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Toshiba Portege R600 review: Toshiba Portege R600

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The Good Good keyboard; lightweight chassis; integrated 3G/HSDPA modem.

The Bad Screen quality is sub-par; pricey.

The Bottom Line The Toshiba Portege R600 isn't as sexy as some of its rivals, but business users will love its super-light chassis, comfortable keyboard and integrated 3G modem, which allows Internet access almost anywhere

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8.3 Overall

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The Toshiba Portege R600 is the follow-up to the Portege R500, famously claimed by Toshiba to be the lightest laptop in the world. The R600 boasts a number of improvements, including superior build quality, better battery life and better wireless capabilities. It's available directly from Toshiba and comes in four configurations, starting at around £1,100.

The R600 looks identical to the R500, which is no bad thing. It's pretty attractive for a business-orientated laptop, although, if it's all-out sexiness you want, you should probably consider the Sony Vaio TZ series.

The R600 is just as light as the R500, which is no mean feat. The R600-108 variant -- which uses a solid-state drive and has no optical drive -- tips the scales at 773g, while those with mechanical hard drives and optical drives weigh just 1.1kg.

Despite weighing so little, the R600 is better-built than its predecessor. The wrist rest doesn't buckle under the weight of your hands, and there's much less flex in the keyboard. The screen still flexes, but not to the same disconcerting degree as the R500's.

The R600 weights just 1.1kg -- even with an optical drive. Without this, it tips the scales at a remarkable 773g

The keyboard seems unchanged from the previous model. It's still fairly comfortable to use, it's still spill-resistant to 100cl of liquid, and the left shift key is still slightly too small for our tastes.

The mouse trackpad causes us slight consternation because the dedicated vertical scroll strip, which lets you move vertically through documents with a swipe of a finger, is a touch too sensitive. We often found our documents zooming up or down randomly while we were undertaking the simplest of cursor tasks, meaning we had to adjust the sensitivity manually via software.

Secure logins seem to be high on the R600's list of priorities, and that's no surprise considering the audience it's aimed at. Not only does it have a fingerprint reader nestling between the mouse selector buttons but it also packs face-recognition software that uses the integrated webcam to distinguish between authorised users and potential data thieves. Both login methods are pretty effective, but we were drawn to the facial-recognition feature for the sheer novelty factor.

The R600 is available in four separate configurations. The £1,100 entry-level machine uses a 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 CPU, while the three remaining models, costing around £1,300, £1,600, and £1,700, all use the slightly quicker SU9400, running at 1.4GHz. All use 3MB of DDR2 800MHz RAM but can be upgraded to 5GB of RAM should 3GB start to feel sluggish.

From left to right, there's a dual eSATA/USB port, exhaust vents, USB, mic and headphone ports, and a volume-adjustment wheel

Storage on the entry-level system is a paltry 160GB. The next model up gets a 320GB disk, while the two top-rung systems make do with a 128GB SSD. SSDs provide less storage, admittedly, but their lack of moving parts means they're less prone to damage, draw less power and weigh less than mechanical drives. All versions except the £1,600 R600-108 ship with a DVD rewriter drive.

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