Toshiba Portégé R500-11Z notebook review

This year we've seen quite a number of high profile notebook launches aimed at the thin and light segment of the market and while Toshiba may not have made as many headlines with its R500 series, it's a great machine in its own right.

Weighing in at just 1.1kg, this machine is as light as some of the new breed of mini-notebooks that have been grabbing the headlines of late. It may be light and the design compact but you won't find any compromises in performance or features.

The body is tough and feels designed to meet the needs of regular travel. You'll also find a DVD rewriter built-in, which is an impressive piece of engineering for a notebook of this size.

The 12.1-inch Super-TFT screen uses LED technology to deliver a far better image quality than you'll find with standard fluorescent screens. For the traveller, it also has the added advantage of being thinner and lighter. At first glance the screen looks a little too thin but Toshiba has added plenty of protection to the back of the screen, which helps keep the overall machine sturdy.

LED technology can also dramatically cut down on a screen's power usage, so the battery life of close to 6 hours from our test machine didn't come as a shock. This level of use is great if you need to use your notebook for long stretches of the day.

The screen allows for a good-sized keyboard and while we were initially expecting it to feel cramped, this is one of the most comfortable keyboards we've used of this size. The keys span the full width of the main body and feel really smooth as you type.

So far, there have been no compromises made with the R500. However, when it comes to performance, you'll find that Toshiba has had to opt for a low-voltage chip in order to fit in with the thermal dynamic of the case

Powered by an Intel 1.33GHz Core 2 Duo U7700 and backed by 2048MB of memory which is fine for most office tasks and we even found it could run multiple applications with ease. As it's designed to extend battery life instead of sheer processing power, it's not ideal for heavy-duty tasks. The 160GB hard drive is a 1.8-inch disk, which uses less space than a standard notebook drive but does run a little slower.

The drive is shock-mounted to protect in case the laptop is dropped. Other neat design features include a water-resistant layer beneath the keyboard to protect against spills, while a built-in fingerprint scanner reinforces the idea of security.

Verdict

The Toshiba Portégé R500-11Z is a fantastic notebook for anyone who needs to use their machine for long periods when away from mains power. Had it delivered a slightly faster performance for the price, this would have scored a slightly higher score. As it is, the R500 is a great all-round ultraportable that just misses out on being ideal.