Toshiba Portégé R700-17W review
Small and incredibly light, the R700 still has a decent display resolution, near-desktop performance, good battery life and a three-year warranty.
Review Date: 26 Feb 2011
Price when reviewed: £690
Reviewed By: Barry de la Rosa
We've reviewed more expensive models in Toshiba's ultra-portable Portégé range, but the R700-17W is considerably lighter on the wallet. It lacks an optical drive or a 3G modem, but it weighs only 1.3kg and lasts for almost seven hours away from the mains. For those who value peace of mind, its three-year warranty is a big plus. LaptopsDirect lists the price as £620, but that’s including a trade-in offer where Toshiba will give £75 for your old laptop, as long as it’s one of 16 qualifying brands, no more than four years old and in good working order. The offer is available until 28 February 2011.
1.3kg is incredibly light for a laptop with a 13.3in screen, although sacrificing an optical drive to keep the weight down may be a compromise too far for some people. However, it’s worth thinking about whether you need an optical drive while on the move – you can always buy an external one for installing software.
An Intel Core i3-370M running at 2.4GHz helped the R700 to an overall score of 83 in our benchmarks, despite having only 2GB of RAM. This is plenty for most applications, but if you work with large files such as high-resolution photos or like to keep multiple applications running at the same time, you may want to invest in more memory. The Core i3's integrated graphics chip can decode HD video but it struggled in our gaming benchmarks.
The brushed magnesium alloy case looks smart and helps to keep the weight down. The keyboard has a standard layout, with a column of page navigation keys down the right-hand side. The keys are smaller than normal and their flat, square design resembles Scrabble tiles. Their action is bouncy and lacks bite, so there's little feedback for touch-typists. The touchpad is responsive and surprisingly large, and its two buttons have a light action.
As with most business-oriented laptops, the screen has a matt finish to reduce glare from overhead lights, which reduces the impact of colours somewhat. Although it's LED backlit, the lighting is uneven and not as bright as some, and has a green cast that dulls flesh tones. On a positive note, it has slightly better vertical viewing angles than screens with a glossy finish.
There's a decent collection of expansion ports around the outside edge, with analogue VGA and digital HDMI video outputs. The internal speakers are loud but tinny, so connecting a set of external speakers or headphones is advised for video playback. There are three USB ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA port and can also be used to charge devices when the laptop is sleeping.
If you're looking for a light laptop with long battery life, you needn’t necessarily spend this much. The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11 costs £470, lasted a few minutes longer in our light-use battery life test and weighs only a little more. The Toshiba is significantly faster, though. It also includes a three-year warranty, which adds a lot of value. On balance, we feel it’s worth the bigger investment, and deserving of our Best Buy award.
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