The very first laptops started turning up about a quarter of a century ago, so it's natural that we'd start seeing some nostalgic looks back (we've seen some vintage models recently from the Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba archives). Toshiba is taking it one step further by releasing a pair of 25th-anniversary laptops.
The first is the Portege R700, a follow-up to one of our favorite laptops, the Portege R500. While that 2007 model had a 12-inch display and was one of the last vestiges of the $2,000-plus ultraportable category (before Netbooks came in and provided a less expensive small-screen option), this new version is an almost entirely different animal. It's a 13-inch model, still light and portable, but not in the same way the R500 was (especially in its solid-state-drive version).
Instead, the R700 comes in at under $1,000, weighs 3 pounds and is about one inch thick, while still including an optical drive. Unlike the latest 13-inch MacBooks, the R700 uses Intel's newer Core i-series CPUs. The magnesium alloy casing is reinforced with a honeycomb rib design, which, when we handled a demo system recently, felt much sturdier than the old Portege R500, which suffered from some serious lid flexing.
The business version of the R600 starts at $999 and includes a port replicator connection on the bottom, while the consumer version (differentiated by a blue lid) is $899, and includes Intel's Wireless Display technology, which uses a sold-separately receiver to transmit video signals to your TV.
The second 25th-anniversary laptop from Toshiba is a bit more of a showpiece. The Libretto W100 is a limited-run touch-screen laptop that pays homage to Toshiba's long-running line of nearly handheld-size laptops. This new version is particularly eye-catching, as it replaces the typical keyboard/screen combo with two touch-sensitive panels, hinged in the middle.
One of the two 7-inch displays acts as a normal laptop screen, while the other can display a usable keyboard (a bit like the one of the iPad), or one of six other navigation layouts. We tried a demo unit out recently, and while it's probably not going to be a practical substitute for traditional laptop keyboard anytime soon, it's an interesting look at the idea of a virtual keyboard. Helpfully, a built-in accelerometer can rotate the screens automatically as needed when viewing in portrait mode.
The W100 has an Intel Pentium U5400 processor and has 2GB of RAM and a 62GB SSD. It isn't being pitched as a mainstream device and only a limited number will be available online from Toshiba and online retailers. There's no official price yet, but it'll be north of $1,000.