Toshiba Portégé R700-15Q

  • Editors' rating
    8.2 Excellent

Pros

  • Compact design
  • High-quality 13.3in. screen
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Keyboard is a little unresponsive
  • No optical drive in some configurations
  • Too much flex in the lid section

Toshiba's Portégé R700 updates the R600, which we reviewed over 18 months ago. That's a long time to wait for an update to a generally excellent little ultraportable notebook. One notable complaint was that, as with 2007's R500, the R600 suffered from poor battery life. Toshiba claims up to nine hours of battery life for the R700, though, so has that barrier finally been overcome?

The Portégé R700 comes in several configurations, starting with the entry-level Core i3-based R700-15Q (£629 ex. VAT), reviewed here. There are currently seven other models, culminating in the Core i7-based R700-155 (£1,299 ex. VAT).

Toshiba's 13.3in. Portégé R700 range includes Core i3-, i5- and i7-based ultraportables weighing between 1.28kg and 1.43kg

Design
The R700's chassis is neat and stylish, with a lightly brushed-metal look to the black magnesium lid, and a tapering front. There's a little more give in the lid than we'd like, and no clasp between the lid and the main body of the notebook. You'll need a good-quality case of some kind to keep this notebook well protected when you're travelling.

Our review sample weighed 1.28kg. The weight rises as you ascend the price range and add components, topping out at 1.43kg. The R700's 31.6cm-by-22.7cm footprint doesn't change as you move through the range, but the minimum thickness rises from 1.68cm to 1.83cm for configurations with a double-layer optical drive. Whatever model you choose, then, this is a compact and lightweight notebook.

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Like many current ultraportables and netbooks, the Portégé R700 uses a 'chiclet'-style keyboard

Inside, Toshiba has followed the current trend for 'chiclet'-style keyboards. The key action is very light and will probably suit long-time touch typists best. We found it comfortable, but others may bemoan its lack of response.

The number row is topped by a slightly squashed row of Fn keys. The 'inverted-T' arrangement of cursor keys is in its usual location to the lower right of the QWERTY keys, but no secondary functions are offered here.

One of the Fn keys locks the touchpad out, and this function is duplicated by a very small button sitting beneath the space bar. Two buttons to the upper right of the screen offer quick access to an external monitor and to the Toshiba Eco Utility, which helps you conserve battery life.

The touchpad itself is large and responsive. There are scroll zones along its right and bottom edges. A rectangle beneath the touchpad is made from a shiny plastic that looks odd next to the matte finish of the rest of the chassis; like the chrome hinges, this design touch looks out of place. It houses the mouse buttons, fingerprint sensor and, along the very bottom, indicator lights that are visible when the notebook is closed.

The 13.3in. non-reflective LED-backlit screen has a native resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels (16:9 aspect ratio). Viewing angles are good, especially on the horizontal plane. The screen is crisp and sharp too, making it possible to work with two documents opened at once and quite small text on display — if your eyesight is up to it!

Features
There are currently eight different Toshiba Portégé R700 models. Our review sample was the entry-level 15Q configuration costing £629 (ex VAT). The top -end 155 model costs £1,299 (ex VAT).

All variants run Windows 7 Professional 32-bit and come with a DVD_based downgrade to Windows XP Professional. Our review sample had a 2.26GHz Intel Core i3-350M processor and 2GB of RAM. Three of the models come with 4GB of RAM, while more powerful processor options include a 2.4GHz Core i5-520M and, in the most expensive model, a 2.66GHz Core i7-620M. In all cases graphics are managed by Intel's CPU-integrated HD Graphics. ="http:>

Hard drives vary little across the range: all but the most expensive configuration have a shock-protected 320GB drive, while the top-end model uses a 128MB SSD. All models offer Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and four of the eight models add in mobile broadband too.

If you want an optical drive you'll need to look at the £779 (ex. VAT) Portégé R700-15U, and if you want a double-layer optical drive then you need to go further up the scale. The optical drive, if present, sits on the right edge of the chassis. Some models, although not our entry-level unit, also have an ExpressCard slot.

Ports and connectors are a little limited. The right-hand side houses a card reader for SD and compatible formats, a pair of audio jacks, a single USB 2.0 port and the Ethernet (RJ-45) connector. The front and back are clear. The left side houses an HDMI port, a second USB 2.0 port, a combined eSATA/USB port with sleep-and-charge for USB devices, a VGA port and the power connector.

You can use the R700's webcam for face-recognition-based login

There is a VGA-resolution web camera above the screen and, as usual with Toshiba notebooks, when you put the cursor on the left edge of the screen a menu pops out that lets you run the camera software. You can use the camera for face-recognition-based login, and can put a small selection of frames around an image.

Toshiba provides its now-familiar Bulletin Board application, which allows you to gather shortcuts to documents, widgets and notes in one place. The company's ReelTime service provides a thumbnail-based timeline of recently accessed files.

Toshiba's power-saving Eco Utility in action

You also get Toshiba's Eco Utility, which monitors the system power usage and allows you to quickly switch into a energy-saving mode to conserve battery life.

