Toshiba Portege R700—Inside and Out

The R700 is definitely a good looking computer. Most of the external surfaces are rendered in black brushed magnesium, and it’s a subtle but high quality look. The large, chrome Toshiba lettering on the back is sadly not that subtle, but it does accentuate the overall aesthetic, unlike the somewhat chintzy chrome hinges. The side profile is wedge shaped and very thin throughout—the thickest point is just over an inch and slopes down from there. The surfaces are smooth and continuous, while the sides are almost entirely covered in ports. It’s not a very adventurous design, but attractive nonetheless. The overall simplicity of the aesthetic combined with the effect of the textured metal makes the entire notebook look and feel more upscale than the Toshiba name would lead you to believe.

Build quality is a more concerning item, in that it’s not very good. Even with the magnesium internal structure and the aluminum honeycomb, there’s a lot of flex present throughout the chassis. It’s especially egregious on the bottom panel, just under the optical drive, but even the palm rest on that side has a fair amount of flex. The left side of the system (which carries the HDD/SSD) feels much more solid and exhibits less flex, but that doesn’t make up for the ridiculous flex around the optical drive. The lid is fairly thin, and like most other superthin laptops, it’s not the most sturdy feeling lid and shows rippling under pressure along with being fairly flexible.

The chiclet keyboard is another issue—the feel is somewhat vague, and there is a little bit of flex at times. The flex isn’t particularly concerning and isn’t really noticeable unless you’re looking for it, but the mushy feel is pretty off-putting. To be fair, I’ve been dealing with some pretty stellar keyboards lately, with the business-class HP EliteBook 8440w and the ASUS U33Jc (in my opinion, the gold standard for consumer-level keyboards), but the Toshi keyboard is shockingly mediocre for a $1600 notebook. It looks and feels like a slightly larger version of the NB205 keyboard, which I’m not a huge fan of to start with.

The touchpad is nothing special, though the dark chrome buttons are certainly an eyesore. I’m not sure why manufacturers continue to think that putting chrome in the most touched places on a notebook is a good idea—fingerprints, hello? It’s not just Toshiba; HP was terrible (chrome touchpads and buttons?) and ASUS does the chrome mouse buttons from time to time, mostly with their Eee PC netbooks. It’s simply a bad idea. Sorry guys. There’s a fingerprint reader located between the mouse buttons, which sometimes resulted in accidental swipes and such. I prefer having the fingerprint reader off to the side like Lenovo and HP do it, but I’m guessing Toshiba liked the aesthetic of having the scanner integrated into the touchpad assembly.

The R700 has a fairly good complement of ports, with two dedicated USBs and a USB/eSATA combo port, a VGA port, HDMI, Ethernet, an SD card reader, and an ExpressCard slot located under the optical drive. Nothing spectacular or groundbreaking, but a healthy assortment for sure. The speakers are pretty poor, but that’s about par for the course as far as ultraportables go. The webcam and mic work fairly well, enough for Skype conversations. The mic is located on the palmrest, so it can be covered by a hand if you’re not paying attention.

Toshiba Portege R700 - Introduction Toshiba Portege R700 - An Open Letter Regarding Bloatware
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  • FH123 - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - link

    Not so simple. I have a T410s. Yes, it's better in most regards, however the screen is actually worse. Yes, hard to believe though it is, notebookcheck.net have measured it at only 95:1 contrast and the vertical viewing angles are virtually non-existent. Does the T410 have a decent screen? Reply
  • seanleeforever - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - link

    yeap. the s is for slim, but you sacrifice the screen quality (not that they have good screen to begin with).
    bring back the IPS/AFFS flexview....while i appreciate my 400 nit outdoor IPS tablet, i can use a 15 inch with 1920*1200 resultion for my CAD work.
    Reply
  • Belard - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    To me, the normal notebook (business) viewing angle is fairly straight on. Having others in a meeting having easier screen access is not my desire. We can't have everything... perhaps in 10 years, we can have screens that switch to narrow and wide view angles :)

    Here is my ThinkPad screen experience:
    I'm typing this on my R61 (R500 replaced it - then the Ls replaced Rs).
    I'm fine with its low-res screen (1280x800), its brighter and more colorful than the T61.

    The SL-500 looks better than the T61.
    The T410s looked okay to me.
    The T410 looked better than the SL510.

    In general, Glossy screens - by their nature, have higher contrast over most matter screens for notebooks and even many desktop screens.

