Hands on with the Toshiba Portege R700

A light but sufficiently feature packed notebook

EARLIER TODAY WE attended a Toshiba event where the company was showing off its new Portégé R700 13.3-inch notebook. We wrote about it before, but as the RX3W which it is known as in the Japanese market. Their Portégé range of notebooks has always been one of Toshiba’s flagship models which have made a good compromise between portability and performance.


The Portégé R700 doesn’t differ in that sense as this 1.4kg notebook packs a full fat Core iSomethingorOther processor and even an optical drive into a chassis that measures a mere 25.6mm at its thickest point. It’s actually quite impressive to see how many features Toshiba has managed to squeeze into the R700 considering that most of its competitors  don’t get anywhere close. The only similar notebook we can think of is the latest generation of the Vaio Z from Sony, although Sony claims that the Vaio Z is a smidgen lighter.

Then again, with the Portégé R700 starting out for as little as $889.99, the Vaio Z is in an entirely different category of super light notebooks, as you’ll need to pay twice as much for the entry level Vaio Z and then some compared to the entry level R700. Ok, so the most basic Vaio Z has a faster processor, an SSD RAID array and a discrete graphics card, but you pay a big premium for the extra features, so unless you desperately need them, the Portégé R700 is without a doubt the more affordable way to go if you’re looking for a sub 1.5kg notebook.

The most basic model of the Portégé R700 actually goes under the name of the R705 and it differs from the R700 models in several ways. The R705 is the consumer model of the R700 and as such it comes with Windows 7 Home Premium. However, oddly enough it’s also the only model that supports Intel’s recently introduced Wireless Display technology, something you’d think that business users would use. The R705 also lacks the ExpressCard slot and for some extremely silly reason it also doesn’t have Bluetooth standard.

The R700-series is available with a range of processors starting with the Core i3 350M for the sub $1000 models, moving up to the Core i5 520M for $1300, and all the way to the $1600 Core i6 620M model. Toshiba supplies Windows 7 Professional on all models in both 32-bit and 64-bit as well as a Windows XP Professional downgrade option. Also common between all models is 4GB of DDR3 memory, a DVD SuperMulti drive, a 1366×768 resolution 13.3-inch matte (about *&^%*#$ time) display with LED backlight, two USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA/USB combo port which will also charge your mobile devices when the notebook is switched off, an HDMI port, a D-sub connector, an ExpressCard slot, and SD card slot, a pair of audio jacks, a webcam, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and Gigabit Ethernet. The Core i3 350M models come with a 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive, while the Core i5 520M models feature a 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive and finally the Core i7 620M model comes with an unspecified 128GB SSD. All of the R700 models also feature a three year warranty as standard.

Toshiba has done some interesting engineering with the R700 and it starts with the honeycomb magnesium alloy chassis which is vacuum die-casted. This is what helps make the R700 so light while remaining rigid.  Handling the notebook feels like any other notebook, with the exception of its unusually low weight. Toshiba has also developed a different kind of cooling solution for the R700 in co-operation with Intel. This new cooling system works by taking the air in via an air opening in the bottom of the left hand side of the notebook – which is on the same side as the hot components – and blowing it out on the left hand side. Normally notebooks take in cool air at one side and blows out the hot air on the other side and Toshiba claims that this new approach works much better.

The R700 has also been drop tested, albeit only from a height of a mere 76cm which means that if you drop it from your desk or standing up it might not survive. You can also spill 30ml of liquid on the keyboard without damaging the R700, but more impressively it has also passed a 100kg pressure test which means that it won’t break if someone would accidentally step on it. All in all, this is a really impressive product from Toshiba, although we can still see people that belong to the ThinkPad squad complain about the R700 as it simply looks too good to be a reliable workhorse, right?S|A

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