Toshiba's Portégé R-Series has been running since 2004, the R700 we're reviewing today being the seventh iteration. This range has always been about producing the thinnest, lightest laptop possible for business users on the move. In recent memory the R500 and R600 both stuck to this brief strictly, sometimes too strictly. In the R700, however, it appears as if Toshiba might have learnt to stop chasing the headlines, and made a better laptop as a result.
Visually the R700 is quite a departure from previous models. Out is the slightly outdated-looking silver plastic; in is an extremely smart, black brushed metal finish to the lid and body. This instantly gives the R700 a credibility more befitting its target market, while enhancing the already slim (16.8mm to 25.7mm) and light (1.46kg) chassis. Reinforcing this about turn is the use of an isolation keyboard, the black keys of which merge seamlessly with their surroundings.
Dig a little deeper, however, and the DNA of the R500 and R600 is plain to see. Still present is the impossibly thin and somewhat flexible lid, while the arrangement of the fingerprint reader between the two touchpad buttons and the chromed hinges have been lifted straight from its predecessors. In other words, this isn't a wholly new machine, merely another evolution upon a theme.
Not, we must stress, that this is a bad thing, especially as more interesting developments have occurred under the hood. Whereas previous Portégés used slightly sluggish low-voltage processors, the R700 follows the Sony VAIO Z Series in using full-fat Intel Core i processors. Depending on the model you choose this could mean a Core i3, i5 or i7, but in the case of our mid-range review model (the R700-15U) it's a 2.26GHz Core i3. For most purposes this should more than suffice, though the 2GB of RAM of this model is a shade on the stingy side.
Graphics, predictably, are supplied by Intel's HD Graphics chip, which is low-power but doesn't have the stomach for any meaningful graphics action. This should suit the machine's business lifestyle, however, as will the 320GB hard drive and its free-fall protection.
Other business features include the aforementioned fingerprint reader, which is joined by a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) for secure authentication and encryption. Network connectivity includes both 802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth 2.1 is on-hand for all your mobile devices needs. Other models in the range also come with integrated 3G HSDPA modems. As this is a business machine you also get a generous three-year warranty, a fact that makes the £850 inc. VAT price look like good value for money.