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Portege R500, now with 128GB solid-state drive

A 128GB solid-state drive is the feather in the cap of Toshiba's ultra-thin laptop, the Portege R500.

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The eye-catching Portege R500, long one of our favorite ultraportable laptops, just got a little better. Tuesday morning, Toshiba announced the $2,999 Portege R500-S5007V, a new iteration of the remarkably thin laptop and the first portable to incorporate a 128GB solid-state drive.

To put it succinctly, we're psyched. Up to now, the biggest reservation we had about recommending solid-state drives was their relatively puny size, which pretty much required the purchase of an external hard drive to hold most of your media files--a tough expense to swallow after plunking down $3,000 (or more) on the laptop itself. However, 128GB seems like a workable size, and because the drive represents the second generation of solid-state technology, we have hopes that it will perform a little better as well.

The Portege R500-S5007V also features a built-in DVD burner, making it a little heavier than the DVD-free R500-S5003 we reviewed earlier this year. (The starting weight for the new model is still less than 2.5 pounds.) Otherwise, the updated Portege R500 is largely the same as its predecessors, with a 12.1-inch LED-backlit display, three USB ports, a fingerprint reader, and an SD card slot. Like its predecessors, the new version doesn't include a WWAN option, and its slim form factor still requires an ultra-low-voltage Core 2 Duo processor that isn't likely to win any speed races.

Nevertheless, the addition of a larger-capacity drive helps Toshiba keep at least one advantage over such lightweight, SSD-based systems as the MacBook Air and Lenovo ThinkPad X300.