My Conclusion So Far

As you can see, these are my first initial impressions of the Toshiba Tablet PC Portege M400. I will continue to use it daily, and learn its pros and cons so that I can deliver a great review very soon, after using it daily in the life of a real estate agent.

Overall, the Portege M400 is a great laptop with fantastic features. There are just some design flaws, and software preloading that keeps this laptop from being perfect for the real estate agent.

Search for the latest prices for the Toshiba Portege M400 over at Pricegrabber.

-SC-

About the Author

Steve Castaneda, Realtor has been in the real estate industry since Jan. 2005. He specializes in selling homes in Northwest Houston and spends his free time sharing his passion for technology by writing at TechForAgents and programming web applications. Follow him on Google or Twitter.

25 Comments on "Toshiba Tablet PC Portege M400"

  1. Greg Ciesla October 17, 2006 at 8:37 am · Reply

    Steve,

    I have a Toshiba M405 and I’m not quite sure how it compares to the M400. Great Tablet! I’ve had it since July. One thing I wanted to ask was about the video card in the M400. I know that I have an integrated one and know that it is Vista capable but not ideal. What does the M400 have?

  2. Steve Castaneda October 18, 2006 at 5:51 pm · Reply

    The M400 also has integrated graphics and after running the compatability test directly from Microsoft, it checked out to be able to utilize all the graphical improvements that Vista will offer. I’ve never really been a fan of integrated graphics but until they come out with a external graphics solution for laptops we’re kind of stuck.

    The M405 was a little faster (200mhz or so I believe) than the M400 and also came with a larger hard drive. Both the M400 and M405 use the Intel GMA950 with 128MB of shared video memory, and both DX9 compliant so I feel we should have decent experiences with running Vista w/ Aero. Do you remember where you learned about some bad experiences with Vista and onboard video?

    I may run Vista on this laptop to see how it all works out since Vista RC2 is now out.

  3. barber January 11, 2007 at 12:21 pm · Reply

    In Ca market:
    Do most agents use PC’s or Mac??? I’ve read in Denver the MSL’s are blocking out MACs. Is this the trend? As I am a new lic’ee to RE, I want to make sure I start with the right equiptment. ( have Mac’s at home )
    Barber

  4. Steve Castaneda January 11, 2007 at 2:28 pm · Reply

    Hi Barber!

    I’m assuming by MSL’s you mean MLS’s? (Multiple Listing Service). Please correct me if I’m mistaken, I haven’t heard the term MSL before.

    Though I’m not sure the statistics of real estate agents that use PCs vs. Macs, I don’t see how an MLS can block Macs from using the database. To my knowledge, though the MLS can see what type of operating system you use, blocking out that type of traffic seems pointless. Do you have a reference article for that tidbit of news? From what I see around my office, everyone uses PCs for their day to day real estate business.

    I haven’t any personal experience with Macs and should definitely review one, but from what I understand they do help with productivity and design, so I can see how someone in the real estate business can use their mac for graphic design on marketing materials and so forth.

  5. Delena Masley May 2, 2007 at 9:15 am · Reply

    We purchased the M400 loaded with Vista Ultimate for our superintendent – our issue is that when it is rotated to the flat tablet position, the screen does NOT orient at all – we have to go into the control panel and manually rotate the screen – which even after clicking apply and OK does not stay that way the next time you rotate the monitor. We have contacted Toshiba support and they have no other reported issues – they are thinking it is a vista ultimate issue. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?

    thanks for your help,
    Delena

  6. Ahmad Dan-Hamidu May 9, 2007 at 1:36 am · Reply

    Hi “SC”,

    Ohhhh….just when I thought I found a Hi performance Tablet PC…I’m thinking twice…thrice about getting one of these. What about the M200 model, whats it like?

    -Ahmad DH

  7. Steve Castaneda May 10, 2007 at 12:02 pm · Reply

    Hi Delena,
    Did your laptop come with a restore disc? Perhaps the proprietary software is corrupted and a fresh install would help.

    I don’t have much experience with this laptop on Vista; I’m sticking with XP for a while.

    Ahmad,
    My apologies here as well; haven’t had a chance to review the M200 model.

  8. Alex January 11, 2008 at 3:25 pm · Reply

    I use my Toshiba Protege Tablet on an almost daily basis, and while I love working on it, I have noticed that the ‘stand’ of the screen (the thing it swivels on – don’t know what else to call it) is susceptible to becoming loose and making the screen wobble; a friend of mine with the same computer as me actually had her screen connected to her computer by a couple of wires after the ‘stand’ broke completely.

  9. Steve January 15, 2008 at 10:10 pm · Reply

    I was using my tablet and swiveled the screen back to the notebook style and the display did not change back. I finally had to shut down the computer and when it rebooted the screen switched back.
    Any ideas as to what caused it to stay inthe tablet position?

  10. Leo Gregory March 17, 2008 at 8:01 am · Reply

    Hi All,
    I have been trying to help agents convert over to technology. We are all people communicators first and many could benefit more from recent modern technology without hauling the desktop to the client’s or a ton of paper. Because price is always a major decision factor I have decided to focus my company on offering End of lease Laptops and Tablet PCs to Real Estate agents. The question is how do you see yourself using this Tablet tecnology and keeping the home seller or buyer interested in your skills and not technology?

