Although desktop replacement notebooks are becoming more powerful by the day, there is still a market for something very small and very light. With the Centrino/Pentium M platform, it’s easier to make an ultra-portable notebook than it has ever been and Toshiba has capitalised on this with the Portégé R100. With this model Toshiba has really gone the extra mile to offer the lightest, slimmest and most portable machine ever.
It might not be the fastest machine around, nor does it have the most advanced graphics so you won’t be playing too many games on it, but it does offers hours and hours of battery life, a great keyboard and so much more. With a notebook this small a good keyboard is crucial or it becomes a very stylish paperweight and Toshiba couldn’t have done a much better job. All the commonly used keys are where you expect to find them, including the Ctrl key that is very often moved on laptop keyboards. The keyboard is very comfortable to type on, even for extended periods of time and the travel on the keys is amazing for something this small.
The touchpad is a different matter, sadly this is not as good as the keyboard, but it’s not terrible for its size. The main problem is with the buttons as they are unresponsive and somewhat hard to click.
In terms of connectivity options Toshiba has done a remarkable job squeezing in both 802.11b WiFi, 10/100Mbit wired Ethernet and a 56k V.90 modem. There are also two USB 2.0 ports, a D-SUB for use with an external monitor or projector, a single Type II PC Card slot and a slot for SD/MMC memory cards. There is also integrated sound and connectors for both headphones and microphone.
The 12.1in TFT screen might not be the most impressive display around with a native resolution of 1,024 x 768, but it’s more than adequate on an ultra-portable machine. The choice of graphics chipset is somewhat perplexing though as Toshiba has chosen a Trident XP4m32 LP chipset with 32MB of memory. This is a 3D capable chipset, but it doesn’t come close to the likes of ATi and nVidia in terms of performance. But then again, as I already mentioned, this isn’t really a gaming notebook. The graphics chipset will provide enough grunt for everyday applications and it’s also capable of driving an external monitor or projector without breaking a sweat even at higher resolutions.
The 1GHz Pentium M processor may seem slow on paper, but again, for the kind of tasks that the Portégé R100 is likely to perform it’s fine. It would have been preferable to see some more memory fitted though, as the R100 only ships with 256MB as standard. It can be upgraded to 1.25GB if necessary and there is a spare memory slot that’s accessible through a small hatch in the bottom of the laptop. I do however feel that at the asking price it should really be shipping with 512MB as standard. That said an extra 256MB won’t break the bank at £30.54 from Crucial. However, buying the same amount of memory from Toshiba would set you back just over £81, which is more than twice the amount that Crucial is charging.