Top ultraportable laptops

Ideal for the users who value portability while demanding more performance than you'd get from a netbook, these notebooks stand out for their low weight and small footprint

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Toshiba Portege R700-S1330
Toshiba Portege R700-S1330 Review, by Patrick Joynt August 19, 2010



Great style for any user
Superb performance in an ultraportable package

Mushy Chiclet-style keyboard
Too hot, too noisy

Bottom Line: Toshiba delivers a great machine with a few annoying flaws.

Toshiba's new Portégé R700 surprised me with its mature styling, serious muscle, and ridiculously light heft. Despite being a true ultraportable, this machine is quite powerful--Toshiba somehow even fit an optical drive on it! But a few unpleasant surprises make the whopping $1599 price tag less appealing.

The 13.3- inch laptop accommodates three USB plugs (one a USB/eSATA combo), headphone/microphone jacks, an HDMI plug, a VGA plug, an ethernet port, a memory stick port, an optical drive, a 128GB solid-state drive, a Core i7 620M running at 2.67GHz, and 4GB of RAM--all tucked into a 12.44-by-8.94-by-0.66-inch frame weighing 3.2 pounds (the rear of the unit fattens out to a width of just over 1 inch). That's power to spare for most on-the-go users, as reflected in an excellent WorldBench 6 score of 128. Factor in a battery life of almost 6 hours, and you have the makings of a pretty awesome ultraportable laptop.

The screen is a reasonably good LED-backlit matte LCD, filling out a resolution of 1366 by 768 easily enough. Colors were good, but the R700 struggles to fill large black areas in video. The Intel HD integrated graphics solution is more than adequate for playing modest video; it even playing through the HDMI port without difficulty. Horizontal viewing angles are excellent, but vertical viewing angles most certainly aren't. The audio can't fill a room, the speakers get a bit shrill at high volume, and there's no bass to speak of--so rely on the headphone jack instead.

The laptop's black plastic interior complements its black metal lid. The "Toshiba" emblazoned on the lid itself, and the two hinges provide silver accents. Almost everything feels very sturdy, and the keys have remarkably little flex. The display lid, however, is a bit too thin and flexible.

The R700's gigantic touchpad invites occasional accidental contact, but none of the touchpad responses I triggered slowed my work on the machine significantly. If it does become an annoyance, you can tap a handy little button between the keyboard and the touchpad to deactivate the touchpad altogether (or to toggle it back on).

Unfortunately, this laptop has three major drawbacks. Foremost among these is the keyboard, whose Chiclet-style keys are incredibly far apart and mushy to the touch. Second, the powerful technology packed in the small space generated quite a bit of heat along the left edge and bottom of the machine. And third, the fan used to dissipate the heat was noisy. For me, these shortcomings made using the R700 less comfortable, but they weren't deal breakers.

The R700 is a fantastic machine for a specific niche: laptop users who want to combine lots of power with extremely light weight. If you want to change the specific components, Toshiba makes it very easy to customize your machine when you order it (I would drop the solid-state drive in favor of a bit more storage on a traditional hard-disk drive, for example).

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