Performance
The R700-15Q's Windows Experience Index (WEI) of 4.0 (out of 7.9) isn't stellar, but the overall rating is actually the score for the lowest-performing component — which in this case is the lowest performing by some margin. The score of 4.0 went to Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero).

The remaining scores are much more respectable: 5.1 for Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance), 5.5 for Memory (RAM Memory operations per second), 5.9 for Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate) and 6.2 for Processor (calculations per second).

As far as battery life is concerned, Toshiba claims just under 9 hours (8 hours 55 minutes) for all models except the most expensive Corei7/SSD-equipped model, which has a rating of 8 hours 10 minutes. To test this we selected the Eco power plan, turned Toshiba's Eco Utility on and (in the absence of an optical drive) played video from a USB stick for as long as possible. We got video playback for 4 hours 12 minutes under these conditions, which is very good indeed.

The audio subsystem delivers reasonable volume but moderate quality. That's par for the course for a business notebook, and the volume is good enough to deliver a presentation with audio to a small group direct from the notebook.

If you like to work with a notebook on your lap for extended periods, then it's worth noting that the left edge, by the cooling vent, got quite warm. There's no cause for concern regarding the notebook's viability, but your left leg may get get a bit warm after a while.

Conclusion
Toshiba's Portégé R700 is a well-made 13.3in. ultraportable whose only significant issue is a rather flexible lid section. Some users may find the keyboard too spongy for their liking, and you'll have to move up the range if you want an integrated optical drive. Battery life is good, though, and that could be enough to tip the scales in the R700's favour.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Security Chip
Preinstalled OS Windows 7
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i3 350M / 2.26 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache L2 - 3 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Chipset Type Mobile Intel HM55 Express
Features Enhanced SpeedStep technology, Execute Disable Bit capability
Cache Memory
Type L2 cache
RAM
Technology DDR3 SDRAM
Storage
Interface Serial ATA-150
Type none
Type portable
Memory
Technology DDR3 SDRAM
Speed 1066 MHz
Slots Qty 2
Empty Slots 0
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Widescreen Display Yes
Monitor Features HighBrightness
Type LED
Display Resolution Abbreviation HD
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 20 - 80%
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0
Integrated Webcam Yes
Resolution (MP) 0.3 Megapixel
Sound Stereo speakers , microphone
Audio Codec Realtek ALC269Q
Features Toshiba Bass Enhanced Sound System
Hard Drive
Type HDD
Input
Type keyboard, touchpad
Features multi-touch touchpad, spill-proof
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11n, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
Wired Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
Processor
CPU Type Core i3
Processor Number i3-350M
Manufacturer Intel
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Floppy Drive
Type none
Battery
Technology lithium ion
Card Reader
Type card reader
Supported Flash Memory MultiMediaCard, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, microSD, miniSD
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces VGA
LAN
Microphone input
Headphone output
2 x USB 2.0
USB 2.0/eSATA
HDMI
Memory Card Reader Yes ( SD Card, MultiMediaCard, miniSD, SDHC Card, microSD )
Header
Brand Toshiba
Product Line Toshiba Portégé
Model R700-15Q
Country Kits United Kingdom
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Miscellaneous
Color black magnesium
Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Security Chip , fingerprint reader
Features Intel Anti-Theft Technology (iAT), Toshiba EasyGuard, administrator password, hard drive password, security lock slot (cable lock sold separately), system password
Included Laptop Accessories power adapter
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Compliant Standards Wi-Fi CERTIFIED
Wireless LAN Supported Yes
System
Notebook Type notebook
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Security Chip
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Software
Microsoft Office Preloaded Includes a pre-loaded image of select Microsoft Office 2010 suites. Purchase an Office 2010 Product Key Card or disc to activate preloaded software on this PC.
Audio Output
Compliant Standards High Definition Audio
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 1 year warranty
Mainboard
Chipset Type Mobile Intel HM55 Express
Environmental Standards
EPEAT Level EPEAT Gold
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows 7 Professional / XP Professional downgrade
Type Amazon, Nero BackItUp & Burn Essentials, Skype, Toshiba Assist, Toshiba Bluetooth Monitor, Toshiba Bluetooth Stack, Toshiba ConfigFree, Toshiba Disc Creator, Toshiba Photo Service, Toshiba Recovery Media Creator, Toshiba Supervisor Password Utility, Bing Toolbar, Toshiba Value Added Package, WildTangent Game Console, Windows Live Essentials, ebay, Chicony Camera Assistant Software, Connectivity Doctor, Drivers & Utilities, Face Recognition software, McAfee Internet Security Suite (30 days subscription), Microsoft Works, Nero 9 Essentials
Preinstalled OS Windows 7
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics
Video Memory
Memory Allocation Technology Dynamic Video Memory Technology 5.0
Notebook Camera
Integrated Webcam Yes
Resolution (MP) 0.3 Megapixel
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type international warranty
Location carry-in
Full Contract Period 1 year

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