We've mentioned the R600-108's disappointing battery life, and we should here add the screen to the list of weaknesses too. Our battery life test is run with the screen set to maximum brightness, but even then we found the R600's "high brightness" screen rather dim. The display's viewing angle is narrower than most. During 3DMark06's game-style image rendering, the backlight appeared to be illuminating the screen very unevenly, but we think that's more a factor of the display's limited viewing angle than the backight per se. With no bright days this time of year, we couldn't test the screen's outdoor visibility, but it didn't impress us indoors.
That's likely to affect all the machines in the R600 range, but at least other models have optical drives as some compensation. They have better battery lives too. Toshiba quotes four 4h 35m for the R600, but 8h 25m for the R600-101, R600-11Q and R600-10Q, and 9h 30m for the R600-102, which, despite its lower model number, offers the same or better features than the R600-108.
Not a great display
The machine we tested costs a whopping £1839 inc VAT, but only £115 more will buy you the 102 with its bigger battery and optical drive. The 101 costs £1379, for which you also get an optical drive and a longer battery life, but a 200GB HDD instead of the 128GB SSD. The 10Q is £1264, but the saving comes at the cost of 40GB of hard drive capacity and the removal of the HSDPA card.
Balancing features, battery life, price and portability, we'd pick the R600-101 over the R600-108 any day. More storage space, more untethered runtime, more weight (1114g to 800g), lower price - there's no contest.
Mind you, even a pay-extra-for-the-looks netbook, like the Eee PC S101 is still a third of the price. While the S101's PCMark05 scores are lower than the R600's, for the kind of workloads both are likely to be put to, the Asus isn't going to feel particularly underpowered.
The R600 is proof, if proof were needed, that laptops are like cars. They'll all get you from A to B, but folk will still buy expensive ones, cheap ones, sexy ones, butt-ugly ones - whatever your preference, there's a model for you. If you're after a compact laptop that delivers better performance than a netbook and equivalent portability, and you can afford the price tag, the R600 is worth a look. But for us, the Sony TT beats it, thanks to a better screen. ®
More Notebook Reviews...
Sony Vaio TT
Sony Vaio Z11
Toshiba Portégé R600-108
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!