|Screen Size||13.3 inches|
|Screen Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Max Screen Resolution||1366 x 768 pixels|
|Processor||2.3 GHz Intel Core i5|
|RAM||4 GB DDR3|
|Memory Speed||1333 MHz|
|Hard Drive||640 GB Serial ATA hard disk drive|
|Graphics Coprocessor||Intel HD Graphics|
|Graphics Card Ram Size||1696 MB|
|Wireless Type||802.11 B/G, 802.11bgn, 802.11n, 802.11B|
|Number of USB 2.0 Ports||1|
|Number of USB 3.0 Ports||1|
|Average Battery Life (in hours)||8 hours|
Toshiba Portégé R835-P56x 13.3-Inch LED Laptop (Magnesium Blue)
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Intel Core i5-2410M 2.30GHz / 4GB DDR2 / 640GB Hard Drive / DVD+-R/RW / Intel HD Graphics / 802.11n / HDMI / USB 3.0 / Windows 7 Home Premium 14 diagonal widescreen HD TruBrite TFT LED Backlit LCD display (1366 x 768) native resolution Webcam and Microphone NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M with NVIDIA Optimus Technology including 1GB GDDR3 Discrete graphics memory Blu-ray Reader and Labelflash SuperMulti DVD+-R/RW Double Layer Drive Wi-Fi Wireless 802.11b/g/n Bluetooth v3.0 + EDR 10/100 Ethernet LAN Memory Card Reader SD, SDHC, MS, MS Pro, MMC, xD, Mini SD, SDXC Dolby Advanced Audio and Built-in harman/kardon stereo speakers Premium Raised Tile LED backlit Keyboard and Touchpad with multi-touch control Ports - 1 x USB 3.0, 3 x USB 2.0 (2 x eSATA/USB combo), Headphone output, Microphone input, VGA, HDMI-CEC, RJ-45 Approximate Unit Dimensions - 13.3 (W) x 9.0 (D) x 1.12~1.39 (H) inches Approximate Unit Weight - 5.4 pounds
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- Clean and understated design
- Sturdy: most surfaces are made of metal (only the bezel, hinges, and a few bottom panels are plastic). You can easily lift it up by the corner with one hand.
- Battery life is good (7.5+ hours with mixed usage). Also, no "battery bulge" in the back!
- Battery is removable
- Trackpad has a nicely configurable driver (Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Mouse > Device Settings > Settings...)
- Value; saves enough money for an SSD compared to a competing system like a Macbook Pro (see below)
- Screen isn't great. (It isn't bad, though -- just narrow in vertical viewing angle).
- Black color means you might be tempted to clean the keyboard/trackpad a little obsessively.
- Industrial smell coming from the vent in the first few days of ownership (now gone)
- When closed, the lid depresses a little when you apply pressure to the middle. I suggest keeping the included fabric insert thing to protect the lid from keyboard scratches. (Note that keyboard scratches also occur on other notebooks, including the sturdy Apple Macbooks, so I'm not taking off any points).
I'm giving this laptop five stars because it represents a great value. I paid $835 for the system, and replaced the hard drive with an Intel X25-M 120GB SSD ($175). The total cost of my system therefore was $1010, which puts it in entry-level Macbook territory.
(Note that the SSD is very easy to install -- you unscrew two panels in the back, swap the drives, and clean-install your operating system).
Why the SSD? With the SSD plus Sandy Bridge processor, performance is superb -- startup is fast (15 seconds from button to login screen, plus 8 seconds from login to loaded desktop). Programs launch quickly, and shutdown is quick as well. I'd say the stock system with the hard drive is a bit imbalanced (processor is too fast for the 5400 RPM hard drive) but at least it comes with plenty of room and doesn't cost much. With this configuration, program launching and startup are slower, and you are stuck with bloatware, but the computer still operates reasonably fast.
