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Toshiba Portege R700 - Connectivity, Usability and Screen
For a relatively compact machine the R700 packs in a massive amount of connectivity, possibly too much considering the way it's jammed in to every possible place. Highlights include the now traditional Toshiba Sleep & Charge USB port, which also doubles as an eSATA port, and the rather smartly integrated SD card reader.
Also included are two more ordinary USB 2.0 ports, VGA and HDMI for video, two audio jacks (1x headphone, 1x microphone), Gigabit Ethernet, and a 54mm ExpressCard slot. This last addition is rather awkwardly positioned below the optical drive, so much so you could easily overlook its presence. It's possible some devices will obstruct the optical disc tray as well.
One thing that's bound to divide opinion is the R700's keyboard. In many respects it's akin to the earliest isolation keyboards, as it features quite light, shallow key actions that don't offer the feedback we're used to. Given a little time we found we could generate a decent typing speed, but we can imagine many others taking an instant disliking to it. It doesn't help that the Spacebar, the most used key on any keyboard, suffers most and quickly developed a slight bend in the middle.
We had no complaints over the layout of the keyboard, however. In fact it's pretty much spot on our ideal layout, with large and unimpeded Shift keys, and cursor keys that are slightly withdrawn to avoid inadvertent presses. This certainly aids fast and accurate typing, but if you're at all sensitive about keyboard key actions the R700 is a try before you buy.
Considering the premium nature of the R700, the 1,366 x 768 resolution of the display is, perhaps, a little disappointing in light of the 1,600 x 900 available on some rival models. Nonetheless, there's plenty to like about the screen. Though its colour production and black quality is merely good enough, the viewing angles are excellent, it's very bright, and text is pleasingly sharp and readable. Unlike similar consumer laptops, such as the HP Pavilion dm4 and Samsung Q330, the R700's screen also has a non-reflective finish, though Toshiba has wisely ditched the largely useless transflective technology of previous models.
Predictably the speakers are nothing to write home about, indeed they're positively poor. It's not a particularly pressing issue, however. If you do ever decide to listen to music, or watch a film, then a set of headphones is all you need.
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