back to article Toshiba Portégé R500 slimline laptop

Take this boy out of the box and the first thing you’re going to say — we guarantee it — is “strewth, that’s light”. We did. After years of carrying around small notebooks that were still big in weight, picking up this featherlight laptop was a real surprise. OK, something as small as, say, the Asus Eee you expect not to weigh …


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  1. simon
    Thumb Down

    Why the EEPC ?

    the eeepc is a different machine for a diferent purpose, aimed at a different market.... surely it should be compared to similar priced machines , aimed at the "luxury" laptop market ?

  2. Ruud Noorhoff
    Jobs Horns


    It's more than twice as fat as the MacBook Air. Its almost as fat as a MacBook Pro!:p

  3. Giles Jones Gold badge

    There's the thing...

    It's more functional than a Macbook air, but it is like a hair dryer, your words not mine.

    Apple compromised on feature set to get their laptop small, but they didn't compromise on the chipset. They actually got Intel to shrink their Core 2 CPU for them so it would run cool.

    Apple may be using Intel, but their parts aren't exactly off the shelf like pretty much everyone else. This is why the Macbook air will run cooler and not drive you mad with whirring fans.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beware the charger

    I own a portege 500 and the review is accurate and i'm very happy with it. However the charger is the usual low quality black plastic monstrosity that is the standard with PC Laptops. The charger and cables add significantly to the bulk and they are not cheap either. Apple sorted out a good looking ergonomic portable charger 4 years ago. Is it so hard to copy?

  5. Paul van der Lingen
    Jobs Halo


    I'm curious - why do people compare the Air with PC's like this.

    As a Mac user, the issue for me, with this Tosh is not the hardware but the OS that'll run on it.

    I know, I know, the windows faithful (most of you) and the insane (step forward Webster) will rail against me for that, but *shrug* it's not apples for apples.

    for me, OS X is better. For 96% of you, it's not - windows is. So be it.

    But don't compare the hardware when it's actually the OS that matters.

  6. Steve Evans
    Jobs Horns

    @Paul van der Lingen

    I think you'll find that the hardware does matter.

    Apple have a nasty habit of sacrificing things purely to get "a look". Throwing things like the ethernet out because it would "compromise the lines man", is just daft.

    IIRC wasn't there an Apple box that had all it's air vents on the top so not only could you spill a drink straight into the guts, but putting a folder on the top of the case was enough to cook it!

    What next week, the Apple Blanco ultra-mobile, even lighter than the Air, but to keep the weight down it has no display?

    And no I'm not a windoze fanatic, even my laptop (a chunky R52 thinkpad) is dual-booted with linux. Why dual? For practicality and flexibility, words missing from the book of Jobs.

    I file Apple along with the X-factor and all that kind of thing, it's all about image and very little to do with depth/substance/longevity. Who else would come up with a circular mouse, and consumer electronics with a non-user swappable battery.

    Damn, now look, you've got me started on the iPhone!

  7. Nick Fisher

    Apples and Oranges

    I agree with Paul - if it doesn't run OS X it's of no use to me. Windows is an irrelevance as far as I'm concerned.

  8. Tom


    'That otherwise wouldn't have FIT'

    Not fitted....

  9. Mark
    Jobs Horns

    re:Apples and Oranges

    Ironic, as OSX is of no use to most people...

  10. Reto Egeter

    No DVI-I, no buy

    All my devices speak DVI

  11. LPF
    Thumb Up

    @Steve Evans


    you are showing the classic problem with the PC elite. Its no point having a wizz bang note book with all the features, if its so hard to use that no one touches them.

    The reason the Apple does so good is becuase it makes its features usuable. Yes they do make mistakes, but without apple, we would still be using beige PC's with windows 3.0!

  12. Mad Hacker

    Why it is fair to compare hardware only...

    Most people don't get to choose their OS, they use the one their company saddles them with.

    Many Macs these days are running Windows in either dual boot mode or with a VM.

    If you are simply playing a DVD the OS doesn't matter.

