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Review Toshiba Portégé R500-12P Subnotebook

First Class Travelling - the second.

The notebook producer, Toshiba, gave the Portégé R500 model an unostentatious look, at the same time sticking to the strentghs that we outlined in our review from March of 2008. Thankfully, the quality of the worksmanship, the design and the material used was not changed. Even on the hardware side, not much changed; Toshiba stayed with pretty much the same processor, graphics card, and RAM specifications. However, in this review you will find out what was changed.

Review Toshiba Portégé R500 Logo

There are two major differences between the model from march and the one we have now. The first difference is the storage capacity. Toshiba has equipped the Portégé R500-12P with a 128 GB Solid-State-Disc (SSD), double the size of what we had back then (64 GB). The second difference is the integrated optical drive, which has areally small size of 7 millimeters. Toshibs did not include this in the previous model which meant that the users had to find an external optical drive to use with the laptop.

Case

As already mentioned, Toshiba did not make any major changes to the design or the material used for the case. The top of the laptop is, as before, a metallic silver in color, which has a great feel to it, both of which are due to the  very sturdy magnesium case used for the laptop. The light weight of the Portégé R500-12P, a mere 0.979 kilogramm, with the integrated Slim DVD-Super-Multi drive is also due to, in part, the magnesium case.
However, while handling the Portégé R500-12P, one gets the feeling that the laptop is not very sturdy, due to the fact that the light weight gives the user the sensation that he is not holding "much in his hand".

The slim 12,1 Zoll display of the Portégé R500-12P is held in place by two, very generously dimensioned hinges. Like most subnotebooks, the Portégé R500-12P does not have a locking mechanism for the display, yet the laptop can still be closed easily. Thus, the display can also be easily opened, without the laptop emitting any creaking noises from the hinges or the case. However, one should be careful, during transport, not to let any loose object slip between the display and the keyboard as this could cause serious damage to the screen. It would be advisable to use a separate protective cover for this, which is unfortunately not included in the delivery of the laptop.

Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P

Connectivity

The biggest changes, made to the Portégé R500-12P, during Toshiba's "mini refresh", were made to the connections offered by the laptop. By using the Slim DVD-Super-Multi drive, the manufacturers could preserve the small dimensions of their business laptop, and so they did not have to  remove, or otherwise change, any of the other connections on the case. Thus, the Portégé R500-12P still has three USB Ports, Firewire, a VGA connecter, which allows the use of an external screen or beamer, and audio ports for the microphone and headphones. A LAN port (Intel(R) PRO/1000 PL Network Connection) and a Kensington Lock near the hinges are also present on the case. Of course, the Portégé R500-12P also has a WLAN module of the Intel(R) Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN type, which can be used for wireless surfing.

The Portégé R500-12P has become a bit heavier due to the circa 7 millimeter big optical drive. However, due to this integration, the user does not have to carry around an expensive external DVD drive to fulfill his needs.

The communication interfaces have not been changed much either. The Portégé R500-12P still has the Gigabit LAN port and Wireless LAN Draft-N, and, now, it also has a Bluetooh port and a UMTS module.
Like in the previous model, a fingerprint reader is used here to secure the data on the laptop. The small device can be found between the two mouse keys. The user can activate additional security measures via the Toshiba Security Assistant which are designed to protect personal data from hackers and other unauthorised users.

For storage, a 128 GB Solid-State-Disc (SSD) is used for the new model. With this new storage disc Toshiba has doubled the storage capacity of the laptop from the modest 64 GB, that was available on the previous model, to a more practical 128 GB.

Front side: no ports
Front side: no ports
Left side: Network connections, VGA Port, USB, Firewire, Cooler, USB, Audio
Left side: Network connections, VGA Port, USB, Firewire, Cooler, USB, Audio
Back side: Battery
Back side: Battery
Right side: Cardreader, DVD drive, PCMCIA, USB, LAN, Kensington Lock
Right side: Cardreader, DVD drive, PCMCIA, USB, LAN, Kensington Lock

Input Devices

As to the keyboard and the touchpad, we have found nothing new. The positioning of the keys is good, and there were barely any mistakes in our practical typing test. Important keys like Enter- or Space key are generously dimensioned, just like the Shift- and the Backspace key

The space of the touchpad is relatively big in dimension, and reacts very sensitively to the movements of our finger. The two touchpad keys match the design of the rest of the laptop very well. However, in practical use, the user can notice a relatively big "dead zone" (region where pushing the button does not seem to have an effect) on the left and right sides of the keys. The only way to get clear feedback is to push the keys right in the middle. However, this fault should not be present to begin with in a notebook in such a price range.

For more information about the keyboard or the touchpad, you can read further here.

Keyboard
Keyboard in the Toshiba Portégé R500-12P Subnotebook
Touchpad
Touchpad in the Toshiba Portégé R500-12P Subnotebook

Display

The display is definitely one of the specialities of the Toshiba Portégé R500-12P. Equipped with a matted transflective 12.1 inch WXGA LED display, with a maximum resolution of 1280x800 pixels. By pressing one button the LED backlight of the display can be switched off, and the display will use the brightness of it's environment to display the material on the screen. This is especially useful out in the open, or when the sun is shining directly on the laptop.

