Review: Toshiba Portege R30

This Toshiba laptop seems like a throwback to the era before ultrabooks emerged.

Notebooks then were often workhorses loaded with features. Even the slim, ultraportable models - Sony's Vaio series comes to mind - tried to pack in every possible feature, including some which are often regarded as dispensable now, such as Ethernet and optical drives. Feature-packed laptops are still around, although they are limited to mostly business models. The Portege R30 not only includes an optical drive, but also a removable battery and a generous selection of ports and connectors.

Its business-friendly features include a security chip to encrypt your data, a fingerprint reader, as well as a port replicator, which connects the laptop to an optional dock.

While such features end up making this laptop thicker than most ultrabooks, the weight is a reasonable 1.52kg, thanks to a lightweight magnesium chassis.

The 1,366 x 768-pixel screen is fairly standard for a 13.3-inch business laptop. This is not an IPS display, which means that viewing angles from the sides are merely decent. Unsurprisingly for a laptop running Windows 7 Professional, there is no touchscreen option. However, Toshiba does offer a Windows 8 version.

The individual keys are too short for my liking and the extent of key travel is limited. As is the norm for a business laptop, the R30 has a pointing stick with two mouse buttons above the standard touchpad. Being fairly thin, they are difficult to press accurately.

Just below the touchpad is a strip of metal with the fingerprint reader and the power and hard-drive LED indicators. This awkward design, unfortunately, also appears on other Toshiba laptops.

My finger often tapped on this metal strip while trying to click on the touchpad, which is annoying. However, scrolling horizontally or vertically with two fingers on the touchpad was pleasantly smooth.

Inside is a more capable and power-hungry Intel Core i7 processor than the low-power chips found in ultrabooks. On paper, the R30 has plenty of computing power for a laptop, although this may not be evident to an office worker, unless he happens to be crunching a large spreadsheet.

The laptop could be more responsive if its standard hard drive is replaced with a speedy solid-state drive. But understandably, Toshiba has gone for the ample storage capacity of a hard drive. Battery life is excellent. The R30 lasted 7hr 49min in our video-loop battery test. Most users will get about a day's use from it.

It comes with a three-year international warranty.

A solid business laptop which is long on battery life and features, but falls slightly below the mark because of an awkward touchpad and pointing stick.

This article was published on May 7 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.

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