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Toshiba Portégé R500-10U Ultra-Portable Notebook - Toshiba Portégé R500
Also Toshiba has chosen not to give the screen on the R500 a high contrast glossy coating, which means that colours look nowhere near as vibrant or rich as on the Sony VAIO TZ12VN. That said, the R500 is pitched more at the business user, where the glossy screen could be viewed as less desirable, especially if you're sitting in an office flooded with ambient light sources.
The viewing angle of the screen also leaves much to be desired, with a noticeable drop off in brightness, and definite colour shift visible when viewed at anything other than dead centre on the horizontal plane. If you happen to be off centre on the vertical plane though, the screen becomes almost unreadable, with the light bleed problem amplified ten fold.
The screen itself is a 12.1in widescreen affair with a 1,280 x 800 resolution, so anyone who finds the Sony TZ12VN's 11.1 screen slightly too small, may well prefer the larger physical size and lower resolution of the R500.
Another vitally important part of a notebook is the keyboard, and here again, the R500 doesn't quite deliver. The keyboard definitely looks the part, finished in a very similar matte silver to the chassis, and there's even a decent amount of travel to the keys and a solid break to spring your finger back into position. However, there is an excessive amount of flex present, and the keyboard literally rattles when typing. It's the right side of the keyboard that rattles, and it sounds like it's simply not mounted properly, since there is no rattling from the left side. In fact, the whole right side of the keyboard flexes when you press a key there, while the left feels considerably more solid, though still flexy.
On the plus side, Toshiba has got the layout of the keyboard mostly right. For a start, the Ctrl key is located at the bottom left of the keyboard, where it should be - this makes it easy for anyone who uses a lot of keyboard shortcuts. There's also a light set into the Caps Lock key, making it very easy to see when it's active - other notebook manufacturers should take note of that one. Also, the cursor keys are dropped away from the main keyboard to make it easy to access them - although this is offset by the fact that the Page Up and Down keys sit one on top of the other, directly below Return, which is slightly odd.
Below the Spacebar is a large touchpad with a widescreen aspect ratio to match the screen. The touchpad is very responsive and makes for fast and accurate pointer manipulation, it also has a very tactile feel to it. As is usually the case these days, the far right side of the touchpad can be used for scrolling vertically through documents, while the bottom edge can be used to scroll horizontally.