    Leo

  11. Vijay March 29, 2008 at 5:35 am · Reply

    Hi Steve
    I also have a Portege M400 Tablet. I am having repeated problems with freezing, both while on the internet and with other work. Ctrl/Alt?del fixes it but it is very irritating.
    I want to do a systems recovery. Do you know of what to do in this type of problem and also whether this unit came with a systems recovery disc?
    Many thanks
    Vijay

  12. University Technology Transfer April 8, 2008 at 5:04 am · Reply

    I recommend the Toshiba Satellite L40 that is quite a bargain if you take in consideration the features and its price. It has a nice Intel Dual core T2370, 1024mb DDR2 667Mhz,200GB HDD and modem,wireless and many other useful things.

  13. Linda April 21, 2008 at 7:11 pm · Reply

    Hi,
    I have the same issue with freezing continuously. ctrl alt del works most of the time, but not always. This issue seems to be getting worse to the point of powering off. I can’t find my restore disks, what can I do?

  14. Steve Castaneda April 22, 2008 at 8:08 am · Reply

    @ Vijay & Linda:

    I also thought a recovery disk came with my purchase of the M400, but after looking over my packaging it never did.

    After a call to Toshiba, I was upset to learn that some units did in fact ship without the recovery disk, and I had 30 days (I believe) to call and get one for free.

    If this time has expired, then you will have to pay for the disk. Bad practice, in my opinion.

    If you do not currently have a recovery disk, you will have to contact Toshiba directly and have them send you one. Unfortunately, you may have to pay for this.

  15. Vijay May 5, 2008 at 7:20 am · Reply

    Hi Linda and thanks Steve
    I wrote to Toshiba. They sid that the freezing issues I had raised were “not a concern widely raised to Toshiba.” !!!
    I was asked to do a BIOS update and also consider disable any programme that could be causing the freeze and as a last resort run the product recovery.
    I also do not have Recovery Disc.
    I feel that this is a problem with the actual unit or motherboard and not a software issue. I have no idea how to do a BIOS update. I like Linda am absolutely frustrated with this constant freezing.
    Vijay

  16. University Technology Transfer June 30, 2008 at 2:14 pm · Reply

    I just love Thoshiba notebooks since I had my first one. I didn’t had the chance to try the Portege M40 yet but I am sure that it is great because I really trust and respect Thosiba.

  17. TOSHIBA August 13, 2008 at 1:22 am · Reply

    Of course, the S5007V has its own compromises. It has a smaller 12.1 inch 1280 x 800 WXGA LED screen (the ThinkPad X300, Dell XPS M1300 and MacBook Air have 13.3 inch screens) and a relatively slow but low-voltage processor

  18. James Anthony October 18, 2008 at 9:05 am · Reply

    I really like toshiba notebboks and tablet PC but as far as performance concerned some times its getting weird.. i think this model should be cool

  19. al beatty March 27, 2009 at 7:58 pm · Reply

    Toshiba tablets are awful, we have a group who invested in them and they all now have that freezing problem that Toshiba just keeps brushing off. If 30 people are having the exact same issue at the same time it must be a manufacturing problem. Also, others with personal tablets have raised concerns.

  20. said June 8, 2009 at 6:24 am · Reply

    I have a Toshiba Tablet Pretore whom refuse to boot and the vista cd i have wont restore the system. pls help

  21. Boawn July 5, 2009 at 7:03 am · Reply

    The FREEZE is def. a hardware problem! I have a Portege M400 who will freeze soon as “pressue” ist applyed to certain points. Very many users have the same problem!…It is very week from toshiba not to stand up to the fact having made a faulty design!!!Nobodys perfect-not admitting mistakes is a no go and that pi****s me off. Im going to take my portage appart and see if I can reinforce it, so that the freeze effect at least doesent happen to often or in that sec I need it least..

  22. Kunal Karan July 5, 2009 at 11:52 am · Reply

    HELL FREEZES OVER – TOSHIBA OWN UP THE PROBLEM

    I have had Portege 400 for nearly 3 years. This is my 3rd Toshiba laptop. I swear I will NEVER again buy Toshiba. My first 2 Toshiba had its hard drive die – 6 of my fellow university researchers (in a single department) had their hard drive fried within 6 months of mine…. Coincidence !! if it is so, I don’t know laws of probability anymore…

    The current tablet (Portege 400) seems to have breathed its last breath yesterday. I have had the freezing problem for more than a year. In the last 4 months it got worse and I could work only if the laptop was placed on hard cool surface. Any movement and the laptop would freeze. Of course, now, it does not want to boot up and if does (5 in 100 chance) the fan kicks in within few seconds to FREEZE the booting process….

    I AM TOTALLY FRUSTRATED AND HAVE DECIDED TO SWITCH TO MACBOOK

  23. Boawn July 5, 2009 at 6:07 pm · Reply

    hmm, tell me how stupid can a company be? Arrrrr, it sucks having spent money on crap… After this one has its final brain death,I also will never ever again touch a toshiba PC… Still I will try to keep the damage as minimal as possible and will try to catch the “pressure points” that seam to short cicuit on the board and comment on how it works out….Ps the next one also will be a hassel free Mac or none

  24. andy b September 29, 2009 at 2:29 pm · Reply

    In the 3 years of it’s extended warranty, my M400 had 3 new motherboards, each time due to the freezing problem. In fact once it came back from repair with the same fault and went straight back again. It’s clearly a hardware issue. A moderate pressure on the central area of the underside (typically where you hold a tablet PC in tablet mode) would cause it to freeze with the fan speeding up after a few seconds.
    Today it did it again for the first time since the last repair. Now I know it’s only a matter of time before I have to look for a new laptop.

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