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Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W review: Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W

Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W

Joshua Goldman
Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
5 min read

Before the influx of low-cost Netbooks, small, thin laptops (then called ultraportables) were typically very expensive. Now, however, it's a little trickier to slap a high price on something just because it's small and light. Toshiba is banking on people realizing that small is one thing, but small, secure, and powerful is quite another.


Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W

The Good

Truly ultraportable; very good performance for its size; impressive battery life; built-in DVD burner.

The Bad

Expensive; WiMAX of limited immediate use; flimsy screen.

The Bottom Line

The Toshiba Portege R600 may be pricey compared with Netbooks, but it has a lot more to offer beyond its ultraportable size.

The Portege R600-series notebook continues the company's run of pygmy portables that provide a level of performance necessary for serious productivity work in an extraordinarily compact, lightweight chassis that won't have you feeling like your making sacrifices for mobility. Note that unlike Netbooks, this high-end ultraportable includes a Core 2 Duo processor and a DVD burner.

The model we tested--the R600-ST520W--didn't leave us wishing we had more or less of anything. Well, unless you include its WiMAX readiness and the fact that we don't live and work in Baltimore.

Price as reviewed / Starting price $2,149/$2,099
Processor 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9400
Memory 3GB, 800MHz DDR2
Hard drive 160GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Mobile Intel GM45 Express Chipset
Graphics 128MB Intel GMA 4500MHD (integrated)
Operating System Windows Vista Business
Dimensions 11.1 inches wide by 8.5 inches deep
Height 0.77 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 12.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 2.4/3 pounds
Category Ultraportable

The R600's size will get you more stares at the airport lounge than its overall design, but it is an attractive laptop. The biggest issue with the chassis is the amount of flex. The palm rests have a lot of give, and the screen can easily be bowed. We can't say this makes it weaker or more prone to damage than an LCD backed by a stiffer material, but it can't be a good thing.

The notebook is petite without being uncomfortable to use. Its keyboard, touch pad, and complementary buttons are quite usable for frequent extended use, though as an everyday-all-day laptop you'll likely long for something just a little bigger. The same could be said for the 12.1-inch wide-screen LCD, which is just enough room to work comfortably without too much squinting. It offers a 1,280x800 native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size and, thankfully, it doesn't have a glossy screen. Actually, it's a transreflective display that allows you to shut off the backlight (there's a button at the top of the keyboard's right side) and use direct light such as the sun to light up the screen. The screen is topped by a Webcam and microphone, as well.

Since the R600 is made for business, it's no surprise there is only a single small speaker next to the power button at the top left of the keyboard, and there are no media controls; at least there's a volume dial at the front-left side of the body. There's also a fingerprint reader between the touch pad buttons for extra security. Toshiba includes its Security Assist software as well for data encryption and password protection of the BIOS and hard drive.

  Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W Average for category [ultraportable]
Video VGA-out VGA-out, mini-HDMI or Mini-DVI
Audio Mono speaker, headphone/microphone jacks Headphone/microphone jacks
Data 2 USB 2.0, USB/eSATA combo, SD card reader 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/54 ExpressCard/34
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Xohm WiMAX modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive DVD burner None, or DVD burner

We don't consider this a system people would use as their main computer, despite its cost. That's why it's not a big deal to us that the hard drive is only 160GB. If you've got $3,500 and want more storage and better performance, you can get the R600 configured with a 512GB solid-state drive; $2,500 gets you a version with a 128GB SSD. (That 160GB hard drive just got a lot more attractive, right?) More importantly, you get a built-in DVD RW drive and an ExpressCard slot, giving you backup storage and expansion options. Plus, the USB/eSATA-combo port features Toshiba's Sleep and Charge technology for, you guessed it, charging a device while the notebook sleeps.

Along with Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi, Toshiba includes a Xohm WiMAX radio in this build of the R600. We'd love to tell you it works great, but unless you live in Baltimore, Md., or Portland, Ore., (we don't) there's no access to this next-gen wireless Internet service. It gives the laptop a bit of future-proofing should the network continue to roll out into areas in which you live and work.

Despite running on an ultralow-voltage processor, it's an Intel Core 2 Duo capable of some very good performance. It did particularly well on our multimedia multitasking tests, where it outpaced the Dell Adamo and its Core 2 Duo U9300 CPU. In our informal testing, we found the R600 to be adequately powered for typical productivity tasks, including managing large spreadsheets and word processing, working with Web apps, and basic photo editing. We also found it be a much more robust experience than using an Intel-Atom-powered Netbook.

The R600 ran for an impressive 5 hours and 8 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. Because our drain test is especially grueling, you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.

Toshiba includes a three-year, parts-and-labor warranty with the system--fairly standard for business systems. The battery is only covered for a year, though. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, plus there's online support via the Toshiba Web site. Service can be done by mailing the system into the Toshiba Depot or carry-in warranty service via authorized service providers.

Multimedia Multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W
Dell Adamo

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W
Windows Vista Business Edition SP1; 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9400; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 160GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Dell Adamo
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9300; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 779MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 128GB Samsung SSD

Acer Aspire 3935-6504
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7350; 3072MB DDR2 SDRAM 1066MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel GMA 4500MHD; 250GB Toshiba 5400rpm


Toshiba Portege R600-ST520W

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 7Battery 7Support 7
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