Not as thin and light as the R600, but far more powerful
In honor of the 25 years Toshiba has been making laptops—starting with the T1100 in 1985—Toshiba is dubbing its new R700 an “anniversary” system. The laptop is the newest addition to Toshiba’s venerable Portégé line of business ultraportables. It follows on the heels of last year’s R600, which received a 9/Kick Ass in our August 2009 issue, and the R500 before that.
But the R700 differs from those two models in some pretty significant ways—Toshiba says this represents a new direction that will be mimicked in all of its laptops going forward. For one thing, the R700 isn’t as wafer-thin as the R500/600, although it still sports a very slim profile at just a tad over one inch thick, and weighs a mere three pounds. The chassis is reinforced with an internal honeycomb design and features a magnesium-alloy top with an attractive anodized black finish. Even when held by one corner, the laptop feels sturdy and rigid.
The business-model R700 can be connected to an optional dock ($200) that offers two USB 3.0 ports along with all the laptop's other ports.
The extra room created by this new design, along with improved thermals, allows Toshiba to outfit the R700 with a full-power processor—versus the ultra-low-power CPU we found in the R600, or even the low-power proc in HP’s new 2540p (reviewed in October), which is our new zero-point ultraportable. Our R700’s Core i7-620M is clocked at 2.66GHz, with a Turbo Frequency of 3.33GHz, compared with the HP’s 2.13/2.93GHz i7-640LM, and that roughly 500MHz advantage is evident in almost all our content-creation benchmarks. Surprisingly, the two laptops were nearly dead even in the Premiere Pro test. Perhaps this has something to do with the R700’s 32-bit Win7 OS, vs. HP’s 64-bit OS. Toshiba offers 64-bit as an option, which we’d have preferred, if only for the fact that it would make all 4GB of RAM usable; here, only 3GB is available to the OS.
As for the R700’s huge performance lead in Photoshop, we gotta figure that’s the work of the laptop’s solid state drive. Perhaps even more important than an SSD’s faster access times compared to an HDD is the lack of moving parts. So while the R700’s 128GB might seem paltry compared with the capacity of a mechanical hard drive, the SSD’s speed and reliability count for a lot in a portable system.
If you like to upgrade, both the drive bay and the memory slots are easily accessed through panels on the bottom of the laptop. An ExpressCard slot makes mobile broadband possible, and one of the USB ports doubles as eSATA and provides Sleep-and-Charge functionality so you can use the port for powering or charging devices even when the laptop is powered off. A couple things we miss from the R600 are the transflective screen for outdoor use—something Toshiba ditched to cut costs—and the physical volume dial.
Nevertheless, the R700 continues the series’ tradition of excellence by combining a superb combination of ultraportability and business performance.
Toshiba Portégé R700
Slick styling; sturdy build; full-power processor; SSD provides data security.
Trade-off for SSD is limited storage; we miss the R600's volume dial.
2.66GHz Intel Core i7-620M
Toshiba 128GB SSD
Matshita DVD burner (UJ8-44S)
VGA, HDMI, Ethernet, three USB 2.0, one USB/eSATA, headphone, mic, 5-in-1 memory card reader, ExpressCard/54, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
2 lbs, 15.7 oz / 3 lbs, 11.02 oz
Toshiba Portege R700
Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)
Photoshop CS3 (sec)
ProShow Producer (sec)
Quake III (fps)
Quake 4 (fps)
Battery Life (min)
Our zero-point ultraportable is an HP EliteBook 2540p with a 2.13GHz Intel Core i7-640LM, 4GB of DDR3/1333 RAM, integrated graphics, a 250GB 5,400rpm hard drive, and Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.