Toshiba – Portégé R500-10U review

the lightest notebook money can buy
Photo of Toshiba – Portégé R500-10U
£1,546 + VAT

Looking for a laptop that you can carry around all day and not notice it? Then you might want to take a look at Toshiba’s Portégé R500-10U. In fact, you could carry this one around all week and still not know it. Why? Because it weighs an almost unbelievably light 760g.

However, having a notebook this light isn’t without one or two problems. If you are one of those people who hold their notebooks by one corner, beware: if you do it with the Portégé R500-10U you might well hear a nasty cracking sound.

As you might have guessed, to make a laptop this light means using a lot of plastic in its construction, and with most of the weight being at the rear of the chassis in the form of the battery, the chassis tends to bend towards the back, hence the potential cracking noise. Another thing you have to worry about is giving the Portégé R500-10U enough protection, especially the screen (which is paper thin) when you carry it around.

But that is really nit-picking, as this truly is an ultra portable ultraportable, and it also looks the part, finished in matt silver with mirrored-finish mouse pad and surround.

The ‘wow’ factor continues with the feature set with which Toshiba has equipped the Portégé R500-10U. For starters it is powered by a dual core processor, in this case one of Intel’s Core 2 ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) U7600 chips clocked at 1.2GHz. The CPU is backed by 2GB of PC2-5300 memory, which should keep the installed Vista Business OS happy. Battery life is a little disappointing, though, at just over two hours when running standard Windows applications.

Then you come to the hard drive, and this is another factor in the lightness of the Portégé R500-10U. Toshiba has fitted a solid state hard drive: and not one of those wimpy 32GB jobs either. No, you get a very usable 64GB SSD. To help keep the Portégé R500-10U svelte there is no optical drive, but others in the R500 range do have internal optical drives, so if you need that more than you need low weight, other options are available.

There are plenty of methods for connecting to the outside world, too: 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N Wireless networking with an on/off switch to help save battery life, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 2.0, but unfortunately there’s no 3G support.

The 12.1-inch display is a widescreen unit with a native resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels, and to get it as thin as it is, Toshiba has had to use an LED-backlit LCD. This has no glossy coating on it to give it a higher contrast, which, given that it is aimed at business users in brightly-lit offices, is maybe no bad thing.

Despite the thinness of the chassis you still get three USB 2.0 ports, a 4-pin FireWire port, two audio ports (with a volume control wheel), VGA out, an SD card slot and a PC Card slot, but unfortunately not an Express Card slot.

As with all Toshiba laptops it comes with a whole host of software utilities as well as InterVideo WinDVD, Ulead DVD MovieWriter, Norton Internet Security 2007 and a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office Professional.

Company: Toshiba

Contact: 01932 852 455

Pick up Toshiba's Portégé R500-10U and you'll be stunned by just how little it weighs. On the plus side it's remarkably well priced considering that it has a solid state hard drive, but the down side is the overall fragility and rather poor battery life. You'll have to treat it very gently.