Another feature that remains more or less unchanged is the screen and it’s not for want of wishing it so. Though the transflective screen, which is designed to convert ambient light into viewable light for the screen, is a sound idea on paper, in practice it’s simply not very good. Turning off the backlight to make use of this feature shows you need to be in exceedingly bright conditions (i.e. outside with the sun on your back) for it to be at all useful; a situation few people find themselves in when working.
To add insult to injury, even with the backlight turned on the display on the R600 is pretty mediocre. Measuring 12.1in and sporting a native 1,280 x 800 resolution, it’s not as bright as other LED backlit screens, its colour production is dull and lifeless, there’s noticeable backlight bleed from both the top and bottom of the screen, and viewing angles are really quite poor.
In fact, even when looking straight on it can be a little awkward to find a screen angle that doesn’t result in some contrast loss at the extremities. Of course, to play devil’s advocate, this does mean it enhances privacy, but we’d sooner Toshiba dropped its transflective screen interest. A unique feature it might be, but there’s a good reason no other notebook manufacturer uses them and though it doesn’t render the R600 unusable, it’s a significant black mark against it.
When it comes to the basic feature set, however, the R600 can’t really be faulted. For connectivity you’ll find a VGA port, a combined eSATA and USB port (something we haven’t seen on any other ultra-portable) two more USB ports, Ethernet, a memory card reader and a 54mm ExpressCard slot. One could bemoan the lack of a digital video output, but it’s not as essential on an ultra-portable as it is on other machines and it’s nothing a DisplayLink USB monitor wouldn’t solve.
Inside things look just as good. This version, which retails for just under £1,700 inc. VAT, comes with the faster of Intel’s two ultra-low voltage processors, the dual-core 1.4GHz SU9400. It also sports 3GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM and a 128GB SSD, so Toshiba is clearly not skimping on important features. This is further evidenced by the inclusion of integrated HSDPA, though this addition does result in a slightly higher overall weight of 813 grams, compared to the 755 grams of the original.
Other key features include Gigabit Ethernet and Intel Draft-N Wi-Fi and as this is a vPro certified machine, it can be integrated into a company’s existing infrastructures quite easily. Another adjunct of this is the addition of a Trusted Platform Module that provides secure encryption and authentication of data, something the UK government could learn a little about!