Toshiba Portege R700—Introduction

Toshiba Computer released Japan’s first notebook computer in 1985, instantly cementing Toshiba as one of the pioneers of mobile computing. Since then, Toshiba has consistently been amongst the sales leaders of consumer notebooks in the US. But for all their mainstream success, in recent times Toshiba has not had any particularly compelling designs out there. There’s a lot of systems in the same vein as the A505 we tested earlier this year—vanilla mainstream notebooks that offer a lot of glossy black plastic to go along with a good amount of value, but no really compelling portable systems like the Portege R100 or R400 tablet from the past. Until now, with the introduction of the new Portege R700 and R705.

The R700 is Toshiba's latest ultraportable, and on paper, it's very impressive. It uses regular voltage Core i3, i5, and i7 processors and manages to stuff an optical drive into a 3.2lb, 1" thick enclosure. The casing is all done in brushed aluminum, and the internal structure uses a magnesium alloy and features an aluminum honeycomb to dissipate heat. The result is a notebook that is reportedly both lighter and stiffer than the previous Portege R500 and R600 notebooks. Unfortunately, like most other non-ASUS ultraportables, the R700 uses the onboard Intel HD graphics instead of going for a discrete graphics card, but given the 1” thin, 3lb form factor, it’s an understandable concession to make.

Toshiba Portege R700-S1330 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-620M
(2.66GHz, 32nm, 4MB L3, 35W)
Chipset Intel QM57 Express
Memory 2x2048MB DDR3-1333
Max 2x4GB DDR3-1333
Graphics Intel HD Graphics (64MB—1696MB shared memory)
Display 13.3" LED Backlit Matte WXGA (1366x768)
Hard Drive 2.5" 320GB 7200RPM SATA (Seagate ST9320423AS)
Networking Intel 82577LM PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6200 802.11a/b/g/n
Audio Realtek AL269 2-Channel HD Audio
(2.0 Speakers with headphone/microphone jacks)
Battery 6-cell Lithium-ion, 5800 mAh, 10.8V, 66 Wh
Front Side None
Left Side AC Power Connection
VGA Port
1 x USB 2.0
eSATA/USB Combo Port
HDMI port
Right Side 5-in-1 memory card reader
Integrated DVD SuperMulti Drive
ExpressCard slot
Headphone jack
1 x USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Kensington Lock
Back Side None
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Dimensions 12.44" x 8.94" x 0.66-1.01" (WxDxH)
Weight 3.0lbs (SSD), 3.2lbs (hard drive)
Extras Bluetooth 2.1
Integrated webcam and microphone
Warranty 1-year battery warranty
Pricing Portege R700-S1330 from $1489 at ProVantage

The R700 starts at $999, but our $1599 R700-S1330 test unit features top of the line components—the 2.67 GHz Core i7-620M, a 128GB SSD, and 4GB memory. For a 3.0lb machine with eight hours of battery life on tap, that’s a lot of power. The "little brother" Portege R705 is a really interesting configuration though. It shares the same chassis as the R700 (with a blue-painted lid), but has a Core i3-350M, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and trades the ExpressCard slot and docking capabilities for Intel’s WiDi built in. For a price of $829, that’s pretty awesome, especially when you take into account the completely aluminum chassis and 3.2lb carrying weight (R700/705 models with hard drives weigh slightly more than the 3lb SSD test unit we have). So on paper, the R700 finally brings something special to Toshiba’s otherwise-ordinary lineup, but does that impression hold up in person?

Toshiba Portege R700 - Inside and Out
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  • bertomatic - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    While i agree I hate bloat/crap ware, and always do a "clean install".

    I'd like to see before and after results of all tests of this system, one "out-of-the-box" and one with a "clean install"

    Thank you...
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    I agree. Even if you don't run the full test suite, I'd love to see benchmarks from both out of the box and after a clean install. If all the big review sites would do this, maybe the manufacturers would get the hint when they see public benchmarks showing their system runs like crap with all the bloat-ware.
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    I too agree that Toshiba has a talent for loading their laptops with bloatware. Just in case you're looking Toshiba. This is not a compliment.

    With the above said. I myself own a Toshiba. An inexpensive $399 model from newegg. This laptop as usual came with loads of crapware. However, I knew this going in, and what I could do about it. Since Toshiba is very good about providing drivers for most, if not all of their laptops. It was nearly a joy to wipe the HDD clean ( I actually bought a bigger HDD ), and retrograde from Vista HP, to WinXP Pro. Not one driver was missing. Although, some of the utilities such as the auto sense application that detects when an external mouse is plugged would not work. Big deal . . . manual touchpad disable is easy enough.

    Now I am currently running Windows 7 Ultimate x64, and guess what. Not a single missing driver. Three distinct versions of Windows, and Toshiba has them all covered. For someone who knows how to use a system, truly. This is a serious major factor when dealing with a name brand. Here, I think they deserve a lot of credit.

    So, perhaps it is not the speediest laptop, with all the latest gadgets a computer geek may/may not ever use. But at least Toshiba gave those of us who know how to deal with a bloated install an option. As it stands. For the money, it is every bit worth the cost, and more.

    Longevity . . . well that remains to be seen. So far though, I am working on 2 years, and the only real issue I have is: Once in a while the fan port gets a bit of dust in it, and the laptop will lockup from heat. That is, about once every 3-4 months. A simple shutdown, followed by flipping it over, and blowing the fan port out with compressed air fixes the problem. Of course, before blowing it out, you will want to use something to keep the fan from spinning, so it doesn't burn out.This is less than ideal, but you get what you pay for, and this is something I am personally willing to deal with.

    Of course, I treat my laptop with respect, and do not toss it around. In return, I expect that it will last every bit of 4-5 years.
  • Aloonatic - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - link

    No one likes the "bloatware"but doesn't it play a part in making the hardware (and software that you actually want, the OS at least) more affordable?

    It's a hassle to get rid of, but if it means that the machine is cheaper, then can we really complain too much? It's not like Toshiba are the only people who do it. Every machine that I have bought has had a fair bit on.
  • mfenn - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Vivek, it seems like you've really found your voice with this article. Keep it up!
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    any possibility to get a Lenovo X201 and do a review?
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    by the way. there is no mention of the venting hole on the bottom? i know this is subjective, but i know a handful of people, including myself, would not consider any portable computer with vent on the bottom, you can easily cover the vent with your leg or some soft surface and overheat the system. this is, IMHO, a huge design flaw.
  • Jarp Habib - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Sony's VAIO Z has manually switchable graphics only. Better than ALWAYS ON ALL THE TIME but it's not Optimus. There's been some work hacking together Optimus drivers for the VAIO laptops, but it's certainly not official.
  • saqqy - Tuesday, September 7, 2010 - link

    Those are comparable laptops with Core i3/i5 also starting around 3.2 lbs for an 11.6"
  • Roland00 - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - link

    The 11.6 Timeline X models use ULV processors (18w TDP) while the 13 inch models use standard 35w processors. The fastest 11.6 inch Timeline X uses the i5 430um which runs at 1.2 ghz and 1.73 with turbo boost. The 13 inch Timeline X use the standard 35w parts, the 35w i5 430m runs at 2.26 ghz and 2.53 with turbo boost (a difference of 46% to 88% in clock speed).

    Now you don't always need the clock speed difference, I love my predecessor I have an 1810 (the predecessor of the current 11.6 inch timelines) which is based off an 1.2 ghz core 2 duo based processor. The form factor, battery life, price ($350 at time of purchase) were everything I wanted; and it is fast enough for school work, internet, travel, and amazingly WoW when you turn down the settings.

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