Toshiba Satellite R15-S822
At a Glance
The Toshiba Satellite R15-S822 converts from laptop to tablet PC with a smooth swivel of its 14.1-inch screen. A reversible lid latch locks it against the keyboard in a jiffy. The $1599 R15-S822 worked well for me in either incarnation, although personally, 6.1 pounds (not including power adapter) of tablet is more than I would want to lug around in the crook of my arm all day if I had to do most of my writing on my feet. But for occasional tablet use or in scenarios where you would use it on your lap or another surface, this convertible is a fine choice, especially in the field.
The R15-S822's lithium-ion battery lasted 5.3 hours in our tests, long enough to plow through more than half a workday untethered to an electrical outlet. The R15-S822's speed when working in applications was in the ballpark for its 1.6-GHz Pentium M 725 processor, when supported with 512MB of RAM. It earned a WorldBench 5 score of 69, statistically equivalent to the slightly higher scores of an Acer Aspire 2000 and HP Compaq Nc6000 we tested with the same CPU. They scored 75 and 74, respectively. A good tablet, the R15-S822 boasts a bright, roomy screen that responded instantly to my taps, jots, and drawings using the comfortable black plastic stylus pen. Located on the right side of the laptop--or the top of the tablet in portrait orientation--the pen silo is easy to access no matter how you hold the unit.
The R15-S822 comes loaded with all the usual tablet applications, including Microsoft's OneNote 2003 writing application, an on-screen keyboard; and an input panel. Tablet buttons are few, but they cover the basics and more. In addition to the usual task manager button and a combination display rotation and <Esc> button, a versatile cross-functional button scrolls and allows drill-down access to numerous useful settings, from screen brightness to CPU speed. A nice extra is a right-side shortcut button for OneNote that includes its own lock button, which I soon found to be a necessity after accidentally launching the app almost every time I picked up the unit.
The R15-S822's firm keyboard features a fine layout and an attractive black-framed touchpad with large, easy-to-press mouse buttons. In addition to all the usual laptop connections--three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, and one PC Card slot--the unit also includes an SD Card slot and a right-side, removable combination drive that can be swapped out for a second hard drive. Exchanging devices is not easy, though; the release on the bottom of my unit was so rigid that I had to force it to slide with the flat end of a screwdriver.
The front of the laptop features a Wi-Fi switch, mike and headphone jacks, and a volume wheel. The R15-S822's stereo speakers sound good for a convertible unit--fairly loud and clean, if not very heavy on bass. A Pirates of the Caribbean DVD looked good on the screen, but that's as far as the R15-S822's multimedia talents go. There are no special launch or control buttons for CDs or DVDs.
All the user-accessible parts are easy to reach, including the RAM slots and hard drive. The only design beef I have with the R15-S822 is the way the bottom of the screen slightly grazes the keyboard if you don't place it in a fully upright position before you swivel it. Toshiba does a good job of documenting the R15-S822 with good, basic printed instructions and a full Acrobat manual on the hard drive.
The Toshiba Satellite R15-S822 is a fine machine, but you won't want to carry this 6.1-pound convertible laptop/tablet around for too many hours in a day.