    Theres a give and take going on here. Like many years ago, Anandtech would give a NEG to a mobo review for having the DIMM slots next to the PCIe slot... but if that problem wasn't there, it meant one less PCIe slot. I posted/email... you can't have it both ways ;) Then they started pointing this out ;)

    So can Lenovo go with a much better LCD screen? Yes... if they are even being made. but at what costs?

    We live in a time in which Notebooks costs $300 and up with a 15" screen. Unlike 10+ years ago when a ThinkPad went for $3000~6000!

    ThinkPads would be DEAD without some sacrifice.

    A: Glossy notebook for $600 vs:
    B: ThinkPad for $2000, both with same CPU/hardware stats.

    Almost nobody will buy the ThinkPAD! Sell it for $600~1000, its marketable.

    I paid $500 for my R61, new. Next to it in a store, an IDEA-PAD for $600.
    Mine came with the PDC @1.6Ghz / 1GB / 40GB HD / WinXP-Pro.
    The IdeaPAD had a C2D @ 2.2Ghz / 3GB / 100GB HD / Vista-Home / Camera.

    I was going to spend $100 for XP Pro for the IdeaPAD... the matte screen and stronger body sold me on the ThinkPad. Even thou the IdeaPAD was a "better" deal in many ways.

    My 3 year old ThinkPad has been upgraded to 2GB and runs Windows7 like a champ... it runs better than it ever did with XP.

    Using a friends T410, I love it.

    But I wouldn't recommend ANY 15" Thinkpad to anyone anymore... they are EXTRA-Widescreen. So the 14" is just as tall, screen wise and about 1.5 lbs lighter. Yep, the T410(s) screens are just as tall as my 3-year old's 15" screen. Hate these wide-wide screens.
    Reply
  • I4U - Saturday, October 9, 2010 - link

    Dell proposed, some years ago, a display option to narrow the view angle. Reply
  • QChronoD - Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - link

    Would it be possible for you guys to have a separate page on the site that gives a condensed breakdown of the major specs for the different laptops/cpus/ssd/etc that you are always comparing against. (tech-report had one a few years ago that I was always going back to for cpu reviews) It's been years since I've been able to figure out WTF Intel and AMD model numbers really mean since they change them so frequently.
    Also it would help when looking at the benchmark numbers for systems so we can focus on those with the specs/price we are most interested in.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, September 9, 2010 - link

    I use the following two web pages ALL the time:

    http://products.amd.com/en-ca/NotebookCPUResult.as...
    http://ark.intel.com/Default.aspx

    Wikipedia also has a good list of CPUs and chipsets (and a ton of other stuff as well). I've considered trying to get some sort of setup where users can click on a result to get the full laptop specs; maybe we'll try to do that when we do Mobile Bench.
    Reply
  • BushLin - Thursday, September 9, 2010 - link

    "The result is a notebook that is reportedly both lighter and stiffer than the previous Portege R500 and R600 notebooks"

    Sorry to urinate in your soup but the R700 is considerably heavier (in ultra-portable terms) than both the R500 and R600 models. This isn't surprising since the R700 has a larger screen and less compromise on rigidity in order to save weight. I look after my laptops and sad to see the R600 is now unavailable and doesn't have a direct replacement. There are no sub 1KG (2.2lbs) models from Toshiba currently.
    Reply
  • Osamede - Thursday, September 9, 2010 - link

    When this Toshiba was announced a lot of people claimed it would be a Sony Z killer and I knew it wouldnt. Toshiba actually has the ultraportable heritage and pedigree but TODAY toshiba is no longer about making top notch products.

    Which is why they initiall fudged on the specs of the screen. I knew it would be a bottom-of-the-barrel 768p screen with low contrast - and so it is in the end.

    Why Toshiba would bother shouting about this laptop I dont know. Its actually heavier than the Sony Z and not as good all round, depsite having a lower res screen. Worse yet there are a million Acer and Acer models that provide better value and durability.

    A pointless product release. Toshiba should just quit this market and go home.
    Reply
  • gescom - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    Sony Z12 = unbeatable machine!
    Period.
    Reply
  • BrianTho2010 - Friday, September 10, 2010 - link

    Vivek,

    I can not stay for sure of the R700, but the R500 and R600 which have VERY similar designs have an all magnesium chassis. I would double check with Toshiba if in fact the R700 is using aluminum and not magnesium.

    -Brian
    Reply

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