Toshiba Portege R100 review: Toshiba Portege R100

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MSRP: $2,299.00

The Good Very thin and light; long battery life with high-capacity battery; integrated 802.11b wireless; full-size VGA port; three-year warranty.

The Bad Short battery life with primary battery; limited secondary storage options through Toshiba.

The Bottom Line The Toshiba Portege R100 is a very light, well-designed laptop, but like many ultraportables, it suffers from abbreviated battery life when running off its primary cell.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 9
  • Support 9

Toshiba's smallest laptop, the Portege R100, recently got a boost in the form of a faster Pentium M processor and a larger hard drive. These new parts are still housed in the same superlight case that barely breaks 2.4 pounds. As with any company producing ultraportables, Toshiba cut some design corners to keep the case so slim. For example, the primary battery is barely bigger than a deck of cards--and it shows in the system's short, 126-minute battery life. However, the high-capacity secondary battery (included in the purchase price) brings up the battery life to an incredible 404 minutes. Other highlights include integrated 802.11b wireless and a relatively big keyboard, which make the Portege R100 a pleasure to take on the road.

There's not much an ultralight maker can do with a case that measures only 11.3 by 9 by 0.7 inches (W, D, H) and weighs just 2.4 pounds. The AC adapter adds 0.64 pounds to the travel weight, while the second battery adds 0.7 pounds, bringing the system to a total of 3.7 pounds. The notebook rises slightly at the rear to accommodate an ultralight rarity--a full-size VGA port--on the back edge, so you won't need a port replicator or an adapter to connect to an external monitor. The same edge also offers one port each for a 56Kbps modem and Ethernet and two ports for USB 2.0. One Type II PC Card slot, headphone and microphone ports, and a wireless On/Off switch sit on the right edge, while a Secure Digital (SD) slot that handles small SD media cards is on the left edge.

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The Portege R100's keyboard keeps important keys big.
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A second, high-capacity battery is included in the price.

Despite its size, the Portege R100 manages to keep some important things big. The keyboard is less cramped than those found on most ultralights, as are the touchpad and the two mouse buttons. With the second battery attached, the keyboard slants up slightly for a nice typing angle. The 12.1-inch display is also sufficiently large for a system this tiny.

While Toshiba did a good job generally of allocating the Portege R100's limited space, the company couldn't work miracles. All secondary storage drives, for example, are external.

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The 12.1-inch screen has a native resolution of 1,024x768 pixels.

The Portege R100 is, for the most part, a set configuration, with only a few ways to spruce it up when you buy. The choices are varying amounts of memory from 256MB to 1GB, a 30GB or 40GB hard drive, and 802.11b or 802.11a/b wireless mini-PCI cards. Otherwise, every Portege R100 includes a 1GHz Pentium M processor, Intel's 855PM chipset, a Trident XP4m32 LP graphics chip with 32MB of dedicated DDR video RAM, and a 12.1-inch screen with a native resolution of 1,024x768 pixels.

The Portege R100 lacks an internal modular bay for secondary storage drives, so Toshiba sells two external drives for the system: a USB 2.0 floppy drive and a PC Card-based DVD-ROM drive. If you need newer secondary storage drives, such as a DVD/CD-RW combo drive, you'll have to get them from third-party providers, such as &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epcmall%2Ecom%2Fpcmall%2Fshop%2Fdetail%2Easp%3Fdpno%3D754838" target="_blank"> Addonics--a lot less convenient than going through Toshiba.

In keeping with the spartan theme, the Portege R100 comes with one operating system--Windows XP Professional. Your two office suite choices are the standard Microsoft Office XP Small Business and Professional editions. Remaining software includes a couple of Toshiba utilities and Adobe Acrobat Reader.

We tested the Portege R100 in two ways: first with just its primary battery, then by adding the bigger battery (included in the price). The latter setup greatly increased the battery life, but the difference in mobile performance was negligible. Even with two batteries running, the Portege R100 barely beat the Sharp PC-MV14 with just one battery. The Sony VAIO PCG-TR1A, also on one battery, smoked the competition--most likely because it had twice the memory of the other notebooks. For a system with its specs, the Portege R100 performs well running office and content-creation applications.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  
Toshiba Portege R100 (two batteries)
Sharp PC-MV14
Toshiba Portege R100 (normal battery)

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark 2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Find out more about how we test notebooks.

System configurations:

Sharp PC-MV14
Windows XP Professional; 1,200MHz Intel Pentium III; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME Extreme Graphics (up to 48MB); Hitachi DK23EA-40 40GB 4,200rpm

Windows XP Home; 900MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 GM/GME Extreme Graphics (up to 64MB); Toshiba MK3004GAH 30GB 4,200rpm

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