Toshiba's Portégé R705 13.3" Ultraportable Notebook

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User Experience

As you may have gathered from our prior page discussing the design and build quality, we had a pretty good first impression of the Portégé R705. Carrying it around was a cinch; the lightweight 3.2lb. chassis wasn't a burden at all, particularly when you get a dual-layer DVD burner in there. Generally speaking, we enjoyed both its typing and mousing experience. The spill-resistant keyboard is definitely different than the chiclet keyboards out there, but after an hour or so we were typing away at normal speed. We should mention that each top of each key is a little slick; there's no texture at all, so your fingers can slide from one to the other. We learned to like it, but it was certainly a unique sensation at first. We didn't feel as if the keys were cramped at all, and none of them were oddly placed or shortened.

The trackpad deserves a lot of credit. For one, there's a dedicated button just above it that turns it off. This is highly useful if you use a Bluetooth or USB travel mouse and would prefer to disable the trackpad so no accidents take place if your hand brushes across the trackpad en route to the keyboard. Second, it's a fairly large pad. There's a slick, smooth feel to it, and it felt very spacious for an ultraportable. We really felt as if we had lots of room to maneuver, and that's rare for a 13.3" machine. Also, there are dedicated left/right click buttons beneath it, which are far superior to the single bar that keeps popping up everywhere else. These buttons had a great amount of travel, with a definite "click" sounding with each press. Overall, it's a very nice mousing experience, with our only major gripe being the limited multi-touch; rather than being able to actively use a two-finger scroll, we were generally forced to use the scroll bar. It's available as an option, but doesn't work so well. Pinch-to-zoom on maps worked just fine, though.

As for performance? There are hardly any complaints to find here. Bootup was as quick as it gets for an ultraportable, and it awoke from sleep instantly. Multi-tasking was never an issue, with the only real lag being the first loads of heavier applications. That's likely due to the relatively sluggish 5400RPM hard drive; this machine is a perfect candidate for an SSD infusion. Pop an SSD into this machine, and it'd be as quick as you'd need for quite some time to come. But even as-is, the machine was very snappy. New tabs loaded on Chrome on command, and we rarely ever found ourselves waiting around for the machine to catch up to our demands. Even loading maps in our gaming tests, we were impressed with just how quickly everything came together.

The Core i5-460M is a potent processor, no doubt, and while the integrated Intel HD graphics won't be anything to write home about, being paired with a great CPU and 4GB of DDR3 memory helps out tremendously. For the vast majority of basic, Office-related tasks that would be accomplished on this machine, it's more than capable. Even multi-media playback was a breeze; 1080p video clips loaded and started playing back in an instant, placing less than 10% strain on the machine, with only Intel's integrated graphics at the helm.  Wi-Fi performance was also fantastic, and Toshiba's subtle top-bar along the top edge of the Windows 7 screen (which can be enabled and pulled down with a simple keystroke) really kept common features nearby; things like screen brightness, wireless on/off, etc. Very nice touch, and best of all, it didn't seem to lag or be a drain on the machine. Our only major complaint with the software (a 64-bit copy of Windows 7 Home Premium is included) is the Norton bloatware that was loaded on. It tries to register and activate each and every time you bootup, so you'll either want to commit to it or uninstall it right away.

Surprisingly, even high-def multi-media and gaming tests were handled with relative poise. You'll see exactly what we mean in the benchmarks to come, but suffice it to say, we were really impressed with what the R705 managed to accomplish with a 5400RPM hard drive and its integrated graphics.

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