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Toshiba Portégé R500 Hands-On Preview

If that weren't enough the 1280 x 800, 12.1in display will utilise a transflective LED backlight, which should provide superior display visibility in high light situations and direct sunlight. The use of an LED backlit screen should also help battery life, with Toshiba claiming seven hours with a 3-cell battery, and a very impressive 12.5 hours with a 6-cell battery. I'm willing to be bet these expansive figures are also with an SSD and no optical drive, but even so these are impressive claims and hopefully this is a good indication of what the future might bring; 24-hour battery life anyone? One can but dream.

But enough of this blathering, what is the R500 actually like? Although the R500 is undeniably stylish, it's in an understated kind of way. The majority of the chassis is finished in a high quality silver finish, while there's a matt black bezel surrounding the screen. To provide a little contrast the touch pad buttons are finished in glossy silver, with two small blue LED status lights which protrude from the front when the lid is closed.

On the left edge you'll find DC-in, D-Sub, two USB ports, i.Link Firewire, headphone and mic jacks, and at the very end an analogue volume wheel. On the right edge there is a card reader, wireless On/Off switch, another USB port and an Ethernet port. The samples on show lacked optical drives, but the drives will be on the right edge in the gap that is apparent from the pictures.

As Gordon previously reported the drives themselves will be the thinnest ever seen in a notebook, measuring a mere 7mm. Unsurprisingly the notebook overall isn't too thick, measuring 25.5mm at its largest point and a mere 19.5 at the thinnest. Very evident too was how thin the screen was, and it would be interesting to see how much pressure the back of the screen could tolerate.

During the presentation Ken Chan also outlined how the Toshiba had used a Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) machine, which test products for extreme temperatures, rapid temperature changes, vibrations and shocks in shorter time frame than traditional testing methods. This, he claimed, will ensure that the R500 will be as reliable as it is light and good looking. Of course this is a difficult claim to substantiate, but Toshiba's reputation does add a little more credence to such a claim.

As we're given to reminding you ad infinitum, the TR offices are full of ultra-portable fans. Recently Riyad looked at the simply sublime, Sony VAIO VGN-TZ11MN, and though Toshiba is targeting a more corporate space with the R500, that doesn't make it any less intriguing and exciting. It appears to have all the ingredients to make a powerful and convenient ultra-portable notebook, and as such could provide a fearsome landmark for competitors to match. With any luck we should have a review sample in next month, but until then you can sample the plethora of pictures on the following page.

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