Road Warrior: Toshiba Portege R700

Toshiba recently celebrated it’s 25th anniversary of manufacturing mobile computers, and in honor of the occasion, took the opportunity to bestow upon us the new Portege R700. The latest in a long and reputable line of superthin and superlight ultraportable notebooks, the R700 (and nearly identical R705 retail model) do not disappoint. At under an inch thick and just 3.2lbs, Toshiba claims that the R700 is the lightest 13.3” notebook with an integrated optical drive. Which is all the more amazing considering the R700 forgoes the Core i3/i5/i7 ULV processors for the real deal - the standard Core i3, i5, and i7 CPUs - and the $799 starting price for the R705. Add in the aluminum chassis with an internal honeycomb structure, the 66 Wh battery rated for 8.5 hours of life, Intel’s Wireless Display tech (R705-only), a fair handful of ports including HDMI and eSATA, optional SSDs, etc, and you’re looking at one very well equipped ultraportable.

I’m particularly impressed by the R705, which has a Core i3 350M, 4GB of DDR3, a 500GB hard drive, Intel HD graphics, and all of the fun stuff I mentioned before, like the aluminum chassis, WiDi, an integrated DVD burner, and 66 Wh battery, for just $799. Which, for a 3.2lb ultraportable, is pretty impressive. They managed to take a fairly standard mainstream notebook and stuff it into a case with the same footprint and carrying weight as the MacBook Air (though obviously a bit thicker). The two really impressive things about that? They still managed to put the optical drive in it, and they didn’t have to sacrifice build quality or the aluminum chassis to keep it under a grand.

I do have a couple of concerns though, starting with the heat output - given Toshiba’s history, and the amount of power they’ve packed into such a thin and light enclosure, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it got hot enough to double as a mini-stovetop. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exageration, but it won’t be the coolest running notebook on the block for sure. Also, given the price, the LCD panel is bound to be a disappointment (I’d be shocked if it wasn’t.) But against the competition, the R700 cuts a figure that’s somehow smaller and faster while still being reasonably priced, which makes it ideal for on the go users.

Alternative: Lenovo ThinkPad X201

You’ll hear more about this one later, but for the moment, here are the relevant details: 12” screen, full power Core i3/i5/i7 processors, 2.9lb starting weight (4 cell battery), 3.5 lbs with a 9 cell battery rated at an astounding 12 hours of runtime, and the legendary ThinkPad build quality. It lost out to the Toshiba for being about $500 dollars more expensive similarly equipped , not having a DVD drive, and having to choose between a heavier notebook with the 9 cell battery or having less battery life with the 6 cell battery.

Gaming Portable: Alienware M11x Media/HTPC Notebook: Sony EA series
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  • neothe0ne - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    I feel like you did the Envy 14 an injustice by not even mentioning switchable graphics. And I don't believe the opening page with "NVIDIA dominates the portable market" - all Dells, most Sonys, all HPs, and then some are using ATI cards now.
  • ExodusC - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    Also, I'd like to note that from the users that have gotten their Envy 14s already, they have stated that it does not get uncomfortably hot (like the Envy 15 was known to). It apparently stays relatively cool, even while gaming (not sure about something super intensive like 3DMark or Furmark).
  • KZ0 - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    In very many of the reviews I've read here, it has been commented on how the screen sucks, as usual. When there finally is an affordable notebook with a great 1600x900 14" screen, it's not even commented on? Why? I know some models (non US-factory, the Amazon model, etc) have a 1366x768 display, but the HD+ screen is even included in the base 1099 USD factory price!

    When there's no review model available, at least use what info there is (user reviews) instead of speculation! And the i7 quad option isn't even a reasonable upgrade for most people, killing battery life (not having an integrated GPU to use the switchable graphics, and higher power consumption), making more heat / noise, and not providing much of a performance increase for most people.

    A review or analysis on Anandtech is generally very good, and I've been following the site for quite some time now (though not posting), but this disappoints me.
  • JPForums - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    Don't be disappointed. This is Anandtech. They don't claim to be perfect, but they do accept feedback. If you bring up legitimate concerns, they are pretty good about fixing it for future articles. You may even get an update to a current article.

    That said I'd like to voice my opinion that 1600x900 or better resolution screens in a 14" or smaller notebook is a very compelling feature. Such a screen may be worth the trade off in battery life and/or cost as there are cases where the increased desktop real estate results in a significant increase in productivity. This productivity boost is not easy to measure, but at least warrants a word.
  • TareX - Friday, March 4, 2011 - link

    My Envy 14 has a Radiance 900p screen that simply blows away every other 14" Laptop screen in the market.

    It is NOT plagued by the older generation Envy laptops' issues with heat.

    I am quite perplexed by this Anadtech article. If they didn't review it, they could have at least read the impressions of other sites whose editors actually used the new Envy 14.
  • VivekGowri - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    By "the portable market" I was meaning laptops smaller than 14" (which this buyer's guide was focusing on) as distinct from the more mainstream and desktop replacement markets.

    How many 12" and 13" non-AMD laptops can you name with ATI graphics? Off the top of my head, the Sony S series has an optional ATI HD 5470 card, and the Lenovo U450p that had an HD 4330 switched to Nvidia when it got bumped to Arrandale. Other than that, a lot of the really portable notebooks tend to use Nvidia GPUs. Cases in point: the entire Asus portable lineup, the M11x, the VAIO Z, the Lenovo U460, etc etc etc. So I think it was a fair term.

    Once you start getting to 14" and larger notebooks, you start seeing a lot of ATI GPUs, yes, but not in notebooks smaller than that.
  • ExodusC - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    I should have stated I don't necessarily agree with neothe0ne. I replied to his comment as it was related to the Envy 14. I have to agree with you, actually, that NVIDIA has dominance with their mobile parts. From what I understand, AMD is gaining ground, in that market segment though, are they not?

    I mainly wanted to question the Envy 14 getting hot-- from everything I've read, it really doesn't get that hot (maybe in a lap, if the vents are covered? I figure anyone using the dGPU will be gaming, and therefore plugged into an outlet and on a desk).

    Most importantly, Vivek, is AnandTech planning a review? Last I heard it was hard to get a review unit, but I'm really curious if AT has heard anything from HP about it. The Envy 14 seems to be gaining a lot of popularity as a MBP-alternative, as many people have an anti-Apple stigma.
  • ExodusC - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    Oh, and one last thing, the Envy 14's battery may be sealed in, but it's easily removable by flipping a simple switch. I know it's a minor thing, but when I read the article, it seemed to suggest the battery was non-removable, like the MBP.

  • ExodusC - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    Well, after a second look some users report it getting hot, others say it doesn't get hot. I guess it depends what kind of load it's under.
  • Visual - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    The HP tm2 uses ATI 4550, and it being a tablet convertible has better portability than any of the ones included in this "guide", while not being far in performance too. I'm actually surprised it was not mentioned.

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