So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Toshiba Portege R400 (PPR40A-01000L)
- HSDPA 3G, OLED notification screen, lightweight and easy to use on both notebook and tablet PC modes
- No optical drive, does not support the full 7.2Mbps speeds of Telstra's Next G network, lacks ports
The Portege R400 was already a sleek and stylish design with some useful features, but the increased speed of HSDPA 3G makes it all the more appealing.
Price$ 3,800.00 (AUD)
Watch the video review here
It looks almost identical to its predecessor, the Toshiba Portege R400 (PPR40A-00H00L), but the latest Portege R400 hides one small feature that makes all the difference, a wireless 3G adapter. However, unlike previous notebooks we've tested with 3G capabilities, this hybrid notebook and Tablet PC has high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) support, allowing connections of up to 3.6Mbps.
With weight, noise and temperature at the forefront of this notebook's priorities it's no surprise to find an Intel U2500 1.2GHz ultra low voltage CPU installed. Ultra low voltage CPUs are not known for their power, but help keep things quiet, light and cool. Still, a full 2GB of DDR2 533MHz RAM is also installed, which helps this notebook run smoothly under Windows Vista Business Edition.
Although Telstra's Next G network supports HSDPA speeds up to 7.2Mbps, the Toshiba Portege does not have the capability for these speeds. However, our experience using the Internet with a 3.6Mbps connection around Sydney was fast and smooth. Downloads are fast and browsing is barely any different from a wired network. We managed to download from the NIVIDA Web site at an average of 247KBps which got our 31.8MB file downloaded in 2min 10sec. We also streamed YouTube video and some Internet radio without any problems. When back at the office you can always use the 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi card to access the Web, though there's no support for draft-n.
Unfortunately one of the four possible screen orientations, secondary portrait mode, will not allow you to use the 3G connectivity, most likely due to the position of the aerial. However, three out of four positions work very well.
Another neat feature of the Portege R400 is its mini-OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen on the front edge of the notebook. This thin sliver of a screen tells you the time and WAN signal strength, but also fills another role. The R400 can be set-up to automatically check your e-mail and calendar events and then display them in this screen, discreetly alerting you to an event or message during a meeting, or when the notebook is closed or even sleeping. It's a small gesture, but combining the 3G with this OLED display should help you keep tabs on a busy schedule.
If you take a moment to embrace the nerd inside you'll probably agree that the smooth white and piano black of the Portege R400 looks a lot like the interior of a Star Wars spaceship and is very easy on the eye. The screen is mounted on a rotating hinge that allows you to flip from notebook to Tablet mode with relative ease. Below the screen are several shortcuts for use in Tablet mode, including shortcuts to the Windows Task Manager, e-mail and the Windows Mobility Center.
The biometric fingerprint scanner has been placed for best use in Tablet mode, but is easily accessible in notebook mode as well. With a 12.1in screen (1280x800) and a weight of 1.7kg our review sample is very comfortable to hold, but saves weight by excluding an optical drive, so you'll need to purchase one of these separately if it's important to you. The heat exhaustion is cleverly placed so that it's only blowing at the user when in secondary portrait mode, the very same position that 3G won't function in. Every other position has you blissfully out of the path of hot air.
As a Tablet the screen is digitised, instead of using touch-screen technology, which ensures you'll get a good response from the pen. The screen also has a hardened layer over the top to protect the LCD panel from damage.
In our benchmarks there was no surprise at the slow results. In WorldBench 6 it scored a mere 46, so don't go planning on doing any video editing or other heavy duty tasks. On the other hand e-mailing, word processing and other everyday tasks will run smoothly. The primary 6-cell battery is rated up to six hours, but this will vary on usage.
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