Tag: Intel Ivy Bridge

Product Review–Toshiba Tecra R950 (Part No: PT535A-00M008)


I am reviewing the Toshiba Tecra R950 which is Toshiba’s latest iteration of their work-home business laptops. This has business features like business-grade security and a shock-proof hard disk but is based on the new Intel 3rd-generation hardware platform. It also benefits from expandability options like an ExpressCard slot and plenty of USB 3.0 sockets.

The unit I am reviewing is a mid-tier high-performance variant but this series has cheaper variants that have less RAM and the cheaper i5 processor while there are higher-performance variants with a 256Gb solid-state disk and dedicated graphics processors.

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop

Price – this configuration RRP AUD$1822.70
Processor Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3520M cheaper option
Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3320M
cheaper option:
4Gb or 6Gb
shared with graphics
Secondary storage 640Gb hard disk
Extra cost:
256Gb solid-state drive
DVD burner, SDXC card reader
Display subsystem Intel HD integrated graphics
Extra cost:
AMD Radeon 7570M
1G dedicated memory (AMD Radeon 7570M)
Screen 15” widescreen (1600×900)
Cheaper option:
15” widescreen (1366×768)
LED-backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem
Audio Improvements
Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready with EDR
Modem Extra cost
Onboard 3G modem
Connectivity USB USB 2.0 (Sleep & Charge) + USB 2.0 with eSATA + 2 x USB 3.0
External Storage eSATA combined with USB 2.0
Video VGA, DisplayPort
Audio 3.5mm audio output
Expansion ExpressCard ExpressCard 34 x 1
Authentication and Security Fingerprint reader
Trusted Platform Module 1.2
Operating System on supplied configuration Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall:5.9 Graphics: 6.6
Advanced Graphics: 6.6


The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

The Toshiba Tecra R950 has that business look about it. It has the dark grey lid and a herringbone ribbed palmrest and is finished in the dark grey colour. Only the hinges are finished in chrome, with the right hinge being used for locking down the computer with a Kensington-compliant cable lock.

It is built well for durability, and does feels heavy. This characteristic is one where you could expect a long lifetime out of this business-class laptop.

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptopWhen I was watching some on-demand video, I had noticed that the Tecra didn’t run hot. This is usually a time that I notice that a laptop can run hot with the cooling fan running at full speed and / or the computer feeling too warm. This is even though the vent is on the left side of the computer and I felt minimal hot air leaving that vent.

User Interface

The Toshiba Tecra R950 has the same roomy keyboard with the hard plastic feel which does lend itself to comfortable accurate typing. There is also the separate numeric keypad which is a boon for entering lots of numbers in to that Excel spreadsheet or accounting program.

The trackpad still works as expected and can be sensitive if you are typing but you can still override it using a hardware button located below the spacebar. At least the thumbstick works properly as an alternative pointing device so you can have the trackpad off if you find its sensitive behaviour annoying.

Audio and Video
Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop left hand side - VGA, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, ExpressCard 34, SD card slot

Left-hand-side connections – VGA, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, ExpressCard 34 slot, SD card slot

I have noticed that the audio and video experience that this Toshiba Tecra R950 has given me is smooth for most tasks including audio and video playback. The video playback was still very smooth even through film scenes which may be dificult to reproduce. As for the sound, it cam through very clearly through headphones but the integrated speakers still leave room for improvement.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

The Toshiba Tecra R950 has many different ways to connect external peripherals to it. For example, there are many ways to connect an external hard drive to this laptop without trading performance – an eSATA / USB 2.0 connector as well as two USB 3.0 connectors.

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop - right hand side connectors - 3.5mm audio jack, USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, USB 2.0 eSATA combo port, DVD burner

Right-hand side connections – 3.5mm audio input-output jack USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, USB 2.0 / eSATA combo port and DVD burner

There is the DisplayPort socket used as the digital video connect and you would need to use an adaptor when connecting to HDMI or DVI displays such as most flatscreen TVs. Of course, there is a VGA socket for use with legacy video equipment like the cheaper projectors.

As for secondary storage, the Tecra business laptop has 640Gb as its primary hard disk capacity although some of the more expensive variants come with a 256Gb solid-state storage option. This is supplemented with a DVD burner and a SDXC card reader, thus having access to cost-effective removable storage without the need to carry extra accessories.

The Tecra is equipped with an ExpressCard 34 slot. This gives it room to expand in functionality because you can plug in wireless-broadband modems, sound modules and the like yet have the high performance. SD card slot being located directly under this can be obstructed by ExpressCard modules that use a large overhang

Battery life

The Toshiba Tecra R950 was able to run for a long time on its own battery for most activities as I have observed. For example, I was able to run it with video-on-demand for an hour and find that there is 75% of power left in the battery. As well, I had the Tecra play a feature-length movie DVD for five hours and 21 minutes before the battery ran out after just charging the battery.

