Toshiba Portégé R600 review
A super-light laptop with great battery life, but the screen is both its stand-out feature and - for some - its Achilles heel.
Review Date: 26 Nov 2008
Reviewed By: Tim Danton
Price when reviewed: £1,115 (£1,282 inc VAT)
Toshiba HQ probably looked on a little bemused when the MacBook Air was announced. A slim silver lightweight laptop, you say? But one that weighs more than 1.4kg, doesn't include an optical drive and has a battery life of five hours? With the Portégé R500, Toshiba could whip Apple on every one of those points, and the R600 - updated with a new processor, higher spec and tweaked chassis - continues where it left off.
In fact, it's understating things to say new processor. A Centrino vPro 2 sticker sits proudly atop this machine, a sign of Intel's latest campaign to bring vPro to laptops. Larger businesses may well have already invested in the technology, but there are good reasons for SMBs to investigate it, too - one key benefit being its ability to establish a secure connection to the laptop even when it's on the wrong side of the firewall.
On a day-to-day basis, though, users will be more interested in speed. Toshiba does its best to help, pairing the 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo US9400 processor with 3GB of RAM, and its score of 0.72 shows it can handle office applications with ease.
Users should be pleased with the battery life. Under our light-use test, the R600 kept going for 6hrs 30mins. That's not quite up there with the obvious alternative, the Sony VGN-Z21, which managed 9hrs 32mins under light use, but it's almost enough for a cross-Atlantic trip.
The R600's big advantage is you can easily use it outside, courtesy of transflective screen technology. Even on a bright, sunny day, the Portégé's 12.1in, 1,280 x 800 screen was easy to see without any backlight on. All but the most basic version of the R600, the R600-10Q, includes a built-in 3G modem as well, and unlike some laptop vendors Toshiba doesn't try to tie you in with one network operator: just slide a SIM into the slot that hides behind the battery, and you can browse the internet at HSDPA speeds wherever you are.
WLAN is as good as it can get: 802.11abg plus draft-n. There's Bluetooth as well, but you're more likely to use one of the three USB ports sprinkled on the left- and right-side of the chassis. In fact, one of those USB ports isn't all it seems: it doubles up as an eSATA connector.
There could be plenty of data to transfer, with a 200GB disk in place with our review unit, the R600-101. If you want a solid-state disk, you'll need to opt for the R600-108 or R600-109, which include a 128GB SSD and cost an extra £500 and £600 exc VAT respectively. The difference between the two is that the 109 includes a DVD writer and weighs 1.1kg, the 108 doesn't and weighs 773g.
Not that the R600-101 is heavy. It weighed 1.16kg despite including a DVD writer of its own, and it's also incredibly slim: 25.5mm at the rear, 19.5mm at the front. In fact, this is the only specification where the MacBook Air does beat it, as the Apple offering is 19mm thick at its porkiest.
The MacBook also feels sturdier than the R600. Although the R600 actually boasts a magnesium alloy chassis, the chassis bends when you prod it, and the screen flexes tremendously. That said, a flexible lid doesn't mean the screen isn't protected: since it's able to bend so well, there's arguably just as good a chance the screen won't break as it would behind a metallic lid, and Toshiba shows its confidence by giving a three-year international warranty. Another nice inclusion for the accident prone is a spill-proof keyboard.
We're fans of that keyboard, too. This may be an ultraportable laptop, but Toshiba uses the chassis' entire width to ensure the keys are large and there's minimal awkward function doubling. The trackpad is also well-sized, and notably houses a fingerprint reader below it.
- Google ditches OpenSSL in Chrome
- Apple and Swatch to buddy up for iWatch release
- StubHub fraud: how hackers stole $1m using tickets
- Mobile success boosts Facebook's profit by 138%
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- Unlock your Moto X with a "tattoo"
- Samsung continues Tizen OS push with Galaxy Gear "upgrade"
- Killing the Surface Mini hit revenues, Microsoft reveals
- How to report website overblocking and miscategorisation to ISPs
- iPad sales stall as owners "too happy to upgrade"
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Meet the robots helping teach children
- PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?
- Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?
- Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out
- Hacking the Internet of Things: from smart cars to toilets
- BlackBerry Passport release date, specs, features, and rumours: when is the new BlackBerry coming out?
- What's changing in the computing curriculum
- Teaching kids to code
- Best free translation apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- Five worst SMB security threats... and how to solve them
- Apple iOS vs Android vs Windows 8 – what's the best compact tablet OS?
- The 12 best tablets of 2014: what’s the best tablet on the market?
- How to free up hard disk space
- Driverless cars: could your next car be driven by a robot?
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?