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Toshiba Portege R830 review: Toshiba Portege R830

Our version of the Toshiba Portege R830, the R830-138, offers great performance and some smashing features, such as integrated mobile broadband. There's no denying that it's very expensive for a 13-inch laptop, though.

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Niall Magennis
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Niall Magennis

Reviewer

Niall has been writing about technology for over 10 years, working for the UK's most prestigious newspapers, magazines and websites in the process. What he doesn't know about TVs and laptops isn't worth worrying about. It's a little known fact that if you stacked all the TVs and laptops he has ever reviewed on top of each other, the pile would reach all the way to the moon and back four times.

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3 min read

The Toshiba Portege R830 aims to put some serious firepower at your fingertips when you're on the move. This 13.3-inch laptop packs in a pretty feisty processor, yet weighs only 1.48kg. It doesn't come cheap, though. Our version, the R830-138, which has an Intel Core i5-2520M chip and 500GB hard drive, will set you back just shy of £1,250.

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6.5

Toshiba Portege R830

The Good

Fast processor; integrated mobile broadband; good keyboard.

The Bad

Build quality could be better; short battery life.

The Bottom Line

Our version of the Toshiba Portege R830, the R830-138, offers great performance and some smashing features, such as integrated mobile broadband. There's no denying that it's very expensive for a 13-inch laptop, though.

Looks the business

With its matte black lid, brushed-metal-effect wrist rest and chrome highlights, the R830 looks ready for business. Measuring 316 by 277 by 27, it's petite enough to fit in even small backpacks and briefcases.

Toshiba usually has build quality licked, but the R830 isn't one of its finest efforts. When the laptop is closed, the lid feels very flimsy, flexing significantly if you its press its centre.

The 13.3-inch display isn't anything out of the ordinary -- it has the same 1,366x768-pixel resolution that you'll find on most screens of this size. It's very bright, though, offering good viewing angles both on the horizontal and vertical axes. The display has a matte finish, so reflections aren't a problem and colours still manage to look quite rich and natural.

The isolated keys on the keyboard are reasonably large, and their flat surface makes them easy to hit accurately with your fingers. The keys don't have a huge amount of travel, but they still feel fast and responsive to type on. We had no problem using them to touch type at speed.

The keyboard isn't backlit, however, which is disappointing given the laptop's high price. Nevertheless, we like the large trackpad and, nestled between the two trackpad buttons, there's a fingerprint reader that you can use with the pre-loaded software to secure your files.

A fingerprint reader is nestled between the two trackpad buttons.

Despite the slim chassis, Toshiba has managed to fit in a DVD writer, and there's also a pretty generously sized 500GB hard drive for storing your files.

The line-up of ports isn't too bad either. On the right-hand side, there's a USB 3.0 port, while the left-hand side is home to a USB 2.0 port, as well as a dual-function eSATA and USB port. The latter is also enabled for 'sleep and charge', so you can use it to charge mobile devices, such as phones and cameras, when the laptop is powered down.

This machine's wireless capabilities are impressive -- along with 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 support, it also has built-in mobile broadband. Slap in a SIM card and you can surf the Web via HSDPA at speeds of up to 14.4Mbps. This is one of the main reasons why the laptop is so pricey.

Eat its dust

The dual-core Intel Core i5-2520M is a Sandy Bridge chip, clocked at 2.5GHz. It's certainly no slouch in the performance stakes. Twinned with 4GB of RAM, it managed to push the R830-138 to a score of 7,536 in the PCMark05 benchmark test, which is pretty cracking for an ultra-portable machine.

This laptop is most likely to be used for tasks like editing Excel spreadsheets and working on Word documents, but a score like this indicates it'll be more than happy dealing with much more demanding tasks, such as editing videos.

One of the benefits of the new Sandy Bridge chips is that they feature Intel's faster integrated graphics. In 3DMark06, its chip helped the R830-138 to a score of 4,036, which isn't bad by ultra-portable standards, although it's still not quick enough to play the latest games at decent frame rates. That said, the R830-138 isn't really a gamer's machine and it'll handle other graphics duties, such as hi-def video playback, without any problems.

Battery life is crucial for any laptop designed primarily to be used while on the move, but, unfortunately, the R830-138 doesn't excel in this area. It only managed to keep running for 1 hour and 23 minutes in the extremely intensive Battery Eater Classic test before giving up the ghost -- the best ultra-portables pass the 2 hour mark. Still, you'll get longer battery life with normal use.

Conclusion

Overall, the Toshiba Portege R830-138 is rather disappointing. It offers great performance and we love the fact that mobile broadband is built in. But we expected better build quality, given the laptop's high price tag, and its battery life is also below-par.

Edited by Charles Kloet