Comparisons with other systems:
Compared with the Air, the R835 (with SSD installed) gives you:
- more storage space (120GB SSD on my R835 vs. 64GB for the $999 11" MBA model)
--- with SSD, similar bootup times (23 seconds for R835 vs. 15 seconds *see 6/2/2011 edit* for MBA) and wakeup times (both about 2 seconds)
- a better processor (core i5-2410M vs. a core 2 duo) and more memory
- longer battery life + removable battery
- a DVD drive, USB 3.0 port, eSATA, VGA (no need to carry a dongle around)
- 0.9 or 0.3 pounds more weight (vs. the 11" and 13" MBA models, respectively).
- about 0.25" more thickness
Compared with the Macbook Pro (13" entry-level model), you get:
- $190 in savings (with SSD in the R835) or $365 savings (with stock HDD)
-- With SSD swap, you get performance gains compared to the MB. With the default hard drive, you get twice as much storage (640GB vs. 320GB, both 5400 RPM).
- Removable battery
- Similar metal build quality (Macbook pro feels a little sturdier, but weighs 40% more)
- 1.3 pounds in weight savings (!)
Compared with the plastic Macbook (13" $999 model), you get:
- Metal build quality
- an SSD (for about the same total cost), or $165 in savings + 390GB more hard drive space
- Better processor (two generations ahead) and RAM (4GB vs. 2GB).
- 1.5 pound weight savings (!)
So, I saw no reason to go with the Macbooks when I could get superior performance and save money, weight, and battery flexibility with the R835.
Compared to other PC systems -- It's thinner and slightly less expensive than the Lenovo x220 (but isn't as rugged and has slightly shorter battery life), and is very much cheaper and has a better processor (but has an inferior screen) than the Sony Z series.
In short, the R835 makes its Apple competitors look seriously overpriced (or under-featured, depending on how you look at it) and costs less than its PC competitors.
My evaluation of the unit:
I liked the design -- it's quite sturdy (with its metal construction) and light (3.2 pounds). It doesn't feel as "dense" as the Macbook Air, but it's sufficiently sturdy and light enough, such that you can lift it by a corner with one hand. Also, it certainly breaks a threshold in thinness, so it certainly *looks* thin. The CD/DVD drive makes a great "but wait, there's more" parlor trick!
(The design also appeals to me because it's pleasantly different from the Macbooks' design. In my Econ class, it looks stealthy and elegant compared to the sea of glowing Apples. Funny how "Think Different" should now apply to a PC rather than a Mac...)
As noted above, the performance is good, especially with an SSD installed. The weakest point is the integrated graphics, though it's not completely pathetic; I was able to play Portal without too much choppiness.
The battery life is great -- I got 7.5 hours with mixed use (web browsing, spreadsheets, including an hour of Steam running). I estimate you get about 4-5 minutes per percent used (according to the Windows battery icon), or 400-500 minutes total.
There are a few minor drawbacks. For one, the screen is merely average because the vertical viewing angle is not good. Also, a downside to the black body color is that I obsessively clean it with every fleck of dust. The unit had a distinctly industrial smell when it first came, but now it's gone. Also, its lid depresses a little, which I suspect will lead to the keyboard leaving scratches on the screen (this also happens to Macbooks, which are supposed to be the pinnacle of design, so I guess it's acceptable). To counter this, I use the included piece of fabric between the screen and keyboard when I transport the unit around.
Despite these minor drawbacks, the system overall exudes great quality, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a well-built, fast, and highly portable notebook. I would strongly recommend replacing the stock hard drive with an SSD to balance the performance, especially given that the relatively low price (for this weight class) leaves some money to acquire an SSD.
EDIT (5/16/2011): PCMark Vantage scores for my system are here: [ ... ] . You can compare with other Core i5-2410M systems here: [ ... ]
EDIT (6/2/2011): I visited the Apple Store today. The 11-inch MBA started up in about 50 seconds (not sure what took so long), while the Core i7 MacBook Pro ($1500) started up in about 35 seconds (didn't have a chance to try the i5 MBP). If I remember correctly, the default R835 took about 60 seconds to start up. Again, the startup time for my configuration is 23 seconds.