    If you wanted to capture video via FireWire, the MacBook Air isn't even an option, so hardware does sometimes matter over the OS.

    My real problems are: This laptop although light, seems closer in size to a regular MacBook. The battery time (7 hours) sounds like something you could sue over as you got at best 50% of that.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @ Nick Fisher

    "I agree with Paul - if it doesn't run OS X it's of no use to me. Windows is an irrelevance as far as I'm concerned."

    Then why the hell are you reading and posting comments on a review of a Windows laptop?

    Instead of wasting your precious time here shouldn't you be building a website for your cat? (Or something equally Apple-like?)

  14. Jason Harvey
    Thumb Down

    most obnoxious feature: PC Card slot

    it's tucked UNDER the optical drive. better keep to those flat cards. any cards that have double hight connectors on them instead of dongles will block the cd drive from opening.

    need another cd... dammit... I can't open the drive without removing the card first!

    somehow I think they were trying to cram features instead of looking for the best place to put stuff.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    No cookies for the proof-reader!

    "It could give the screen the ability to absorb knocks and bumps that more rigid lids would send straight to the screen, with shattering effect."

    I think maybe you want:


    in there :)

  16. IR

    Comparisons to the EEE

    What's the point? They are completely different. Why is EVERY new laptop compared to it, despite being in a completely different category?

    I don't expect hiking shoes to be compared to Crocs, and a reviewer should have the sense not to make silly comparisons.

  17. jubtastic1

    I'm reminded of this

    comment on Japanese industrial design vs Apple industrial design.

    As night follows day, broken follows flimsy.

  18. Ruud Noorhoff
    Jobs Horns


    Where is the parallel port? Useless!

  19. Wolf Clostermann

    ... vs U30011v

    My Portege 7020 is dying, and to replace it I recently plumped for the U300-11v after dismissing the current Portege out of hand due to price. I'm pleased to see I made absolutely the right choice. My machine has the better processor, the same screen resolution and cost almost exactly half the price. After reading this review it appears I didn't even miss out on build quality (which is what I was worried about most) or battery life. The only thing this has over my machine is weight.

    My recommendation to any potential purchasers would be to take the same route. Unless you /really/ need that PCMCIA slot (mine only has expresscard).

  20. Herby

    List of options??

    Well, where is the BluRay DVD burner???

  21. frankgobbo

    Portege vs Air

    I currently own/use a Toshiba Portege R100, a predecessor of the R500. When I heard a few months ago the R500 was on its way, I was really looking forward to it, and planned on replacing my now ailing R100 with it (it is, after all, over 4 years old now and has traveled the world many times). I've been exceptionally happy with the R100, the build quality was fantastic and it's never set a foot wrong - and I was hoping the same of the R500

    When the Macbook came out I decided that I probably would've bought one if it was thinner and lighter. When the Air came out, I decided that I will buy one, with the SSD (due to favorable taxation in Australia, I can salary sacrifice a laptop purchase then claim the rest as a tax expense. In other words, the laptop is (ultimately) free, so price is no object).R

    Replacing the R100 with an Air isn't that hard a stretch, though. For all its ports and slots, I never swap its battery, I never use its ethernet port, I never have more than 1 USB device connected at once (and very very rarely even have one), and I like the idea of a posix based operating system. The Air wins for me, and will be my next purchase.

    My ONLY hesitation with buying the Air is the lack of a Kensington lock port. In my opinion, Apple's biggest mistake.

  22. Julian

    What is it with optical drives in laptops?

    I just don't get it. Why do so many reviews (including this one) seem to give plus points to laptops that incorporate an optical drive? For my pattern of usage an integrated optical drive is a negative point and, in my view, a bad design decision.

    How often, especially in today's world of 8GB USB drives, do you actually use your optical drive on the road? If you really have software that needs a CD/DVD inserted to run then use something like Farstone's VirtualDrive (and also shame on whatever software vendor wrote the app that needs the CD/DVD in the first place).

