On Reviewing the Toshiba Portege R700-15X: It’s Slim, Shiny and Super-Durable

It’s all about the details:

  • Ultraportable, super slim – 1.4kg
  • Intel Core i5 processor
  • 13.3in, 1,366 x 768, matt screen
  • Loads of perks, bells and whistles

It’s been so long since I’ve written a review, I’m not sure I even remember how. 😉 A couple of weeks ago, I arrived home to an electronic surprise – the Toshiba Portege R700 notebook to play with.

First impressions – make them count – It’s slim. Super slim. Very lightweight. Perfect for mobility. I packed it in my hospital bag, and barely noticed it was there. So if you’re a frequent traveler, this little machine is worth checking out. It’s durable. If knocked or bumped, the R700 will move the hard drive to a safe position – this little beast has a 3D sensor to protect it against drops and shocks.

Despite being so skinny, the R700 hasn’t sacrificed on anything – there’s an optical drive. Most small computers achieve their petite status by sacrificing the optical drive, but not the R700. This is not an important feature for me, but because I can see it being useful for others, I’m pointing it out. I’d also like to point out that it doesn’t just end with an optical drive. Yes, Toshiba added a little flourish by making this a DVD burner as well.

While I can’t remember the last time I used a CD or DVD in my computer, I am quite big on sticking other things into my laptop. It’s true, I love peripherals and I’m pleased to tell you that the R700 is well-endowed when it comes to ports. Yes, ports are important.

A USB on either side (nice, smart – I hate that both of my USB ports on my mac are on the same side – and right next to each other – who’s bright idea was that?) – which means that I can actually use both USB ports at the same time. There’s also a eSATA port (no idea what one does with it, except I see it also doubles as a third USB port – score!) an HDMI port which you could use for hooking up a HD monitor and a VGA adaptor as well, which I’m told is for old-school devices.

It has flashing lights. Yeah, that’s not really such a big deal – except I think the little light that pops on when you’re connected to Wi-Fi is pretty nifty. Aside from flashing lights, this machine has stamina. Battery life. It lasts and lasts and lasts. Longer than the Energiser bunny – it just goes and goes and goes. This is what makes it a worthwhile consideration if you spend a lot of your day outside of the office, and your computing needs extend above what a tablet can offer.

The screen resolution/picture quality is pretty superb – the first thing I did was watch a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother – even in full-screen, there’s no pixelation/distortion. The 13,3-inch matt screen has a resolution of 1366×768 and the  is viewable from most angles and in sunlight. Good enough for watching movies and series when you can’t get to your HD tv? Definitely.

It thinks fast. Programs open quickly. That’s the Core i5 processor doing some major work there.  There’s no sitting around, watching the hourglass, waiting for something to happen. Seconds after I’ve plugged in an external (like a mouse or a USB drive), it’s recognised and everything just works. (Look, I’m a total mac fan, but I’ve spent many a frustrated hour with my mac, trying to make it play nicely with something else.) It hooked up to my home Wi-Fi network, no hassles – something that’s very important to me –  if I can’t access the Internet in under a minute, I lose interest very quickly. All of my other devices on my home network could find the R700 without fuss as well. Which is great for media-sharing and print-sharing and the like.

The one bummer of it all for me is Windows. But that’s just because I’ve used nothing but a mac operating system for the last four years. The R700 comes bundled with Windows 7 Professional (32 bit) and, of course, this means Internet Explorer (shudder). But everything got a lot better once I’d downloaded Firefox. It took a while to get used to the Windows menu all over again, but it’s like riding a bicycle (apparently) and I managed it all with a minimum of whining.

In terms of other bells and whistles, there’s a webcam (uses for which are self-explanatory) and a fingerprint scanner, which I’d imagine is for security purposes – handy (hahaha) if you have a lot of confidential/top-secret information to protect, or if you want to feel a bit Bond-ish. There’s also new technology inside this little beast, as it makes use of a new thermal management system called Airflow Cooling Technology (Toshiba and Intel worked hand-in-hand to make this happen) that prevents your thighs from crisping and your laptop from overheating. Which means you can use your laptop on your lap, safely.

As for the other important specs, there’s a 320GB hard drive and 2GB RAM. While this might seem a bit stingy on the RAM side of things, the Core i5 processor was so speedy and efficient that I never even noticed the deficit.  Let’s think about it logically. If you’re a gamer you’re not going to be buying this laptop – gamers generally want more viewing real estate and require a dedicated graphics card with some ooomph. Chances are, you’ll be buying this because of it’s ultra-portability and the fact that such a small, light notebook is crammed with so much functionality – you’ll love this machine if you’re on the move a lot, and you have a variety of web-based tasks and assorted business admin that you need to complete, with some light multimedia entertainment thrown in to spice things up.

The only real quibble I had with this machine was the keyboard. My quibble stems (in part) from the fact that I have simply grown so used to my macbook keyboard, that using anything else just seems awkward. That, and the fact that using the keyboard is in fact awkward as some of the keys (like the @ key) are located in unfamiliar positions. The Return/Enter key is also a bit too skinny, which means that I landed up hitting other keys randomly. I do know that it is possible to get used to this keyboard layout, as I spent many a month using my mother’s Toshiba laptop in my pre-macbook days – so the keyboard needn’t be too much of a worry.

Long story short: this is a solid, dependable, utterly portable machine that will more than likely perform every single task you require of it extremely well. If you’re looking for longevity, functionality, durability and practicality, look no further.

Tickled my fancy:

  • Loads of ports and everything is plug-and-play
  • Muchos thinking power, efficient multi-tasking
  • Skinny, but utterly functional
  • Durable and lightweight

Made me shudder:

  • The lid attracts fingerprints like you wouldn’t believe
  • The keyboard feels awkward
  • Internet Explorer

Rating: 3.5/5

Wanna read a funny review? I wish I could write like this.

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One Response to On Reviewing the Toshiba Portege R700-15X: It’s Slim, Shiny and Super-Durable

  1. MeeA says:

    I don’t know if I’d go for a Toshiba ever again… I find their keys are sticky at the best of times and the last one we had pretty much lasted a year and then decided it had had enough, in spite of having been handled with the utmost care.

    I would be *thrilled* to have a new machine running *anything* but Vista, though. I think Microsoft ought to offer anyone who’s ever purchased anything with Vista on it a formal apology and a full refund!
    MeeA´s last blog post ..That Thing About the Road to Hell….

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