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Toshiba Portégé R500 Hands-On Preview

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You may remember Gordon writing about the new Toshiba Portégé R500, the super slim ultra-portable which, among other things, features the world's slimmest optical drive. Today I had the chance to see the new chassis at an event dedicated to the R500 and the Toshiba Transatlantic Challenge, where explorer and all round daredevil David Hemplemen Adams will be attempting to cross the Atlantic in the smallest balloon ever.

He’ll be using the R500 on his trip, but I’m not ashamed to admit that the notebook was my primary point of interest. The R500 is the successor to the R200, which was released two years ago to much acclaim. Having seen the R500, it looks as though Toshiba is about to repeat the trick.
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Understandably, Toshiba execs seemed bullish about the R500 with Product Marketing Manager, Ken Chan, insisting that it would price the R500 range very competitively, adding that Toshiba doesn't want it to be niche product that would only be accessible to well healed directors.

The first batch of R500's will start coming on sale in July, and will start from £1,099 exc. VAT – which would by my calculations be £1,291.33 inc. VAT. Base systems begin with a Intel Core 2 Duo U7600, which has a 1.20GHz clock speed, 2MB L2 Cache and 533MHz FSB; meanwhile there will be options for hard drives up to 160GB and, in August this year, 64GB Solid State Hard Disks from Sandisk – check out our review of Samsung's 32GB SSD for more on the benefits of the technology. System memory will be DRR2 clocked at 667MHz and though 1GB will be the minimum there's no word on the maximum possible.
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The whole range is based upon the 945GMS chipset, which unfortunately means no Turbo Memory (Robson) support but there will be support for Draft N wireless, Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, Gigabit Ethernet. Ken Chan also revealed that there will be an embedded HSDPA equipped model out in Q4; pricing for this has yet to be announced.

One of the main selling points of the R500 is its extraordinary weight which, according to Toshiba, will make it the lightest 12.1in, two spindle (hard drive and optical drive) notebook in the world. With a standard hard drive, optical drive and a 6-cell battery, the machine will weigh 979 grams while without an optical drive, a 3-cell battery and an SSD that will go down to an incredible 779 grams. Indeed, to illustrate this lightness, the jovial chaps at Toshiba had an R500 suspended in the air using Helium balloons.

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