    I really don't want to cart about 200cc of dead space around the world with me for a feature that I might use once a year and even then I'll probably be with someone with access to a DVD drive who can copy whatever I want onto a USB stick so actually it's dead space for a feature I'll never use.

    - Julian

  23. TP

    the best ultraportable


    I think the best option, if you can, is to have a Mac and a Windows machine. Two weeks ago I replaced my HP tx1270 with exactly this model, the R500-11Z, and I think this is definitely the best Windows ultraportable available at the moment. Less than 1 kg and no defects. Well, actually the headphone jack doesn't work, but I plan to get it fixed. Cheers,

    Luigi (Barcelona)

  24. MaXimaN
    Thumb Down

    VAIO TZ-11 anyone?

    I took delivery of a R500 not so long ago, and was mortified by the poor build quality. The plastic is extremely thin and the machine gets VERY hot under load, especially under the left palm rest. The keyboard felt especially weak and the mouse buttons were ridiculously unresponsive. It also has by far the worst screen on a notebook in a long time. The backlighting was very uneven with highly noticeable bleed-through along the left and bottom edges, which made full-screen video viewing pretty nasty. Needless to say I sent it right back. How this machine achieved 85% in a review is anyone's guess, especially considering the price tag.

    I got a Sony VAIO TZ-11 straight after that and never looked back. It may be a 100g or so "heavier" but at the same price (for the MN model) it's substantially better made and is much much nicer to use - not to mention sturdier!

  25. Scott Mckenzie


    We have one here that was a replacement for a stolen unit, sure it's light but it's not well made at all - the review makes reference to the hinge, on our unit you cannot open the screen without the laptop tipping up on it's feet, this is fixed by the docking station mind.

    However, for me the biggest issue is the performance of it, i know it has a ULV processor in it, but seriously it should be an ultra low performance, if you open Outlook, IE and a couple of a Excel spreadsheets you can comfortably make a coffee for the entire office in the time it takes to switch between apps.... it's great for an ultra mobile unit if you only work on one or two smallish things at once, once you try and multi task, forget it.

    If i were after a small unit the Sony Vaio ones are an improvement, but likewise i'm very impressed with the spec of the Air, it's processor is a genuine performance processor, capable of running many tasks - combine that with a relatively bloatware free OS and i can see why the Air would be the machine of choice.... the only irritant i have with the Air's spec is the ethernet port, but hey it's aimed at wireless users and you'll get a quicker speed from an 802.11n network than the USB attached NIC, so for the money buy the wireless router and be done.... as for the optical drive in the last 6 months the only time i've used mine was to copy CD's to iTunes - hardly a reason to have a drive permanently attached!

    If i were buying an ultraportable, i wouldn't get another R500.... personally i'd get an Air, but most of the staff in my office can't use OS X so i'd need to look elsewhere, and that i would, probably at the Sony mentioned above.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shove-it-in-a-backpack-and-go exactly what I've been doing with my r500 (SSD model, no optical drive) since I received it last September. The casing may be cheap plastic, and it may feel fragile, but this is a fairly tough (not rugged!) laptop. The light weight and the flex of the casing provide more than adequate protection against the daily dropping/throwing/banging around that laptops endure.

    I've been very pleased with the r500. The performance is good (running Debian with a custom 2.6.24 kernel). The bleed from the LCD backlight is annoying at first, but I no longer notice -- and if it is the price of the transreflective display, which has allowed me to use the laptop comfortably on planes with direct sunlight onto the screen, then I'm more than willing to overlook it. Then of course there is the weight: this is a bring-anywhere, always-on-you laptop.

    Comparison with the Air: I had been looking forward to the Air, and was extremely disappointed by it (far more than my usual disappointment that the latest Apple laptop stubbornly lacks a second mouse button). The Air is twice as heavy, has a cripplingly small number of ports (a couple of my USB drives require two ports to supply adequate power), and (the real deal-breaker) has no ethernet. The world in which the Apple fanbase lives may have wireless available everywhere, but the world in which I do business does not. The IT staff of many of my clients cannot even grasp the need for DHCP, let alone wifi.

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