The R830’s isolation keyboard certainly looks the part and offers a selection of well-spaced keys. Unfortunately, it’s still one of the weaker areas of Toshiba’s premium ultraportable. Though feedback is good as far as it goes, it’s shallower than Barbie; simply too shallow for long-term, confident typing comfort. Mind you, it’s perfectly usable, but we would hesitate to recommend this as anyone’s primary word-processing machine.
Thankfully we have no complaints whatsoever regarding the multi-touch trackpad. We never found it to interfere with typing, yet there’s still a dedicated de-activation button between it and the keyboard in case you need or want it. The pad itself is large and responsive, and features a pleasant matt finish that makes for smooth movements. Its distinct shiny buttons, meanwhile, are well-placed and offer a reassuring click.
We’re used to superlative audio from Toshiba portables. Even its NB550 netbook managed better sound than many larger laptops. Unfortunately, as is apparent from their lack of harmon/kardan branding, on the R830 its speakers were not a priority. They lack volume, clarity and bass, so headphones or external models are definitely recommended for any kind of serious entertainment.
A mediocre screen was less of a surprise, as this doesn’t tend to be a forte of the Japanese company’s laptops in general. The 13.3in display found here offers a standard resolution of 1,366 x 768. Viewing angles were slightly below-par, and after the Samsung Series 9 900X3A showing us how good laptop TN panels can be, it’s even more difficult to put up with. Contrast also wasn’t the best, with the R830 unable to distinguish between the darkest greyshades, meaning you may miss out on fine details in gloomy movies or games.
Colours also don’t come across quite as brightly as on a screen with a glossy finish, though to be honest this is a sacrifice we’re happy to make. Aside from loving its matt finish, we also like the screen’s backlighting, which was very even with only the merest hint of bleed in one of the corners. Excellent sharpness and a lack of artefacts, combined with the previous benefits, makes this a great display for work rather than play.
Above the screen resides a webcam which is not of the HD variety, a surprising omission when every other major manufacturer seems to be including 720p webcams on their high-end models.