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TL;DR

The specs for the Tecra C40-D seem to be in the ball park of what my gut tells me I need:

  • 500+ GB HDD
  • 8-16 GB RAM
  • 14" display
  • Keyboard tactile feedback; touchpad responsiveness and accuracy
    • Both critical but unknown
  • Processor i5, 7th generation (beware: some variants have i3)
    • At least 4 cores, either logical cores from hyperthreading or (preferrably) physical cores
    • Demand-driven processor clock rate (Turbo boost)

Can those who have this laptop please describe their experience with the machine, with emphasis on the keyboard, and perhaps the touchpad? As well, is the screen as bad as implied in the C40-C1430 and will it have serious implications for my non-artistic usage?

If there are some common flaws in my reasoning for settling on the Tecra C40-D (below), can you please point them out.

Additionally, why would there be no reviews of this product?

Finally, would another candidate laptop be better, considering my needs?

The long story

With Windows 7 support ending, I am faced with upgrading a prehistoric laptop (Toshiba Satellite A660) with sticky keys. It makes much more sense to buy a new laptop with Windows 10. I wanted to find one available on the shelves at a brick-and-mortar store in Ottawa, Canada. That way, I can test drive the physical user interface.

I replace my laptop every 8-9 years. For me, one of the biggest disappointments in a new laptop is poor keyboard and touchpad registration. This is exacerbated by my old school upbringing in the era of HP-UX and Solaris. I find it untenable to mouse and click for everything. Command line and hot keys are the way to go, so poor key registration is a deal breaker, as is inaccurate touchpad sensing. As a point of reference, I found the Dell Inspiron 8000 good, the Toshiba Portege R930 barely acceptable, and the Toshiba Satellite A660 unacceptably bad.

My usage is basic personal -- Microsoft Office, browsing, webmail, personal bookkeeping, some netflix, and perhaps Python via Spyder for modelling and algorithmic exploration. Of coures, Cygwin too, for its old user-level unix environment, including X-Windows. I am not into big data or high performance computation on my personal laptop, though the way that apps are developed these days, you do need some horsepower to (say) support multiple Firefox tabs, especially with its voracious memory appetite.

I eschew large files (e.g., video, images), though they are necessary for some personal business matters. A 500GB hard drive is more than sufficient, and gives me headroom to play around with disk images. For now, I prefer non-SSD, since SSD doesn't present the same advance failure warnings as magnetic HDDs. As far as content safety goes, I don't have the time to figure out a near-real time mirroring of HDD content for redundancy. Nor do I have the space at home to set up network disks. So the advance warning of HDD degradation is a plus.

I don't need an optical disc drive, but the middle-of-the road laptops I seek seem to be for old fogeys like me, and hence, tend to have them, which means I'm hauling around extra weight.

From web researching the variable processor clock rates these days, my gut says that an i5 processor is sufficient. My 4GB RAM is straining, and I hope that 8GB will be enough to future proof me for the coming decade, though I certainly wouldn't turn away from 16GB if the right product came along. My work laptop has 8GB, and my personal usage is less demanding. For the display, I find 13.3" too small, and 15.6" detracts from portability. I've settled on 14", which almost always consists of 1366x768 pixels. That's fine; my eyes are not able to make out ultra-fine resolution.

My strategy was to peruse the offerings of the Ottawa brick-and-mortar stores, and if I find one or more that seem to meet my criteria, I would ask to have it brought in-store so that I can test drive it. The most matching candidate seems to be the Toshiba Tecra C40-D (also referred to as C40-D-00D). Bafflingly, there don't seem to be any reviews about it. There is a review for the C40-C1430 in which the keyboard is less than flattering, but I'm not sure how similar it is to the C40-D. There is also a impressive review for the X40, but that seems like a very different machine. I can't test drive the laptop as I originally planned, as none of the brick-and-mortar stores will bring it into the store without a prior purchase (tried Staples, Best Buy, The Source)

Appendix: Details on the Toshiba Tecra C40-D[-00D]

Staples Toshiba.ca

Dynabook Toshiba Tecra PS481C-00D018
14-inch Notebook
2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-7200U
1 TB HDD
8 GB DDR4
Windows 10 Home
$849.99
Delivery (to T.O.!) by Nov 14-25
Item: 2798503 Model: PS481C-00D018 


Get uncompromising performance in a thin, light and portable package with these fast, powerful and secure business machines. The magnesium alloy body provides durability making the Tecra ideal for busy professionals who spend a lot of time traveling.

14-inch LED display with 1366 x 768 screen resolution
2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-7200U processor (3 MB cache)
8 GB DDR4 RAM system memory
1 TB Hard Disk Drive storage
Windows 10 Home operating system pre-installed
Intel HD 620 graphics
LAN Network, WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity
Ports: 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI, Headphone-out, Mic-in, Docking
4-cell Lithium Ion battery with Up to 8 hours runtime
Dimensions: 13.4" x 9.6" x 0.94", 3.97 lb
3-Year warranty 

Specifications
Processor Cache             3 MB
Weight (lb)                 3.97 lb
Webcam                      Yes
Warranty                    3-Year
Condition                   New
Dimensions (inches)         13.4" x 9.6" x 0.94"
VR Ready                    No
Display Ports               1 x HDMI|Docking|No
Computer Type               Notebook
Memory Type                 DDR4
LAN Details                 Yes
Touch Screen                No
Number of USB Type C Ports  0
Model Series                Tecra
Optical Drive               No
Storage Type                HDD
Colour Family               Black
Hard Drive Speed (RPM)      5400
Memory Size                 8 GB
Numeric Keypad              No
Number of USB 2.0 Ports     0
Number of USB 3.0 Ports     3
Battery Details             4-cell Lithium Ion
Battery Runtime             Up to 8 Hours
Wireless (Wi-Fi)            Yes
Hard Disk Drive Capacity    1000
Speaker Details             Stereo
Backlit Keyboard            No
Media Card Reader           Yes
Operating System            Windows 10 Home
Bluetooth Enabled           Yes
Keyboard Language           Bilingual
Processor Type              Core i5-7200U
Screen Resolution           1366 x 768
Optical Drive Type          No
Screen Size (inches)        14
Screen Type                 LED
Processor Speed (GHz)       2.5 GHz
Energy Star Qualified       Yes
Auxiliary Input (3.5mm)     Yes
Graphics Card Details       Intel HD 620
Processor Series            Intel i5

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