If you want the portability of an Ultrabook, but don't want to forsake features such as an optical drive and expansion ports, Toshiba's Portege R930 may just be your ticket to portable computing nirvana.
Toshiba has been a long time player in the ultraportable market with their Portege product line. Once thought of as executive jewelry, the Portage has come down in price and has added features making it an ultraportable that can supplant Ultrabooks in many use cases. However, Ultrabooks and Ultraportables differ in several areas, first of which being the inclusion of an optical drive, at least in Toshiba's case with the R930, which incorporates an integrated DVD-RW drive. Other differences include thickness and battery life; the R930 is thicker than the ultra-slim Ultrabooks and consumes the battery more quickly when used for high performance computing.
Build and Design
Throughout its history, Toshiba's Portege line has had the distinction of cramming an impressive array of computing capabilities into a diminutive package. However, the ultraportable market has become much more crowded thanks to the addition of Ultrabook computers. What sets the R930 apart from typical Ultrabooks is the inclusion of advanced features such as an optical drive and a plethora of ports. In short, the 13-inch R930 fits the bill of an Ultraportable, much like a traditional notebook, but scaled down in size, and should not be confused with an Ultrabook.
The R930 shares the same chassis as its predecessor, the R830. However, the R930 has been updated to work with Intel's third generation Ivy Bridge processors and incorporates the latest Intel graphics, the HD 4000 chipset, which boasts performance levels that approach discrete graphics processors. All of that is crammed into a Magnesium alloy casing that weighs a little more than 3.3 pounds and measures 1.05 inches thick, 8.93 inches deep and 12.44 inches wide.
The screen is housed in a magnesium alloy lid which helps to keep it safe and is attached to the main chassis via two metal hinges that hint at durability. We wouldn't call the Portege R930 as rugged as an HP Elitebook or Dell Latitude but the magnesium alloy construction should hold up to typical use and abuse around the office as long as the road warrior using it doesn't get carried away.
Ports and Features
As previously mentioned, one of the biggest differences between an Ultrabook and a business ultrabortable like the Toshiba Portege R930 is the array of ports. First of all, you get a standard DVD-RW optical drive (something few Ultrabooks have). If that isn't enough, Toshiba also includes a full-size ExpressCard/54 expansion slot (which helps make this laptop more "future proof" since you can add new ports later) as well as a dedicated docking station port located on the bottom of the notebook in case you need to use the R930 as a desktop replacement.
All port descriptions listed below are shown from left to right.
Left: AC power jack, VGA, USB 3.0, USB 2.0/eSATA, HDMI
Right: Optical drive, SD card slot, ExpressCard/54 slot, headphone jack, microphone jack, USB 3.0, Ethernet
Screen and Speakers
The 13.3-inch display is bright and sharp, but with a resolution of 1366 x 768 there is a shortage of screen real-estate. The limited resolution makes it difficult to multitask with multiple document windows open at the same time.
Two small stereo speakers located at the top of the keyboard provide adequate sound, but won't win any praise from audiophiles. The R930 is whisper quiet, with only a barely perceivable hum coming from a small cooling fan located inside the unit. Thanks to the SSD, there is no drive noise as well. When plugged in on AC power and performing processor intensive tasks, the bottom of the R930 gets warm, but not so warm that it is uncomfortable on your lap. We used a thermometer to measure the hottest spot (near the processor heat sink) at a temperature of 114 degrees Fahrenheit (45.5 degrees Celsius).
Keyboard and Touchpad
The chiclet-style or island-style keyboard is responsive and easy to use, with good key travel and adequate spacing. Business users will be happy to see there are dedicated keys for Home, End, Page Up and Page Down all located in a row above the arrow keys. You'll also find dedicated buttons for Toshiba's eco mode (for extending battery life) and switching the display output from the built-in screen to an external monitor or projector.
The touchpad on the R930 is big with a smooth, matte surface providing good traction for fingertips. The two dedicated touchpad buttons have a metallic finish and a smooth texture. A dedicated touchpad on/off switch is located right above the touchpad, allowing heavy typers to shut off the touch pad so they don't move the pointer around unintentionally with their palms. That touchpad switch is also handy for people who want to use an external mouse.
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