Software and Accessories
It seems that the majority of notebooks today are not shipping with any "extras." The Tecra A11 ships with the typical items you'd expect: a 6-cell lithium ion battery, an AC power cord, and an AC power brick. Unlike other systems, the A11 also comes with recovery media, which is something we don't see very often anymore. Part of the reason for the inclusion of recovery media is that the A11 ships with Windows XP preinstalled. The recovery discs let you upgrade the system to Windows 7, with the option to choose either 32-bit or 64-bit. You'll also find information about Toshiba's three-year limited warranty, a Resource Guide, Quick Start guide, and an accessories catalog in the box.
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Given that the Tecra A11 targets business users and many businesses are traditionally slow at adopting new operating systems, it makes sense that Windows XP is an option on the A11. However, we appreciate that the A11 also ships with media for Windows 7 so you're not buying a new machine with outdated software. In order to give the A11 a fair comparison against many of today's other notebooks, we recovered the system to Windows 7. The whole process took a fair amount of time, but it wasn't any more difficult or time consuming than any other full-recovery or full OS install process. When recovering the system to Windows 7, you'll see an option to choose the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the OS.
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As far as software is concerned, the A11 ships with quite few preinstalled programs. We're not a big fan of bloatware, so we would have preferred that Toshiba left these programs as optional items that could be installed from a CD or USB drive rather than preinstalled on the hard drive. With the exception of the Norton trial software, most of the software doesn't nag you right away when the machine boots. To be fair, it's also worth pointing out that some of the preinstalled programs are ones you may install anyway, such as Acrobat Reader and a media player.