The disadvantage of the transflective display is that the screen displays a picture of modest quality which has under average contrast, and the colors, depending on the user, are less defined. Overall, we could confirm these characteristics in our test of the Portégé R500-12P.
For more information about the display please read our review of the Portégé R500.

Toshiba Portégé R500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Toshiba Portégé R500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Toshiba Portégé R500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Toshiba Portégé R500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Toshiba Portégé R500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Toshiba Portégé R500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Toshiba Portégé R500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Toshiba Portégé R500 Blickwinkelstabilität



Video of the viewing angles of the display

Performance

We can't report anything new about the performance of the Portégé R500-12P as the hardware components are identical to the ones from last year. The Portégé R500, which we tested in march of 2008, achieved 443, 2515, and 1342 points for shading, multi- and single rendering respectively, in the Cinebench R10 benchmark. The Portégé lying in front of us achieved 444, 2515, and 1342 points in the above mentioned sections, basically identical.

Additional performance tests of the Toshiba Portégé R500 are available here.

System information CPU
System information CPU
System information CPU
System information GPU
System information HDD
System information about the Toshiba Portégé R500
3D Mark
3DMark 2001SE3241 points
3DMark 03839 points
3DMark 05401 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
151 points
Help
3DMark 06 in comparison
Asus Eee PC 1101HA (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
68
   ...
Asus Eee PC 1016P
 N455, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3150
149
Asus Eee PC 1005PE
 N450, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3150
150
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
 U7700, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
151
Asus Eee PC R101
 N450, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3150
156
Asus Eee PC 1008P
 N450, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3150
158
   ...
Clevo Clevo P157SM (max)
 4930MX, GeForce GTX 880M
29955
PC Mark
PCMark 052460 points
Help
PCMark 05 in comparison
Acer Aspire One 751 (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
692
   ...
Benq Joybook 5200G.G02
 740, Mobility Radeon X300
2413
Samsung X120
 SU7300, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500M
2440
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
 U7700, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
2460
Toshiba Portégé R500 SSD
 U7700, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
2460
Asus UX50V
 SU3500, GeForce G 105M
2497
   ...
Fujitsu Celsius H710 WXP11DE (max)
 2820QM, Quadro 1000M
13842
Cinebench R10
 SettingsValue
 Rendering Single 32Bit1335 Points
 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit2515 Points
 Shading 32Bit444 Points
Toshiba THNS128GE8BM
Transfer Rate Minimum: 48.6 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 74.3 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 66.9 MB/s
Access Time: 0.4 ms
Burst Rate: 50 MB/s
CPU Usage: 10 %

Emissions

Even the emissions from the laptop have stayed the same. Just the operating temperature of the laptop has increased noticeably, but that is just probably due to the new optical drive. Detailed information about the noise emissions and the heat emissions can be found in the original review of the R500.

Battery Life

A few changes were made to the battery life. The model which we tested in march of 2008 was equipped with a lithium ion battery with a modest capacity of only 2900 mAh, whereas our test model now has a much more powerful battery with a capacity of 5900 mAh.

This helps the Portégé R500-12P with the configuration that we have to really high performance in terms of battery life. Our test model managed in the Battery Eater Classic test (with 100% CPU usage, everything on, and max. brightness) a good 145 minutes. In the Battery Eater Readers test, which provides the maximum battery life to be expected from the laptop, the laptop managed an amazing 6 hours and 30 minutes (390 minutes) with a full battery inside.

Even the average performance while surfing with the WLAN, with good or maximum brightness, was not disappointing, as the laptop lasted 246 minutes (4 hours and 6 minutes). Likewise the playing of a DVD with the now integrated optical drive with maximum brightness was completely satisfactory.  Here the laptop ran for about 158 minutes, which allows most films to be played from beginning to end without any problems.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
6h 30min
WiFi Surfing
4h 06min
DVD
2h 38min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 25min

Verdict

The Portégé R500-12P impressed us with its above mentioned strengths. Toshiba has even managed to improve on some of the weaknesses that we had pointed out, such as: the weak battery life. Even the now integrated optical drive with a height of 7 millimeters scores plus points for the R500.

However, the user still has to fight with certain faults in the laptop, like, for example, the touchpad, which needs getting used to, the clearly audible cooler, and the poor quality of the display.
The display shows it strengths, however, in outdoor use, especially, when it is really bright. The transflective LED display in the 12.1 inch configuration uses the brightness of its environment to display onscreen material and, thus, strengthens the rather modest brightness level of the display, on average about 150 cd/m², during indoor use.

The Tosiba R500-12P offers a very compact, but still a very well thought out, distribution of the ports. Three USB ports, a connection for a docking port, so as to increase the number of connection available on the laptop during office use, and an extensive communications module, which includes Gigabit LAN, Wireless LAN Draft-N, Bluetooth and UMTS/HSDPA, all together make up the diverse and many resources offered by the Toshiba R500-12P.

