Toshiba's ridiculously lightweight Portege R600 might steal all the headlines, but, if you don't mind a few extra grams, the Portege A600 is cheaper. The A600-122 configuration that we reviewed comes in at around £1,080, and is just as well-featured as the R600. At just under 30mm thick, you shouldn't have any problems slipping it into your rucksack either.
With its silver livery, the A600 looks good from a distance, but, when you get close up, the plasticky chassis loses some of its appeal. It didn't take long for some small but noticeable scratches to appear on the lid -- investing in a carry case would be a wise move.
The left side of the chassis is home to two USB ports (one of which will also accept eSata devices), audio sockets (complete with a traditional-style volume wheel), VGA out and the power socket. On the right side are a third USB port, Gigabit LAN, SD card reader, Wi-Fi switch and -- impressively, considering the laptop's small dimensions -- a DVD burner.
The panel underneath the optical drive flexes more than we'd like, as does the screen, but the A600 feels surprisingly robust otherwise.
Toshiba has resisted giving the 12.1-inch display a glossy coating, so you won't be hampered by reflections if you take it for a jaunt outside. Better still, it's LED-backlit, which helps give the battery life a boost. On the downside, it's not the brightest display we've seen, and you'll need to position it carefully, as viewing angles aren't great.
Considering an optical drive is built in, the A600's 1.46kg weight (not including the power adaptor) isn't bad, but there are lighter alternatives available if you're willing to increase your budget.
The keys are rather spongy but we had no trouble typing at speed. The textured trackpad is comfortable to use and, although small, the left and right buttons are responsive.
Intel's Core 2 Duo U9300 drives the A600 -- the same processer as featured in Samsung's similarly portable , and 2GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM comes preinstalled.