Toshiba Portege R300 Review

by dexterneedsbrain Reads (37,057)

The Toshiba Portege R series is the slim line series from the company’s offering. The series started out with the R100 and has now spanned all the way to the Portege R400 tablet convertible. The Portege R300 is available in the Canadian market, it can be purchased via Toshiba.ca or found on retailers such as CDW.ca.

Product Description Toshiba Portege R300 – Core Duo U2500 1.2 GHz – 12.1" TFT
Dimensions (WxDxH) 9.4 in x 7.8 in x 1.3 in
Weight 2.6 lbs
Localization English / Canada
Built-in Devices Speaker, wireless LAN antenna, Bluetooth antenna
Embedded Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip , fingerprint reader
Processor Intel Core Duo U2500 / 1.2 GHz ULV ( Dual-Core )
Cache Memory 2 MB – L2 cache
RAM 1 GB (installed) / 1.25 GB (max) – DDR II SDRAM – 533 MHz ( 1 x 1 GB )
Card Reader Yes
Hard Drive 80 GB – 4200 rpm
Display 12.1" TFT active matrix 1280 x 800 ( WXGA ) – 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Graphics Controller Intel GMA 950
Telecom Fax / modem – 56 Kbps
Networking Network adapter – Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g
Wireless NIC Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
Input Device Keyboard, touchpad
Power AC 120/230 V ( 50/60 Hz )
Battery Lithium ion
Run Time (Up To) 5 hour(s)
Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Manufacturer Warranty 3 years warranty

 

The price as listed on the Toshiba.ca website is $2,299, which is about $2,080 U.S.

Out of Box

Out of the box you’ll notice the Portege R300 is a really small laptop that unfortunately comes with no recovery CD’s (which is common with Toshiba). About the only thing you do get is a Certificate of Authority for Microsoft OneNote 2003 and an A/C adapter.


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Design and Build

The R300 laptop build is mostly made of plastic, it almost feels lighter than the accompanying A/C adapter. To be honest, it felt more like a plastic portfolio box than an actual gadget.


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The power switch is located on the front side of the laptop. There is also an optional ‘lock’ to lock the power button and prevent an accidental push of the power — which makes you wonder why they put the power switch there in the first place if it’s so easy to bump. The power button is easy to use but feels soft, it is based on a self release mechanism so once you push the button to one side it pops back.  

The front side of the notebook has the most control options. As with the Tecra S4 series, the volume button is a push type instead of a dial type that you get with the R100 and R200 series. It takes some getting used to and might be a little annoying for some. There is only one speaker so you get mono instead of stereo sound, which is noticeable. However, the onboard audio (realtek) supports stereo sound so you can hook up some external speakers for better sound quality.


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The R300 has three USB ports in total with two on the left side and one on the right. The external VGA port is also seen on the left side. With the Toshiba R200/R100 the VGA port was on the back panel, which I found easier for connecting to a projector or a monitor. If you were to conenct a USB key or a mouse and network cable along with a monitor you will notice shortage of room on the left side. And if you are one of those poor souls who got the Targus VGA lock for securing your laptop…good luck.


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The back panel is plain empty and there is a reason for that. (see hinges below)


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The modem jack and an extra USB port are on the right side of the laptop along with the CPU heat sink. There is also a compact flash card reader on this side.


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The keyboard layout is pretty compact with no extra buttons on the keyboard area except for the finger print reader. The touchpad is sensitive and works well, however the buttons for the mouse did not depress as far or feel as nice as the R200/R100 series.


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There is some space after the touchpad in the R200 series while with the R300 the touchpad is almost at the edge.


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How does it compare to the R200?

The following pictures will compare the Portege R300 to its predecessor Toshiba Portege R200.

Overall size (R300 at the bottom):


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Length (R300 to the left)


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Thickness (R300 to the left)


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Thickness (R300 on top of R200)


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Side by side comparision (R300 has a slant while R200 is perfectly flat)


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The R200 is longer than R300 (which is on top), while the R300 is a WXGA screen notebook, thus wider than the standard size screen R200:


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On the back panel, look at the difference between the hinges. The R300 screen goes all the way to the end therefore the hinge design is much better than its predecessor. There is no unnecessary wobbling.  Also, look at the position of the various ports for easy plug-in and removal with the R200, it’s a shame the R300 moved all of these ports.


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Here is a small video showing the hinge responsiveness of the R300: Hinge response of the Toshiba Portege R300

Here’s a look at the screen size difference: the R300 is 12.1" while the R200 is 14.1"


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Battery Compartment for the R200:

In order to remove the battery from the back of the R300 you have to have three hands, there are two spring loaded locks and you have to "pop" the battery out while holding those two locks open — a tough chore.  On the R200 there is only one lock and the battery pops open. Also the R200 has an optional external battery attachement which extends the battery life, the R300 does not.


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The AC adapter is rated at 15V and 4 amp (which is same as the Toshiba R200)


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Ergonomics

Due to the increased thickness and an inclined base on the R300 there is a gap between the palm rest and the table. Due to the compactness of the keyboard your fingers occupy the entire keyboad area — after several minutes of typing I experienced some discomfort in typing. The R300 felt really small when used in the lap, make sure to keep your legs together, it’s a little tough to use the R300 if it’s balanced on one leg.


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Annoying HDD Protection

Although the R300 has less annoying junk software than you might get from a Dell consumer notebook, the built-in HDD protection was very sensitive and annoying. The sensor warning screen pops up almost every instance in which the laptop moves (even on a horizontal table).


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Benchmarks

Here are some benchmark results and more detailed specs for the R300

Basic information:


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Everest benchmark results

The entire result set produced by Everest home can be viewed by clicking here. It’s a detailed readout of the hardware components inside the R300.

3DMark 2006 results

3DMark 2006 measured the graphics performance of a PC. The score received on 3DMark06 was 148, which is almost off the charts low. We won’t compare to other laptops, the comparison is somewhat embarassing! Below is a screenshot of the result:


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The full result of the 3Dmark can be viewed here.

 

HDTune Benchmark Results

The hard drive is slow, and HDTune shows that:


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Conclusion

Although the Portege R300 is an unique slimline laptop, in its category it is not the top of the line. The Core Duo technology and 4200RPM hard drive make it less attractive. However, the design will definitely raise eyebrows and the 2-lbs of weight is an extreme advantage for mobility.

Pros

  • Small size and low weight
  • Attractive design
  • Control buttons at the front and AC adapter button to the side
  • Good battery life
  • Quiet running
  • Included 3 year warranty

Cons:

  • Slow Core Duo processor
  • Slow 4200RPM hard drive
  • Annoying HDD protection software, overly sensitive
  • No extra battery add on and a 9 cell battery pack costs twice the regular battery
  • Awkward position of the VGA port


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