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Toshiba Portege R500 review

Putting the ultra back into ultraportable

No corners have been cut in a bid to make this laptop one of the thinnest and lightest available

Our Verdict

A thin and light laptop with an excellent battery life and a great screen


  • Very light and slim

    Great battery life

    Great features for the price


  • No digital display connections

Toshiba's Portégé brand is known for its strength, reliability and portability for the business user, but many of the machines lack the style associated with Sony's VAIO range. Not so the Portégé R500 (£1,291 inc. VAT), a stunning ultraportable weighing in at just 1.1kg.

No corners have been cut in a bid to make this laptop one of the thinnest and lightest available, and the 12.1-inch display is a mere 5mm deep. However, the rear of the casing is made from very thin aluminium, and there's virtually no protection for the screen. Thankfully, its highly flexible nature means it's unlikely to break in transit.

The panel sets the Toshiba apart from rivals by virtue of its transflective technology. Unlike regular screens - which can be tricky to see in direct sunlight, the R500's display absorbs sunlight in order to produce bright and visible images.

It's not the most vibrant of panels, but it's ideal for use on the train or outdoors. Because the LED backlighting is only required in dark conditions, battery life also benefits. Under test, we managed to get 375 minutes from a single charge.

A battery life this impressive hasn't been achieved simply by the screen technology, and Toshiba has used the most efficient components available. The graphics card is integrated, which is fine for carrying out everyday tasks. Applications such as Microsoft Word ran without trouble, and you'll be able to watch movies on the go.

Core 2 Duo

The Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 processor is a ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) chip. Because it's dual-core, you'll be able to carry out more than one task at the same time, and 1024MB of memory helps applications to run smoothly.

The keyboard spans the full width of the machine, with full-sized, comfortable keys in place. The edges of the board do flex slightly, but the keys are firmly attached. The touchpad is large and responsive, and a fingerprint scanner is included.

Despite the size, there are plenty of features on offer, including a slimline DVD rewriter. Unlike most ultraportables, you'll also find three USB 2.0 ports, situated far enough apart to use them all simultaneously. A VGA-out port allows analogue connections to an external display, but there's no support for digital connections.

Thanks to its light weight, excellent screen and outstanding battery life, the Portégé R500 is a machine you can use everywhere. It's also great value for money.