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Toshiba Portégé R600

Netbook-beating portability

Keen readers will have already noted the absence of an optical drive from the list. Toshiba sent us the R600-108 variant, which lacks this component, the better to keep the weight down. We'll take a gander at the other models when we discuss pricing at the end of the review, but for now it's enough to say other laptops in the R600 series do include slimline multi-format DVD writers.

Toshiba Portege R600

Less than 2cm thick

Like the R500 before it, the R600 is painted matte silver, which gives it a tacky look relieved only by the black screen surround. It's not beige, at least, but the R600's physical design is good and deserves a better colour scheme than the one Toshiba's selected for it.

Likewise, Toshiba doesn't appear to have done anything to address one of our key criticisms of the R500: the bendy lid. It's the same problem you get with Sony's slimline Vaio TT: reducing the thickness of the lid to four or five millimetres is all well and good, but you can't ignore its lack of rigidity.

Now, Toshiba maintains this bendiness is a good thing: it allows the screen to bend during an impact rather than break. There's probably some truth in that, but how far a laptop has to fall before the screen flex no longer makes a difference is unclear. The flex may make it more resistant to knocks and bumps, bit we don't think the display on an open R600 knocked off a desk onto a hardwood floor is going to survive.

The lightness of the laptop means you can open the screen with just a push - you need to hold down the front of the machine too, or the whole think pivots at the back and lifts up. Once open past 30° the screen can be tilted with a finger without moving the laptop.

Toshiba Portege R600

How useful is a thin, bendy screen?

Open, the R600's keyboard is revealed as the same full-size array as before and like you'll find on most laptops. The keyboard lacks rigidity, but it seems more solidly underpinned than the one on the R500 - it's certainly fine to use. There's the same trackpad, with a fingerprint sensor between the chrome-look buttons and array of status LEDs below them.

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