This week Australian Business Traveller is scoping out the best Windows notebooks for frequent business travellers. These high-flying laptops deliver just the right mix of maximum computing power and long battery life in a slim, light yet robust package.
We hit the ground running today with Toshiba's iconic Portege R700: a laptop that's evolved over several years with some exceptional engineering.
It's worth noting that the current Portege R700 models aren't the usual "latest and greatest" models. Although these sport Intel's Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, they're not the most recent second-generation 'Sandy Bridge' chips in the Core family.
But in Toshiba's favour, they opted for full-power versions of the Core line rather than 'ultra-low voltage' variants which trade speed for extra-long battery life. In short, you get maximum performance -- a rarity in very small and thin laptops.
At the same time, Toshiba claims an eight hour battery life for the R700, and says it uses new cooling technology developed with Intel to keep the laptop running cool.
It's likely the R700 will be updated again soon with Intel's latest "Sandy Bridge" generation of chips, which will be even faster. (This will also see the R700 move down in price as stocks of the 'old' line make way for the new.)
However, even with last year's Intel Core range built-in, the R700 is still a very powerful notebook.
Size and weight
The Portege R700, with casing made of black plastic finished to look like brushed graphite, is a 13.3" laptop, weighing in at just 1.29kg.
It measured 1.68cm at its thinnest point, through to 2.57cm at its thickest. This doesn't make it the skinniest notebook in its space, but it's bristling with features.
What you get
The 13.3" screen uses a matte finish, so you won't get reflections from overhead lights. The screen resolution is 1366x768 pixels -- not the 'full-HD' of Sony's Vaio Z but the right balance between price and resolution.
Despite being a tiny machine, it still includes an optical drive for watching or burning DVDs.
Hard drives up to 500GB are available, or for maximum speed, a 256GB solid state drive (SSD) can be ordered. SSDs use a type of flash memory -- a supercharged version of what's in camera memory cards -- and have no moving parts unlike traditional hard drives.
Underneath the keyboard, Toshiba has used a honeycomb structure of magnesium-alloy, which makes the machine very rigid, unlike lesser laptops where the keyboard will flex and creak. This rigid structure also provides more protection for the machine's innards.
The R700 can be ordered with up to 8GB RAM, which will be more than enough headroom for everyday usage.
There's also an optional inbuilt 3G modem, so all you need to do at a foreign destination is slip a SIM card into it and you'll be online.
There's also a webcam for Skype video chats and while it's not high definition it'll do the job of keeping in touch with colleagues, friends and family when you're on the road.
When at your desk at work or home, Toshiba's docking solution for the R700 provides a single connector to the laptop. External connectors include VGA and HDMI, serial, gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports, audio in/out and power.
Pricing ranges from A$1,625 to $3,877 depending on the model and options. A full list of the available configurations is at Toshiba Australia's website.