Test Center Briefs – A Roundup of Hot New Products1:45 PM EST Tue. Jun. 07, 2011
Toshiba Tecra R850 Makes No Compromises
The Tecra R850 is the latest in a line of notebooks from Toshiba that aims to solve the needs of SMBs, and this unit does so with no feature, design or engineering compromises. The 15.6-inch display -- which is a HD TFT LED backlit display -- is bright, has a comfortably wide viewing area and a keyboard that truly does not compromise: It’s a full keyboard with number pad, a rarity in the market of late. On the CRN Test Center lab scale, it weighed in at a beefy 5 pounds, 6 ounces. It’s not an ultra-portable, but it’s fine for mobility within a building or a campus.
The Tecra R850 came to the CRN Test Center lab preloaded with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, an Intel Core i7 2620-M CPU at 2.70GHz and 4 GB of RAM. Though more RAM would have helped, the Tecra R850 does appear designed to squeeze every bit of performance out of the hardware: running Primate Labs Geekbench 2.1, it registered a score of 6,888—more than doubling the performance of PCs that would have been deployed during a refresh cycle that took place three or four years ago.
And even though the Tecra R850 runs a top-of-the-line CPU, Toshiba delivered nice battery life. Using the CRN Test Center’s standard battery test, which is to turn off all power-saving utilities and run a video from the hard drive until the battery reaches zero percent available, the notebook delivered almost 5 hours of life. The performance-to-battery life ratio is top-shelf.
The Tecra R850 also supports the gamut of media: It’s got an optical drive, an SD card slot, three USB 2.0 slots, a USB 3.0 slot, HDMI and VGA.
The integrated Webcam and microphone, built into the LCD bezel, is, to our pleasant surprise, of nice quality.
The price tag: $1,329.
Bottom line: The Toshiba Tecra R850 is stellar, and provides significant value for small or midsize businesses. We strongly recommend it.
LG’s Small Business NAS A Winner
The two biggest enemies to any small or midsize IT shop are cost and complexity.
Network storage products can either be friend or foe in this regard, and making the right choice will often show its results in short order.
That’s why LG’s N4B2 Network-Attached Storage solution strikes us as a winner. The NAS we looked at can support up to 4 TB of storage (in four separate HDD bays). It works with multiple client platforms, multiple storage media, and has a small and manageable footprint of 7-and-a-half inches wide by 11-and-a-half inches deep by 10-and-a-half inches tall. It is built with a sleek, metallic meshlike facing and is wrapped by a smooth, hard white casing.
Here are some of the many reasons why we liked this device: Ease of installation, performance, cross-platform support, Blu-ray backup functionality and ease of management, just to name a few. Street pricing on this product can range between $700 and $775, putting it in a nice, sweet spot for the SMB.
Orb Audio Delivers Sound With Style
Beyond traditional PC-based sound, New York-based Orb Audio brings to market a unique, theater-quality solution that delivers audio that is well more than a cut above traditional speakers.
Although eschewing standard PC connectivity support, Orb Audio -- with solutions starting at as little as $798 -- could be a nice touch to office or digital signage deployments.
Your first hint that the manufacturer has worked hard to set the product apart is that it doesn’t refer to them as “speakers,” but as “orbs.” The 4-inch tall, spherical sound-output devices we looked at integrate with Orb’s Super Eight, 200-Watt Subwoofer, and come together with an included Pyle Pro PTA2 2-by-40 Watt Stereo Power Amplifier.
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