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Toshiba Portégé R500-10U Ultra-Portable Notebook review



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Sony's iconic VAIO X505VP notebook remains one of the most special mobile computers I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. Not only was this machine ridiculously thin, but it was also unbelievably light, weighing in at a feather like 822g. Of course the X505VP was also light on features, and didn't even have an Ethernet port built into its svelte chassis. Sony never produced another machine like the X505VP, and I had fully expected it to go down in history as the lightest notebook ever produced. However, Toshiba wasn't going to allow that to happen.

The Toshiba Portégé R500 is a notebook that's so light, it would make a size zero model look obese. I can't begin to describe to you how surreal it is when you pick this machine up - your muscles instinctively gear themselves up to lift, and then realise that this thing weighs nowhere near as much as they were expecting. Put plainly, you'd be hard pushed to find a paper pad and pen that weigh much less than the R500. Toshiba rates this particular version of the R500 at 780g, but the TrustedReviews scales revealed that it's even lighter than that, weighing it in at a truly stupendous 755g

You'll have to forgive me if I spend a lot of time rambling on about how light the R500 is, because even a jaded old technology hack like me can't fail to be impressed by what Toshiba has done with this notebook. In fact, when I first picked this review sample up, I was worried that the PR company had sent me a mock-up rather than a fully working machine. But when I pressed the power button it booted straight into Vista.

There's no denying that the R500 looks pretty cool as well, finished in matte silver with mirrored highlights. The Toshiba logo on the lid has a mirror finish, much like the VAIO logo that you'll see on Sony ultra-portable machines. The lid is also wafer thin, and that's in no way an exaggeration. Of course Toshiba has achieved this super svelte lid by employing an LCD screen with an LED backlight, much like those seen in the Sony TZ series and the TX series before it.

But when it comes to LED backlight screens, Sony has had generations of T series machines to perfect the technology, with the current TZ machines sporting stunningly good displays. Unfortunately the R500 suffers from one of the problems seen in the early Sony T series machines - excessive light bleed. Basically, there is significant white light seeping out of the very top and very bottom of the screen, which tends to wash out the colours in these areas. Also, if you're looking at a dark image, the uneven lighting can be very distracting indeed.

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March 18, 2009, 10:21 pm

I purchased this laptop with 2G memory and 160G hard drive. I have been hugely disappointed, it take more than 5 mins to boot, it does not shut down (I leave the battery to run down), gets very hot and there is virtually no battery life (40 mins is about it). Subjectively it is very flimsy and the screen is really poor (especially viewing angle) and as far as viewing outside with the backlighting off - it is a joke - its sort of all over grey without contrast. The screen seems especially flimsy but that is where the Kensington lock is located and that is a disaster waiting to happen by ripping the screen off I have re-installed Vista several time with no change and it will not recover to XP even though a disk is provided. Vista installation is very irritating with allsorts of nag messages the bloat-ware is ridiculous when I first got it seems the OS was using 50 GB. It is actually unusable because it is so slow and I get memory resource problems all the time - can have only one or two application open at the same time before it crashes. I would avoid this laptop at all costs - it may be light but my Asus PC eee 701 is a better PC in every respect (much much faster and more solidly built).

I like the reviews on this site and other reviewed products match my experience, but in this case it is as if its an entirely different product.

H Miah

June 29, 2010, 4:21 pm

We have had 4 of these for staff. All 4 had optical drive failures.

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