A top-of-the-line ultraportable in lower-rent wrapping
In our August 2009 ultraportable notebook roundup we fell hard for Toshiba’s Portégé R600—the lightest, sleekest ultraportable notebook we’d ever tested. At $2,150, however, that notebook isn’t cheap.
This month we tested Toshiba’s more affordable ultraportable, the Portégé A605, to see how this consumer-class model compares with its fancier business-class kin.
In looks, the two machines are quite different. While the R600 wowed us with its silver, svelte stylishness, the A605 looks more commonplace. Inside and out, it’s adorned with that shiny black plastic you see everywhere these days, which looks really good… until you smudge it. Its keyboard, thankfully, has the same fingerprint-proof silver coating as the R600’s, and more importantly, sports the same full-size dimensions that make typing on it easy. The A605, which measures 11.3x8.8x1.2 inches, is close in size to the R600, just not as wafer-thin, and it’s a noticeable three-quarters of a pound heavier. Like the R600, the A605 offers a generous selection of ports and expandability options, including a USB/eSATA port (in addition to two standard USB ports), an ExpressCard slot, and an SD media reader.
One of the few features the A605 doesn't share with the elite Portégé R600 is a transflective screen. This one is still serviceable outdoors, however.
Inside, the R600 and A605 sport the same ultra-low-voltage 1.4GHz Intel Mobile Core 2 Duo proc, the same 3GB of DDR2/667 RAM, the same Intel GS45 chipset, and nearly the same DVD burner (the R600’s has a slimmer profile). Besides all that, the A605’s 320GB hard drive is double the capacity of the R600’s.
Not surprisingly, the two machines perform similarly, although the R600 did ever-so-slightly edge out the A605 in our benchmarks. Photoshop and ProShow are mostly CPU-bound, so it’s hard to explain the small gap in those scores. Perhaps the A605’s larger hard drive plays a part, or maybe extra baggage in Vista Home Premium (vs. Vista Business) is at fault. Other variables could explain why the A605’s battery pooped out just shy of four hours in our video rundown test while the R600’s lasted almost a half-hour longer.
Neither the R600 nor the A605 are the best-performing ultraportables we’ve tested. That honor goes to HP’s 2530p and Lenovo’s X200s (both also reviewed in August), which featured 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo procs. The R600 overcame this deficit with its near-weightlessness. The less-expensive A605 doesn’t have this special quality. It does, however, have respectable performance, a strong feature set, and a damn good price.
Toshiba Portege A605
Great price, loads of features, well-rounded capabilities.
Unimpressive fit and finish; middle-of-the-pack performance.
Toshiba Portégé A605
1.4GHz Intel Mobile Core 2 Duo SU9400
Hitachi 320GB 5,400rpm (HTS543232L9SA00)
Matshita DVD-RAM UJ862ES
12.1 inch, 1280x800
Ethernet, two USB 2.0, USB/eSATA, VGA, ExpressCard/5, SD
3 lbs, 2 oz / 3 lbs, 12.1 oz
Toshiba Portégé A605
Quake III Arena
Our zero-point ultraportable is a Toshiba Portégé R600 with a 1.4GHz Intel Mobile Core 2 Duo, 3GB of DDR2/667 RAM, integrated graphics, a 160GB 5,400rpm hard drive, and Windows Vista Business 32-bit.