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Toshiba Portégé R500 slimline laptop

Not as sleek as the Air, but packs more features

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For the PCMark05 tests, we referred back to our reviews of the Asus Eee PC and the Maxdata Belinea s.book 1, both similarly aimed at buyers seeking the acme in portability with the ability to run an operating system like Windows.

PCMark05 Results

Toshiba R500 — PCMark05 Results

Longer bars are better

The Asus and the Maxdata failed to complete all the tests, thanks to their basic graphics sub-systems, but you can see the R500 outclasses them in every other respect too. Its GPU is nothing to write home about — it’s enough for Vista’s Aero UI, however, but clearly your not going to get the best experience running the latest 3D games on it. But its number crunching potential is clear, and that’s really what the cost above and beyond that of the other machines buys you.

Issues? The R500’s interior cooling system vents through four holes on the left side of the laptop, and it has a distinct hair-dryer quality. Crank up the machine, and the fans quickly start whirring loudly and blasting out hot air. So watch where you put your hands when you’re not typing.

The laptop itself gets warm, particularly on the left-hand side, but not uncomfortably so.

Very, very portable

So now we come to the killer question: the R500, the MacBook Air, the Eee PC — how do they match up? The comparison with the Eee is easy to address: the Asus machine’s £220 price tag means its in a very different class than the R500. We love the Eee, but it lacks the data storage capacity, processing power, big screen and optical storage that the R500 brings to the table. In its favour, the Eee has its compact size and low price tag. That makes it an excellent second computer, whereas the price of the R500 means you’re likely to want it to be your main machine.

Weight-wise, there’s barely anything in it.

As for the Air, well there’s no doubt the Apple machine looks smarter and feels better built than Toshiba’s, and has a bigger screen. But it’s heavier and has no optical drive, no Ethernet and fewer USB ports. The R500’s hard drive isn’t quick, but from what we’ve read of the Air, Toshiba’s HDD is the faster of the two.

Yes, the Air is a thing of beauty, but when it comes to getting the job done in the most portable way, the R500 beats it hands down. It’s more expensive, but you’re getting many more features for your money.

Verdict

Toshiba’s Portege R500 is pricey and its construction doesn’t inspire confidence, but you simply can’t argue with how incredibly portable it is. Yes, you can buy cheaper full-size laptops. True, you can get yourself more powerful ones. But the R500 is about delivering a decent computing experience in a casing you can carry in your hand all day, which few other machine can. For us, that makes it a winner.

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Toshiba Portégé R500 slimline laptop

Don’t let the plastic casing fool you — the R500 is a (very portable) marvel…
Price: £1350 RRP

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