Best retro purpose
Early DOS gaming and Windows 3.1. Due to the slightly slow CPU and graphics chipset support anything that is mildly taxing, such as Windows 95, should be avoided. The built-in screen does not offer great room with just 640x480 resolution and such a small size, although the contrast is very good for a machine of its time (1994).
Can run Wolfenstein 3D well, DOOM is somewhat playable. Best suited for slow-paced games (turn-based) such as Heroes 1&2.
No benchmarks were done as the system is not part of the collection and was personally experienced as a non-functioning machine.
Durability and Repair-ability
The durability of this laptop is below average. While the chassis plastic is somewhat allright, the internal circuitry is quite lacking. The use of poor quality capacitors and electronics design make the laptop fails quite common. The infamous switching led lights with no booting is quite common. Internal battery leaks can be very damaging on the inside.
Disassembly is very difficult as there are many screws and clips. Even removing the internal harddrive is quite an adventure. This is typical of many compact Toshiba laptops. Unfortunately, the poor board design and many shortcomings such as the harddrive make this model quite avoidable. Keep in mind that compatible 486-era harddrives are very difficult to find in good condition and they are quite small. Modern IDE harddrives and flash storage solutions such as compact flash are entirely incompatible although a 1.3 GB harddrive is reported to be usable.
Greatest features & flaws
|Reasonable Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 performance for a 486 laptop||Very small LCD screen|
|Integrated trackpoint||No LCD brightness control, no soundcard support|
|Quite good keyboard and case durability||Very poor, difficult disassembly and service|
|The most compact 486 laptop||No internal drives, no VGA output port|
A fast, quite slim laptop, released in 1994, with a quite good LCD screen but a way too small chassis. Everything feels overly cramped starting with the screen, moving further to the keyboard and trackpoint buttons. An additional design failure is the lack of a VGA output on the laptop, meaning that using an external screen requires the bulky docking station. The display has only two brightness levels, standard and energy saving. Response time is acceptable.
It has a medium performance CPU, with an average video controller for a 486. The CPU does not release too much heat so active cooling is not necessary. The keyboard has reasonable tactile feedback but it is very far from being the best, with quite a long key travel and a mushy feel. The trackpoint thumb stick feels quite uncomfortable, requiring the use of an external pointing device, an external mouse. The laptop's plastic case is somewhat durable but the internal design is horrendously complex, requiring lots of disassembly to access even the harddrive.
Having no floppy drive or any other way of plugging an external CD-ROM or floppy drive meant that the laptop was very poor in terms of flexibility. Although having a floppy drive was somewhat difficult with such a case, the lack of ports on the laptop itself for connecting any external storage, without the docking station, is a very major design flaw. The rechargeable battery can be easily removed or replaced. There were many Toshiba laptops that used the same battery and working with a removed battery does not affect stability or aesthetics. There are two more internal rechargeable NimH batteries inside the laptop that may leak and are somewhat harder to replace (not the typical, compact CR2032 3V button cell). They are used for Bios settings and memory suspension features.
The integrated speaker is way too small for any decent listening, capable of only the standard PC beeper output. No effort was made for integrating a sound card, not entirely unsurprising for a laptop released in 1994, but quite so for a Japanese laptop.
The standard HDDs supplied by Toshiba have a known tendency to have their heads stick to the parking position limiter when old, making the drive fail to start. Careful internal disassembly is required to unstick the heads from the parking position. Use care and touch only the drive arm near the center pin to slowly unstick it. Overall, the hard-drive offers medium performance while having quite a pleasant sound in operation.
Software support is great in DOS and Windows 3.1. The video controller has insufficient acceleration and low screen scrolling performance and the CPU is only slightly slow meaning that running in 800x600 is possible but quite slow.
In the end, the ability to cramp a full computer in such a small chassis is incredible, although there were many compromises. Slightly larger models have, actually, continued and established the Portege series as a successful ultra-portable design that was a staple of Japanese manufacturers such as Sony and Toshiba.