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Toshiba Portege A600-120 review

David Ludlow
30 Jan 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
930
inc VAT

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Specifications

12.1 in 1,280x800 display, 1.5kg, 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300, 2.00GB RAM, 160GB disk, Windows Vista Business

Toshiba's Portege A600-120 is a fully fledged ultra-portable laptop, being small enough to be carried around all-day everyday.

It's noticeably lighter than Toshiba's Tecra R10. However, although it's small it doesn't make the same sacrifices seen in cut-price netbooks.

It has a 12.1in widescreen display with a resolution of 1,280x800. This makes it easier to use than the tiny 8.9in or 10.1in screens on most netbooks, but keeps the laptop small enough to slip into most bags. The screen has a matt finish, so it's easier to see under bright lighting than glossy models. Though this usually means a reduction in brightness and colour vibrancy, we were impressed with this particular screen. Colours looked natural and whites were clean. It uses an LED backlight, which means it's evenly lit and also uses less power than a standard fluorescent-lit display.

The screen size also means that there's a decent-sized keyboard, with no half-sized keys. It's a pretty comfortable keyboard to type on, too. The key springs are a little soft, but there's plenty of feedback. The relatively large touch pad is one of the best we've used and gave us precise control.

Lots of ultra-portable laptops keep their size and weight down by leaving out hardware or using low-capacity batteries. The Portege A600-120 uses none of these tricks, but manages to weigh a dainty 1.5kg. This weight includes the 5,800MaH battery, which powered the laptop for six hours and 26 minutes in our light-use test.

It's good to see a built-in DVD writer, if only to use the supplied restore disc, which can downgrade the operating system from Vista Business to Windows XP Professional. As Media Center isn't part of Vista Business or XP, Toshiba provides its own DVD playback software.

The main reason to buy an ultra-portable laptop like this, rather than a cheaper netbook, is to get a decent processor. The Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 is one of Intel's low-power processors, which helps with the long battery life. It runs at 1.2GHz, but is dual core and faster than a netbook's Atom processor. It's fine for Vista and office applications, but you won't want to do anything too intensive such as video editing. We'd have preferred a slightly faster processor.

The 160GB hard disk should be big enough for most people's documents, but feels stingy at this price. For an extra £100 you can buy the A600-122, which has a larger 250GB hard disk and a built-in 3G modem.

This laptop mostly manages to get the right balance between performance and portability. However, it's a bit expensive for its specification. Those wanting quicker performance should consider the Tecra R10 instead.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo SU9300
Processor clock speed1.2GHz
Memory2.00GB
Memory slots1
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory5GB
Size29.9x223x286
Weight1.5kg
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption idle14W
Power consumption active17W

Display

Viewable size12.1 in
Native resolution1,280x800
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 4500M HD
Graphics/video portsVGA
Graphics Memory812MB

Storage

Total storage capacity160GB
Optical drive modelMatshita DVD-RAM UJ862AS
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11a/n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/54
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSDHC
Other portseSATA

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows Vista Business
Operating system restore optionrestore disc
Software includedToshiba DVD Player
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantythree years international RTB
Price£930
Detailshttp://uk.computers.toshiba-europe.com
Supplierhttp://www.play.com