This is something I would expect of a full-size 15” business laptop running newly-issued batteries and would preserve its credentials for long flights or similar activity.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop lid viewAn option that I would like to see for the Toshiba Tecra R950 and other larger laptops that come with the high-capacity hard disks is a solid-state disk that works as a cache drive to improve performance and battery runtime. Similarly the Tecra lineup could benefit from a Blu-Ray-capable optical drive as an option.

One accessory that this could benefit from is a DisplayPort – HDMI adaptor so that people can be able to use common LCD and plasma flatscreen TVs like those at home or in hotels as external monitors.

This Tecra series has become a chance for Toshiba to make a bridge computer like the Fujitsu LH772. This is where they could use some of the Tecra features like the fingerprint scanner but have different colourings, making it appeal to the student market.


I would position the Toshiba Tecra R950 as an up-to-date work-home laptop for most small businesses. It has the security where-with-all and the extra RAM and hard-disk capacity that the small-business owner would need. The Bluetooth 4.0 interface allows this computer to work with battery-operated Bluetooth devices that can run a long time on cost-effective batteries or work with Bluetooth sensor devices.

II was choosing amongst the packages available, I would prefer this model for most users and the model below (4Gb RAM, i5 CPU) for those on a budget such as students. The Radeon-equipped variants would work well for users with graphics and multimedia creation needs or, perhaps, intense gaming. All along, I would focus on the 640Gb HDD as requirement for capacity.

New Ivy-Bridge-based all-in-ones from HP


HP unveils four new business and consumer all-in-ones with Ivy Bridge insides – Engadget

My Comments

Previously, I had written an article about desktop computers in form factors other than the traditional tower case becoming more powerful. This also included an article that I wrote about the HP Z1 Workstation which could knock over the Apple iMac computers when it comes to a single-piece CAD workstation based on the Windows platform.

HP have now complemented this workstation with a series of business and consumer all-in-one desktops that still yield highly-capable aesthetically-pleasing computing environments. Infact one of the business computers, the Compaq Elite 8300 has the ability to be equipped with a touchscreen which allows for POS and related customer-service functionality.

The Envy 23 is one of those all-in-ones which could supplant that small bedroom or den TV especially where these rooms are expected to serve as a living area, work area and sleeping area. This is due to it being able to be optioned with a Blu-Ray player and a TV tuner as well as an HDMI input to connect that games console or camera.

What I see of this lineup is whether HP have dumped the classic “tower” desktop in favour of the more attractive form factors like these “all-in-ones” and raised the credibility of this class of cord-tethered computer.

Samsung still staying on with the 17” desktop replacement


Samsung unwraps 17in Ivy Bridge beast • reghardware

My Comments

Apple who may call the direction of personal computing may say that the 17” desktop-replacement laptop is “out of fashion” or “uncool” and cease running this form factor for their MacBook. But it is not so for Samsung’s up-and-coming Ivy-Bridge-powered Windows 17” multimedia desktop replacement known as the Series 7 Chronos 17.

But, as I have outlined in my recent laptop buyer’s guide, this screen-size form factor does still have relevance as a portable computer, especially when it comes to a large-screen “stow-it-away” solution for those who need to regularly set up and pack up their computing environment. Examples of this kind of use include the dining or kitchen table is your home office, a large-screen work-home laptop or project-based computing.

The Samsung, with its dual-graphics functionality with NVIDIA Optimus switching  and 2Gb NVIDIA GT650M dedicated graphics, could still earn its keep as a games or multimedia machine with that large screen. Even on economy integrated-graphics mode, this unit and others with Ivy-Bridge chipsets will have a bit more in the graphics “oomph” that what the previous Sandy-Bridge chipset.

It also has the Blu-Ray player and 1Tb of hard disk storage plus 8Gb on the RAM. The big question to ask is how much this unit, especially this configuration, will cost. More or less, it still shows that the Windows-driven multimedia desktop-replacement laptops still have that credibility on the stage.

CEBit 2012


The CEBit 2012 IT show in Hannover, Germany is one of may technology trade shows covering the European area where there is a strong crossover between product classes. It was positioned at work-based computing but is competing with Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain (smartphones), Internationaler Funkaustellung in Berlin, Gernamy (consumer electronics) and Photokina in Cologne, Germany (digital imaging) as a European showcase platform for consumer and small-business information technology.

It has carried through the overall key trend of work-home computing and the always-mobile business life. This is more so with the emphasis on portable computing equipment and equipment to service the data cloud.

Key issues and trends in computing

Privacy and security in the online age

A key issue that has been raised through this year’s CEBIT show in Hannover is how US-based companies are limiting data privacy in the eyes of Europeans. Regular readers of HomeNetworking01.info may have seen articles being published about this issue, especially an industry interview that I did with Alastair MacGibbon and Brahman Thyagalingham, concerning the responsibility of service providers if something goes awry with the data in their care.

This was brought about through the recent privacy and security changes at Google as well as an increase of data being held “in the cloud”. There was also an underscoring of the improtance of trust concerning data in the Internet Age.

