Although not the slimmest laptop, the Toshiba Portégé R500 (£1350 inc. VAT) is very light. Its great battery life and stylish design impress, and its features and warranty are the icing on the cake.
The chassis weighs just 1.1kg and is nearly as light as the new breed of mini-PCs. The main body is sturdy enough for regular travel use. The thin screen panel is very flexible. Strangely, this improves resilience, as it's less prone to cracking under pressure.
The high-quality keyboard spans the width of the chassis and provides comfortable all-day use. All keys respond well and are large enough for speed-typing. The touchpad is equally large and usable, but the small mouse buttons are oddly out of place.
The 12.1-inch screen uses transflective technology to improve visibility. The screen's backlighting can be easily disabled to make it easier to view in direct sunlight. The trade-off is that sharpness and colour aren't the best.
Although the battery is large, it slots neatly into the chassis. It provides outstanding mobility and runs for 325 minutes. This is bettered by the Sony, but considering the Toshiba's larger screen and more powerful specification, this is a great result.
Storage options are equally impressive. The 160GB hard drive doubles the capacity of many rivals. The built-in DVD rewriter supports all CD and DVD formats, including DVD-RAM.
Impressive software package
The drive is shock-mounted for protection in case the laptop is dropped. A water-resistant layer beneath the keyboard protects against spills, while a built-in fingerprint scanner lets you safeguard important files and folders.
This laptop uses an Ultra-Low Voltage Intel processor. This contributes to the strong battery life, but provides low performance. However, it provides enough power for most home and office use.
Key selling points of the R500 are its software and warranty. Both Windows XP and Vista are included, with XP pre-installed and Vista provided on a back-up recovery disc. The warranty covers you for three years and includes all delivery and parts and labour costs.
The combination of great mobility and a comfortable interface, as well as its comprehensive software and warranty, make the Portégé R500 easy to recommend. While cheaper rivals can be bought, this is still one of the best ultraportables around.