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7/10

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Toshiba Portégé R500-10U Ultra-Portable Notebook

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.
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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
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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.
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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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