Technological trends

PCs and laptops

These “regular” computers have not been forgotten about even though there is a lot of interest in the tablets and smartphones. It has been led about through the imminent release by Microsoft of Windows 8 which is available as a consumer-preview version at the time of writing. One feature pitched about this operating system is that it was intended to bridge home and work computing lifestyles with mechanisms like Windows To Go “boot-from-USB” setups.

As well, there was the imminent release of the Ivy Bridge chipset and processor families by Intel with these offing graphics that are just close to “gaming quality” but with economical power consumption. There was a “Super SSD” drive also being premiered which had 512Gb of solid-state storage in a 2.5” housing for the current generation of portable computers.

This year has seen more of the Ultrabooks being released by the various manufacturers and in different variants.

An example of this was Acer showing their new range of equipment with the Timeline Ultra M3. This was a so-called “15-inch Ultrabook” which had an optical drive and NVIDIA GeForce discrete graphics, with variants available with a hard disk or solid-state-drive only for their secondary storage.

Acer had also premiered their V3 lineup of 14”, 15” and 17” budget-friendly laptops with the 17” variant having a Blu-Ray optical drive. They also premiered the V5 11”, 14” and 15” slim mainstream laptops with the 14” and 15” varieties being equipped with discrete graphics as an option.

Toshiba also fielded a variant of the Portege Z830-120 Ultrabook with WiDi Wi-Fi-driven display link technology and was promising a “brown-goods” LCD TV with WiDi display functionality. I would say that this function may appear in a higher-end LCD chassis which serves a particular run of high-end lounge-room sets.

Of course, there would be some computers that are positioned as “bridge” units between the regular laptop and the tablet, typically being equipped with a touchscreen and a keyboard at least. Examples of these would include ASUS “Transformer” variants with detachable keyboards or “swivel-head” convertible laptops. These could be based on either an ARM RISC microarchitecture or the classic Intel microarchitecture with them running Windows or Android. They would be pitched at those of us who like the touchscreen tablet experience but also want to use a proper keyboard to create content.

Smartphones and Tablets

The smartphone and tablet scene at this fair has been affected by two issues. One is Apple releasing their third-generation iPad with the higher-resolution “Retina” display and A5x graphics subsystem concurrently with this show, setting the cat among the pigeons. Of course, the patent fights are still on with Apple over tablet-computer design with some of the lawsuits still not resolved.

The other is that a lot of the smartphones and tablets destined for Europe were premiered at the previous Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. But there were a lot of the tablets being exhibited in Hannover.

Key features that were being put up included near-field communications which enabled “tap-and-go” payment and data transfer for these devices, larger screens for this device class, LTE wireless-broadband and DLNA implementation. As well, the Android devices are being released with quad-core processors, keyboard docks, glasses-free 3D, full HD graphics and other more attractive features.

As for LTE 4G wireless broadband, an increasing number of European mobile carriers are rolling out LTE networks through their market areas and are launching phones, tablets and modems that work with this technology.


What it sounds like is that the CEBit show is underpinning a mobile cloud-driven computing environment which is to support “regular” and mobile usage classes.

Intel’s Ivy Bridge next-generation chipset intending to offer


Intel’s Ivy Bridge chip packs understated goodies | Business Tech – CNET News

My Comments

Intel are working on the next-generation “Ivy Bridge” computing chipset which will be considered the technical successor to the successful Sandy Bridge chipset.

High-performance integrated graphics

One major benefit that this chipset will offer is graphics performance. Here, these chipsets will be tuned for better performance than Sandy Bridge’s “Intel HD” graphics. This will lead to more powerful Integrated graphics which can also improve on the power economy. Here, this may improve the laptop’s credentials as a gaming machine. This is also augmented by integrated DirectX 11 support for games and advanced graphics applications.

The obvious question is whether it will put AMD and NVIDIA “on notice” as far as their role in supplying discrete graphics chipsets is concerned? I would see this as allowing both these companies to focus their efforts on developing their graphics chipsets as the “performance chipsets”. This is in a similar vein to the likes of Creative Labs who provide highly-tuned sound subsystems for computers;.

Here, it could allow companies intending to offer high-performance computers for CAD and hardcore gaming to implement improved dual-chipset setups while giving mainstreams users including average game players access to improved performance graphics. AMD and NVIDIA could focus on making highly-tuned graphics subsystems that show their prowess in the LAN party or the design office.

USB 3.0

Another bonus that will come about of this would be an improved USB chipset. This will provide low-latency USB data transfer and streaming; as well as inherent support for USB 3.0 . This is compared to the current USB 3.0 implementation which has another chipset serving one or two USB 3.0 ports while another serves a few USB 2.0 ports.

Windows 8

This chipset is intended to be targeted with the impending arrival of Windows 8 and these functions will provide a direct tie-in with the new operating system. This is more so with the USB 3.0 and improved USB functionality which is supported by a new USB service stack in Windows 8.


I would see this new chipset improve all of the computing sectors and could put performance graphics into the reach of the average computer users who will be exposed to more intense graphics and multimedia. The improved data throughput will benefit laptop users who use external storage or USB audio / video peripherals frequently.

At least it is a step towards power-effective, cost-effective high-performance computing for the mainstream.