The Portégé R830 is a superb machine with plenty of power and a generous spec. However, it is expensive and some aspects of the software are irritating to use.
Light and thin, incredibly powerful, good keyboard, plenty of sockets and peripheral options
Nagging software and notices, expensive
£ 1,600 (ex VAT)
Intel Core i7-2620M 2.7GHz (Turbo boost to 3.4GHz), 128 GB SSD, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit, 8GB DDR3 RAM (2x4GB), Intel HD Graphics 3000, lithium-ion, 6 cell battery, Wireless LAN (802.11a/b/g/N), 316.0 x 227.0 x 18.3mm, 1.48kg
Toshiba's Portégé range is aimed at high-level business users who need both portability and massive power. Our review sample R830-10Q came with a pretty staggering 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i7 processor running at 2.7GHz.
At £1,600 (ex VAT), this is not a cheap machine. It does have high-end components though, and it's a machine powerful enough to last for many years before needing to be replaced. However, the differences between this machine and the cheaper Tecra R840 are pretty slender, and we do find ourselves wondering if it's worth the extra outlay.
Keyboard and trackpad
The R830's keyboard is a likeable piece of plastic. It's island keys make typing pleasant, and the layout is decent too, with large buttons making even larger fingers feel at home. It's helpfully backed up by some software that allows the function keys to show on screen when you press the function key.
While the keyboard is a highlight, we can't really take to the trackpad. The buttons seem stiff and hard to press to us and the trackpad doesn't feel quite as responsive as we'd like. It's not dreadful, but it's far from the best we've used.
Curiously, Toshiba doesn't include a TrackPoint device either. This is a shame, as it's popular with some users, and a good alternative to the traditional trackpad.
The LED backlit 13.3in LCD display is excellent, which is great news. The matt surface means that light reflections are kept to a minimum, making it great if you need to use the laptop outside, or in other bright environments. The 1366 x 768 resolution is also great for working and, although the screen is reasonably small, the high resolution makes it comfortable to use.
Our Portégé came equipped with a 128GB SSD, the top of the range. If you prefer capacity over the speed and power efficiency of a solid state drive, then you can also chose a more traditional hard drive. These are available in capacities of 320 and 500GB.
Boot time was good, although not exceptional We could get the machine to boot from cold in around 30 seconds. Compare this to the Samsung Series 9 machine we looked at recently, at 15 seconds to boot, and it starts to look sluggish. It isn't though, and we are more than happy with the R830's boot time.
Of the 128GB storage, you can only store files on 67.2GB on our test sample. The rest is consumed with Toshiba's back-up partition and the Windows installation. On a larger, disk-based drive, we might not feel too badly about losing so much space, but it's slightly irritating on a small SSD.
On the plus side, we've never had such good extra options for storage. The R830 has an SD card slot, which is mounted on the right-hand side of the laptop, near the surface. There is also an eSATA port too, which is shared with a USB socket. This particular USB is able to charge your devices too, even when the PC is off. There's another pair of dedicated USB sockets too, one on the left and one on the right. The right-hand side is USB 3.0 too, which is very handy for fast, portable storage devices.
A headphone and microphone socket round off the connectors on the right, with a DVD drive that can read and write most common formats.
Toshiba has to be congratulated for offering some of the most flexible outputs for video. There is the old-fashioned but ubiquitous VGA output for connecting to projectors and most monitors. The company also includes an HDMI socket too, which is useful for new monitors or connecting the laptop to a TV, something that is becoming more common in offices, with large LCD panels becoming cheaper and more numerous.