Toshiba Portege R500 (PPR50A-07S05C)
One for the road
- Built-in 3G module, great battery life, very light, built-in optical drive, plenty of ports
- Gets noticeably warm, screen has narrow vertical viewing angle, hard drive was slow, touchpad is sticky
It's well-suited to road warriors thanks to its light weight and built-in 3G module, but it's still not the perfect laptop. If you're going to go for the R500, opt for a solid-state drive instead of a conventional hard drive.
Price$ 3,630.00 (AUD)
Working while on the road can be inconvenient if you have to lug around a 15in laptop that weighs 3kg or more, so an ultraportable is the best way to go. For a while now, Toshiba's Portege R500 has perhaps been the best ultraportable on the market for business users, mainly due to its very light weight, thin profile, long-lasting battery and generous array of features. With this new model, Toshiba has made it even better.
The R500 now comes with a built-in 3G module, which Toshiba has partnered with a Telstra BigPond data account, and it offers download speeds of up to 3 megabits per second (Mbps) if you're in a well-covered Next G area. The built-in module means there are no dangly bits, and all you have to do is insert a BigPond SIM card in the reader that's located in the battery compartment. The module isn't locked to BigPond accounts: Toshiba says that it will be able to support other carriers pending the carriers' approval.
Toshiba has also upped the processing power of the R500. This model comes with a 1.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7700 ultra low voltage CPU, compared to the 1.2GHz CPU we saw in the previous model, and it also has a conventional, 5400rpm hard drive. This drive is a double-edged sword of sorts, as it provides a huge amount of space (142GB of formatted space), but it also makes the unit run very hot, and it also means that if you drop the laptop, the hard drive may get damaged. For a business model, which will most likely be used for word processing, presentation creation and Web browsing, we think this drive is overkill.
The solid-state drive (SSD) we saw in the previous model is a better option if you are considering buying the R500. It will keep the R500's heat production to a minimum, and there will be less chance of data loss if the laptop is dropped. It will also reduce the laptop's overall weight slightly, and it will be faster. Indeed, we were a little surprised that the installed 5400rpm drive performed slower than the 64GB SSD drive; the 5400prm drive recorded an average transfer rate of 12.04 megabytes per second (MBps) in our tests. This is about 6MBps slower than the 18MBps rate of the SSD drive.
Using the laptop while out and about was a joy for the most part, as it has a conventional keyboard layout with big keys. However, its screen isn't the best we've seen. It's readable in bright, outdoor conditions, but its vertical viewing angle is narrow. When viewed from the top, there is a severe lack of contrast. This becomes an issue on public transport, where you can't place the screen very far in front of you and must look at it from a steep angle. Nevertheless, the thinness of the screen is very impressive (if it was any thinner it would be paper!), and it helps to keep down the overall weight of the unit.
Additionally, the amount of heat produced during use is bothersome, especially if you use the notebook on your lap. The left-side of the laptop's belly, where the hard drive and memory are both located, will produce noticeable heat. This heat will also travel up through the magnesium alloy chassis to the palm rest and keyboard, making it hot for your left hand, in particular, as well as your thighs.
As you can see, it's not all good for the R500 (we also think its touchpad is too sticky), but as we stated in the opening paragraph, it's still a wonderful laptop to take on the road. It weighs almost 1.1kg, and its battery will typically last close to four hours, if not more, depending on your usage pattern. Furthermore, it's a robust unit. Considering its light weight and thin frame, the R500 withstood a lot of bumps while being transported in a backpack, but its lid did get scratched. You'll definitely want to keep it covered if you're going to be tossing it into a backpack at the start of your day instead of a proper laptop bag.
The most impressive thing about the R500 is still its array of features. It has a built-in DVD burner, three USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n wireless networking, a D-Sub port, even a FireWire port! The SD card reader is convenient, and the rotational physical volume control is a welcomed addition, too. The only thing it lacks is a webcam, but making Skype video calls or video conferencing while on the road hasn't exactly become the norm yet.
Join the PC World newsletter!
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Huawei Mate 9
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® Portable SSD
Google Daydream VR headset
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
- 5 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
Latest News Articles
- Everything we think we know about Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3
- Lenovo's ThinkPad P71 will work with HTC, Oculus VR headsets
- Lenovo's Yoga A12 Android 2-in-1 has futuristic touch panel keyboard
- In PC comeback, ARM will battle Intel in Chromebooks and Windows 10
- Dell: Mainstream laptops with wireless charging are still years away
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- TPMobile DeveloperWA
- CCSenior Project Coordinator - Banking/Financial ServicesNSW
- TPScrum MasterVIC
- TPDesktop Support OfficerQLD
- FTSenior Full Stack .Net Developer - Internet of ThingsNSW
- TPTechnical ConsultantNSW
- FTScrum MasterQLD
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Sales & Marketing Modules)NSW
- CCWindows System EngineerNSW
- TPMaster SchedulerNSW
- CCIT Procurement OfficerNSW
- CCWicked Front-End DeveloperQLD
- CCIT Senior Business AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Positive Vetting, NV2 or NV1 required!!!!SA
- FTMonitoring Tools Support l NimSoft , SMARTS, ehealth, TivoliNSW
- FTSenior Full Stack .Net Developer with Strong SQL DevNSW
- TPTechnical WriterVIC
- FTConsultant Business AnalystQLD
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Supply Chain Modules)VIC
- FTSenior Dot Net Backend Orientated DeveloperNSW
- TPSolution Architect - IntegrationQLD
- TPProject Coordinator/Junior Project ManagerVIC
- CCData Engineer (Java/ Data/ Big Data Developer)VIC
- TPMid-Level Java DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Web DeveloperNSW