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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Video of the viewing angles of the display
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.
|3DMark 2001SE Standard||3241 points|
|3DMark 03 Standard||839 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||401 points|
|3DMark 06 Standard||151 points|
|PCMark 05 Standard||2460 points|
|Rendering Single 32Bit||1335 Points|
|Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit||2515 Points|
|Shading 32Bit||444 Points|
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.
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.
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.