Toshiba – Portégé R600-101 review

latest ultra-light notebook
Photo of Toshiba – Portégé R600-101
£1,199 + VAT

When it comes to ultraportable notebooks, everyone wants to lay claim to producing the thinnest and lightest. Toshiba’s R600 updates an earlier thin and light model, the R500.

And it is certainly light. Models in the R600 range start at (a very precise) 0.774kg. A solid state hard drive helps meet this amazingly light specification, with most of the models having a physical hard drive instead and clocking in at (an equally precise) 1.114Kg.

Which has consequences: the casing isn’t as robust as it could be. There is a fair amount of flex in the lid section, and the wrist rest area too we found to be a bit lacking in solidity.

The 12.1-inch screen delivers 1280 x 800 pixels. The viewing angles aren’t great, and the screen is neither as sharp nor as bright as we’d like. A button on the keyboard area turns the screen backlight off. This lets you use ambient light to work in and is designed to help conserve battery power, but we found it difficult to read the screen like this. It would probably only really be workable on bright, sunny days.

The keyboard is good but it too has its low points, most notably that there is a fair amount of flex, which won’t appeal to everyone. But the Enter key is nice and large and the keyboard is spill-resistant.

The touchpad incorporates vertical and horizontal scrolling, and there is a fingerprint sensor nestled between the left and right mouse buttons. A VGA webcam sits above the screen.

All but one model in the R600 range runs the 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 processor found in our review sample. We had 3GB of RAM in our version, with the maximum set at 5GB. Hard drives up to 320GB are available as well as that above-mentioned solid state drive, which has a 128GB capacity. Our review sample had a conventional 200GB hard drive.

WiFi support for a, b, g and Draft-N is built-in, as is Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet. And the R600-101 also includes support for HSDPA to 7.2Mbps: the SIM slot is under the battery.

We managed to work for half a day between battery charges and got the notebook to play a DVD movie for nearly three and a half hours from a full charge. This is acceptable but it is way off Toshiba’s claim of 8.25 hours. We reckon you’d have to work very lightly to approach that.

Ports and connectors run to a flash memory card reader for SD and compatible cards, a DVD drive, two USB connectors as well as a combined eSATA/USB port, Ethernet connector, external monitor connector, microphone and headphones sockets and an ExpressCard slot. There is a volume wheel too.

Company: Toshiba

Contact: 0844 847 8944

The R600-101 is a real eye catcher, and it is light. But the build quality isn't what it could be and neither screen nor keyboard wowed us. The battery life claim should probably be taken with a large pinch of salt too.