Toshiba Portege R30-A1302 review

The Toshiba Portege R30-A1302 ultraportable has a high-powered processor and speedy solid-state drive (SSD). It's not the most forward-looking system in the world, but its throwback features, such as a DVD drive and ExpressCard port, will keep veteran users happy.
Photo of Toshiba Portege R30-A1302

The Toshiba Portege R30-A1302 ($1,599, as tested) is an ultraportable with a high-powered Intel Core i7 processor and speedy solid-state drive (SSD). Add to that all-day battery life, and you have the potential for an excellent power user’s business laptop. Unfortunately, the rest of the system is pretty mediocre, which makes it merely a good system.

Design and Features
The Portege R30-A1302 has an old-school ultraportable design, which makes it chunky-looking compared with the sleeker ultrabooks, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch, Acer Aspire S7-392-6411, and the Editors’ Choice for ultraportables, the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (2013). It’s a smidge over an inch thick, at 1.04 by 12.4 by 9 inches (HWD). But it weighs a light 3.18 pounds.

The larger side panels on the chassis let Toshiba add full-size ports like VGA, ExpressCard, and Ethernet, with room to spare. There is space for a tray-loading DVD burner, which is a welcome feature for users in record-keeping departments. Other, more modern ports include three USB 3.0 ports, SD card slot, HDMI, and a headset jack. The dual pointing devices consist of a one-piece multitouch touchpad embedded in the palm rest, and a pointing stick and separate mouse buttons in the usual spots just below the keyboard. The chiclet-style, spill-resistant keyboard is responsive, but has a slightly spongy feel and showed some flex.

A removable 66Wh battery slides into the bottom of the Portege R30-A1302, which is a step back to laptops of the past. Many modern designs, including just about all ultrabooks, eschew a removable battery in order to offer a slimmer chassis. This throwback feature lets you keep fully charged battery spares around, though.

The 256GB SSD has close to 200GB available when you take the ultraportable out of the box. The Portege R30-A1302 comes with Windows 7 Professional, since it lacks the touch screen that makes Windows 8 more usable. Given that Windows 8 may still be a year or two away from adoption for many companies, and Windows XP has lost all Microsoft support options, Windows 7 is the optimal compromise.

The screen has a 1,366-by-768 native resolution, which is adequate for business applications. However, complex spreadsheet or database users will find themselves yearning for a screen with a higher resolution, in order to display more data on the screen at once. Viewing angles were somewhat narrow, compared with the In-Plane Switching (IPS) displays on systems like the MacBook Pro and Dell Latitude e7440 Touch. The ultraportable comes with a standard three-year warranty.

Performance

The Portege R30-A1302 has a dual-core Intel Core i7-4600M processor, 8GB of system memory, and integrated Intel HD 4600 graphics. Booting and waking from sleep happens within seconds, thanks to the system’s SSD, which also helped it score 4,727 points on PCMark 7. That’s better than rivals like the Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (4,562), though the Portege R30-A1302 was in a statistical dead heat with the Lenovo X1 Carbon (4,724) and Dell e7440 (4,702). On the multimedia front, the Portege R30-A1302 was faster than the two Lenovos and the Dell e7440, but had similar scores to the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch. Both the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch and Portege R30-A1302 took about a minute on the Handbrake test and about 4.5 minutes on the Adobe Photoshop CS6 test.

The ultraportable excelled on our battery rundown test at 9 hours 20 minutes, lasting far longer than the Lenovo T440s (7:21) and Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch (4:46). The Portege R30-A1302′s all-day performance still lagged behind that of the MacBook Pro (11:26) by a few hours. It should be noted, however, that you can always replace a drained battery on the Toshiba unit with a fresh, fully-charged spare; the MacBook Pro has a sealed battery in its Unibody chassis.

The Toshiba Portege R30-A1302′s appeal lies in the familiarity of its design and features. It has lots of legacy tech, like ExpressCard, VGA, and a DVD burner, in a chassis design that won’t confuse veteran users in your organization. But its $1,600 price tag is similar to that of ultrabooks and other ultraportables that have a higher-resolution touch screen, like the Lenovo X1 Carbon and Dell e7440 Touch. That same price can also get you an ultraportable with a better battery life, like the Editors’ Choice Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch.

Specifications
Processor Name Intel Core i7-4600M
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Weight 3.18 lb
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 4400
Screen Type Widescreen
Type Ultraportable, Business, Small Business
RAM 8 GB
Networking Options 802.11n (2.4+5 GHz Dualband)
Touch Screen No
Processor Speed 2.9 GHz
Primary Optical Drive Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
Screen Size 13.3 inches
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 256 GB
Storage Type SSD

Verdict
The Toshiba Portege R30-A1302 ultraportable has a high-powered processor and speedy solid-state drive (SSD). It's not the most forward-looking system in the world, but its throwback features, such as a DVD drive and ExpressCard port, will keep veteran users happy.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc