Considering its reasonable price, one of the most impressive features of the R830 is its no-compromise internal specification, regardless of which model you go for. The R830-142 is the cheapest of the two, while our R830-143 review sample is the best available configuration.
The headline grabber here is Toshiba's choice of Intel's Core i5-2410M. This dual-core Sandy Bridge CPU runs at 2.3GHz (up to 2.9GHz Turbo-clocked) and supports hyper-threading for up to four virtual cores. It will handle anything you'd care to throw its way with consummate ease, especially as it's backed by a generous 6GB of DDR3 RAM.
Storage is also spacious as you get a 640GB hard drive – though it's of the 5,400rpm variety, rather than the faster 7,200rpm drives found in some rivals. The OS of choice here is a 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.
The only weak area of this Satellite is the R830-143's lack of dedicated graphics. While frugal on battery life and more than up to the task of HD video decoding, Intel's integrated 3000-series effort precludes gaming at anything more than a casual level. As an indication, at medium detail on 720p, the processor's graphics managed a smooth 52 frames per second in TrackMania Nations Forever, but at maximum detail, the native screen resolution and some antialiasing thrown in, things turned into a slide show, so even relatively undemanding 3D titles may be a struggle if you want them at their prettiest.The upside of this is that the R830-143 does well in the battery stakes. Its six-cell, 66Wh unit powered the laptop through our low-intensity productivity test for six hours and 39 minutes before giving up the ghost, so with wireless radios turned on you're still looking at six hours. Considering the power under the hood it's quite impressive, though it's a shame Toshiba doesn't offer an SSD model as this would not only increase its day-to-day performance but should eke out even more battery life.
When it comes to value and whether we would recommend this laptop, the R830-143 is not a straightforward proposition. It's light and offers good battery life. Its build quality and component-set are superb, and it doesn't look or feel like a machine that's available for a mere £730. On the other hand, the screen and keyboard do detract from its value, and it does get quite audible under load, though in normal use it only produces a slight hum.
Still, in Toshiba's favour is the fact that the R830 has very few direct competitors right now. Aside from little being able to match its lightness, HP's similarly-sized machines still use last-generation processors and offer less advanced connectivity, while Dell's 13.3in options in its consumer laptops are limited and relatively underpowered, with its closest candidate being the Vostro business line. Other alternatives, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, tend to be significantly more expensive.
Considering its affordable price, the magnesium-clad Toshiba Satellite R830-143 will make a great travelling companion for productivity-oriented individuals looking for a stylish and light 13.3in laptop that doesn't compromise on power or features. Only its mediocre screen and shallow keyboard preclude it from a wholehearted recommendation.