Even the battery life is impressive. The laptop can last between 2 hours and 25 minutes, under heavy CPU usage, and a maximum of 6.5 hours in energy conservation mode with optimal settings. Even in the practical test, using the WLAN, the laptop lasted for a great four hours and six minutes.

Only, the proud price tag attached to the laptop, of about 3199,- Euro (the recommended retail price from the Toshiba homepage (in German)), mars the otherwise very sturdy and mobile impression exuded by the subnotebook. The R500 will find it hard to compete in today's market, given the current netbook-hype, even if the clientele of the R500 is, admittedly, a different one.

Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
In Review: Toshiba Portégé R500
Toshiba Portégé R500

Specifications

Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
Graphics adapter
Memory
2048 MB 
, DDR2 PC5300 667MHz, 2x1024MB, max. 2048MB
Display
12.1 inch 16:10, 1280x800 pixel, WXGA Transflective TFT with LED backlight, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel 945GMS
Harddisk
Toshiba THNS128GE8BM, 128 GB 
Toshiba THNS128GE8BM (128 GB)
Soundcard
Realtek ALC262 HD Audio
Connections
1 PC-Card, 3 USB 2.0, 1 Firewire, 1 VGA, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: headphones, microphone, Card Reader: SD Cardreader,
Networking
Intel(R) PRO/1000 PL Network Connection (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (a b g n ), 2.0 Bluetooth
Optical drive
MATSHITA DVD-RAM UJ-844S USB Device
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 26 x 216 x 283 ( = 1.02 x 8.5 x 11.14 in)
Weight
979 g ( = 34.53 oz) Power Supply: 420 g ( = 14.82 oz)
Battery
56.8 Wh Lithium-Ion, 5800 mAh
Price
3199 Euro
Additional features
Cleaning cloth for the display

 

[+] compare
Nobody can criticize the Toshiba Portégé R500 for it's quality of worksmanship.
Nobody can criticize the Toshiba Portégé R500 for it's quality of worksmanship.
The cooler runs, despite the modest performance data, constantly, and can be described as clearly audible.
The cooler runs, despite the modest performance data, constantly, and can be described as clearly audible.
Additionally, the laptop has a total of 2 Gigabyte of RAM.
Additionally, the laptop has a total of 2 Gigabyte of RAM.
A Core 2 Duo U7700 CPU with 1.33 GHz and a 2MB L2-Cache, paired with a GMA 950 graphics card, make sure that the user has sufficient performance.
A Core 2 Duo U7700 CPU with 1.33 GHz and a 2MB L2-Cache, paired with a GMA 950 graphics card, make sure that the user has sufficient performance.
By pressing one button, the LED backlight can be completely deactivated and, thus, enables the screen to use the sunlight, in outdoor use, to display the material on screen at a passable quality.
By pressing one button, the LED backlight can be completely deactivated and, thus, enables the screen to use the sunlight, in outdoor use, to display the material on screen at a passable quality.
Due to that, the R500 is equipped with a transflective LED-display which uses the light in its environment to brighten the display of the laptop.
Due to that, the R500 is equipped with a transflective LED-display which uses the light in its environment to brighten the display of the laptop.
Toshiba turned to innovation when it came to the display.
Toshiba turned to innovation when it came to the display.
...a comfortable and generously sized keyboard with an easy to understand layout.
...a comfortable and generously sized keyboard with an easy to understand layout.
The Portégé uses the whole of its case width to accomodate the keyboard and, thus, offers...
The Portégé uses the whole of its case width to accomodate the keyboard and, thus, offers...
Aside from the WLAN Draft-N, the R500 also has an integrated UMTS/HSDPA module.
Aside from the WLAN Draft-N, the R500 also has an integrated UMTS/HSDPA module.
Moreover, the Portégé R500 has the obligatory docking port with which one can run an external monitor via DVI.
Moreover, the Portégé R500 has the obligatory docking port with which one can run an external monitor via DVI.
In this way, the notebook always cuts a fine figure in any and every situation.
In this way, the notebook always cuts a fine figure in any and every situation.
Straight yet harmonious forms give the Portégé R500 an adequate exterior.
Straight yet harmonious forms give the Portégé R500 an adequate exterior.
Smoothly functioning parts and a compact case make the R500 a player of the top leagues.
Smoothly functioning parts and a compact case make the R500 a player of the top leagues.
Less joyful is the sound that comes out of the integrated speakers. Headphones are recommended.
Less joyful is the sound that comes out of the integrated speakers. Headphones are recommended.

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Compare Prices

Toshiba Portégé R500 SSD at Ciao

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Rating

Toshiba Portégé R500-12P
01/12/2009
Liu Shao-Hung

Chassis
90%
Keyboard
88%
Pointing Device
76%
Connectivity
84%
Weight
100%
Battery
90%
Display
84%
Games Performance
46%
Application Performance
85%
Temperature
88%
Noise
82%
Add Points
90%
Average
84%
87%
Subnotebook *
Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Toshiba Portégé R500-12P Subnotebook
Author: Liu Shao-Hung, 2009-01-29 (Update: 2012-05-26)