Toshiba Portégé R600
Review People like netbooks for two key reasons: price and portability. Even the not-so-cheap models deliver a decent daily use performance in a form that's the peak of pick-up-and-go computing.
Toshiba's Portégé R600: lighter than a netbook
Well, they're not at the peak any longer. Toshiba unveiled the Portégé R600 last autumn as the Centrino 2 upgrade to the R500, which we took a look at in February 2008. The R500 weighed barely less than an Asus Eee PC 701 - the R600 we have here is even lighter still.
And bear in mind this is is the original 7in Eee we're talking about, not one of its larger, more recent siblings. We kid you not: the 800g R600 feels as if there's nothing inside the case.
What it actually has is an aluminium-alloy chassis into which is slotted a 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 processor which sits on an 800MHz frontside bus, linking it up to 3GB of DDR 2 memory. Storage comes courtesy of a netbook-style SSD but with a hard drive-level 128GB capacity. The screen is a netbook-beating 12.1in, 1280 x 800, LED-backlit panel driven by Intel's latest integrated graphics core, the GMA 4500MHD, part of the GS45 chipset.
True to its go-anywhere ambitions, the R600 incorporates 802.11n Wi-Fi and a network-unlocked 7.2Mb/s HSDPA 3G module. It also has Bluetooth.
Less weight than a netbook, but a bigger spec
Taking a trip around the plastic casing we have, from the back to the front, power, VGA, combo USB 2.0/eSATA, vanilla USB and 3.5mm audio ports and a volume wheel on the left side. The right side is home to a Gigabit Ethernet socket, a third USB port, a switch for the wireless sub-system, an ExpressCard 54 bay and an SDHC card slot.
I'm not bothered about an optical drive. The price of this is inline with Sony's ultra-portables. And traditionally you do pay a premium for miniaturisation/low weight.
However, with some of the new netbooks coming out I struggle to see a market for any laptop priced over £800-1000.
I've got a 3Kg Asus from 4 yrs ago, still works perfectly but its 1.8GHz centrino does feel a bit slow compared to recent dual core laptops. But when I think what my laptop usage is... editing source code/text files, browsing web, watching some video/films (x264/xvid, not DVD)
That's why I'm planning to get an HP Mini 2140 when it finally arrives, technically a downgrade in processor spec, but a definite upgrade in portability (1.1Kg) and battery life (5+ hrs)
Why? Just Why?
Would anyone spend more than say £1000 on any one item of PC gear especially a commodity item like a laptop?
More money than sense maybe?
Nice but lacking
If you can afford that then go all out for a fully equipped one with the full works, which doesn't include the Air unfortunately. Plus consider that mass is only one measurement of size - a 13" machine has a significantly larger footprint (about the biggest a plane seat can handle) than one of these ultraportables, though at the reduced dimensions the quality of screen becomes paramount, which is where the Vaio does have the edge... they seem to manage to put amazing screens in their premium tiny machines.
Have to agree with Robert that the accessories that some machines require kinda defeat the purpose - I have small and light kit that only require a power pack to travel with and NO other peripherals. I know some people say you don't need an optical drive, or RJ45 or whatever, but I personally like to rock up to a new client knowing that I can handle whatever they give me rather than sheepishly tell them that my fancy machine can't do it that way and can they accomodate my needs!
I've toyed with Porteges before and generally i find they feel flimsy, much as the TT and TX Vaios do as well. I have an SZ Vaio which is just fels great - the lid is so sturdy for its thinness (magnesium or carbon fibre?) that my work HP has some nasty lines on the screen from my (bad) habit of picking it up by the lid whilst open.
Of course, nothing beats an old Thinkpad for cockroach-esque survivability!
R500 fan boy
I love my R500, and bought it despied it receiving similarly mixed reviews. So light, nothing else with a DVD drive comes close and no probs so far on reliability, even if that skinny screen does seem alarmingly fragile.
I'm shocked by Reg's battery test results. I regularly get 5 hours out of my R500, so I hope this R600 sample is unrepresentative.
As for the thread comment that the Mac Air is 'only 500g heavier,' that's 500g heavier than an 850g laptop, and with the Apple you'll need to take a seperate DVD drive, and a 3g modem, so it ends up being about 2.5x the weight...
My one wish for an R700, would be for an ultra compact power supply (like the one with the Dell Mini 9). The one with the R500 weighs almost as much as the machine itself, which is just silly!
70 per cent ???
70%? Are El Reg tests dumbing down to the same extent as GCSEs and A Levels?
You basically spent the review slating its looks, battery life, screen and construction. And it's bloody expensive. Yet it still gets 70%. Feels more like a 30 and a fail to me.
Still, the R600 makes the MacBook Air look like good value... And the Vaio TT.
Paris, 'cos she's dumbed down. Obviously.