EDIT (7/24/2011): Thanks to several reviewers for bringing this up: apparently, the motherboard does support SATA III speeds, but Toshiba disabled the speed, thus getting you SATA II speeds. This would mean that it wouldn't be too valuable buying a SATAIII SSD for use in this computer. I'll update this after I confirm this limitation.
The keyboard is a little loud, sure, but aside from that it is just about perfect. I've always liked the old IBM clicky keyboards. Typing on this reminds me of those, which I think is awesome.
The touchpad was *kinda* weird, but I got used to it quickly (have had the machine for about 2 weeks now). Another reviewer commented on the scrolling, and has a solution posted as well. After a couple hours of use, I have no problem using the touchpad (have even played Portal 2 a bit with it).
The performance is amazing, the only thing slowing it down is the hard drive. I have SSDs in my other machines, so the difference is pretty apparent to me. I'll pick up an SSD and make this the perfect little laptop.
Battery life is as advertised. I took it in to work one day and downloaded all of Portal 2, OpenSUSE 11.4 ISO, and Office, all while doing normal browsing with max brightness. I proceeded to burn and install OpenSUSE, and the battery still lasted roughly 6.5 hours. I was impressed.
The screen is definitely bright. I used it in a car with sunlight coming through the window with no issues. As most, I'd prefer a matte screen, but any glare on this is barely noticeable, I didn't even think about it while using it in the sun. I just mention it because I just read a ThinkPad review that had me thinking about it.
I mentioned above that I played Portal 2 on it, yup! Works better than I expected, the sandy bridge i5 is a beast!
I've already recommended this laptop to family and friends, it is definitely worth a look if you're in the market.
that being said, i think this is a great laptop, especially for students. here's why:
- i5 2nd gen (fast and efficient), handles multitasking extremely well.
- 4gb ram is more than enough memory.
- graphics could be better, but it is good enough. this laptop isn't designed for intense gaming; you're better off elsewhere if you're looking for that.
- eSATA and USB 3.0 makes this laptop a bit more future-proof.
- at 3.2 lbs, it is extremely light and very portable. i plan on bringing this baby to class.
- the keyboard is NOT as loud as some people have said, and i find it rather easy to type on (~120WPM).
- LED screen is very bright on the highest setting (8).
- the track pad is very easy to use and was easy to get used to (i also own a 13.3" macbook). the left and right click buttons are a bit loud, but the tap-click responds well.
- the function key layout is friendly, takes some time to get used to though.
- beautiful design.
- it comes with a free 4gb xbox 360 ($199.99) if you sign up for one free year of amazon prime (students). offer may not last.
- left and right click buttons may attract fingerprints.
- the vents on the left may get a bit hot if you make your laptop work (watching a movie, etc.), but it's not searing hot.
- backlit keys would have been amazing on this laptop, but i digress.
- lots of bloatware. took less than half an hour to remove it all though.
- HDD at 5400rpm could be better, but a simple 7200rpm replacement or SSD would make this laptop unstoppable. i'm waiting for the prices to drop on the SSD's.
- didn't come with pizza.
if you're looking for something portable but powerful, look no further. this laptop is amazing and perfect, for me at least. i browsed for at least 5 hours trying to find the perfect laptop, and i think i did. i can't comment on its durability, but i hope for the best.
another important note: i noticed that the speakers did sound "tinny" as some people have stated, and it still sounded pretty empty when i plugged in my speakers. i did what one reviewer said about uninstalling realtek drivers* and using microsoft's default drivers, and it worked like a charm. as paula abdul would say, "it sounds one billion percent better."
*on windows 7,
1. right click on the volume icon on the taskbar and click "playback devices."
2. select "speakers" and click "properties" on the bottom right of the window.
3. on the "controller information" box, click "properties."
4. click "change settings" on the bottom left.
5. click on the "drivers" tab and click "uninstall."
6. restart will be prompted.
7. when restart is complete, windows will automatically find the default sound drivers (internet connection required).
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