Toshiba's Portégé R705 13.3" Ultraportable Notebook

Article Index

Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: In our tests, the Toshiba Portégé R705 stacked up nicely against the competition.  In our general desktop workloads, as well as gaming/multi-media benchmarks, it was shining even brighter. Our $929.99 configuration managed to beat our expectations from a performance standpoint, with even the Intel HD integrated graphics core performing better than expected, all things considered. On a 13.3" ultraportable that's as mobile as this machine, you generally don't expect to do a lot multimedia muscle. Sure, an Optimus GPU setup would've been ideal, but it would have definitely boosted the price. And for our use, the IGP did just fine. Even 1080p video played back without a hitch, and yesteryear's best gaming titles were perfectly smooth and playable at a modest 1280x720 screen resolution. The 2.53GHz Core i5-460M is definitely owed a great deal of credit for the overall performance, and even with a relatively sluggish 5400RPM hard drive under the hood, we didn't find ourselves waiting around for the R705 to catch up with our demands.

Toshiba's design team has really nailed the execution here. Finally, an ultraportable manufacturer has thought outside of the box. The magnesium alloy blue color scheme lets you know that this isn't "just another ultraportable" from the first glance. Underneath the lid, the spill-resistant keyboard provides an enjoyable typing experience, not to mention a level of insurance rarely found on ultraportables that aren't designated as "rugged." The trackpad is also one of the best available on any 13.3" PC notebook, and the fact that a dual-layer DVD writer is shoved into an enclosure this small is a real testament to the time put into the Portégé R705's mechanical design.

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As for gripes, the machine is definitely amongst the loudest and warmest in the category, but again, that's the tradeoff for such a potent CPU. The 3 - 3.5 hour battery life (under moderate graphics strain) was also a bit of a letdown, particularly when you consider that Toshiba says you can squeeze up to eight hours out of the 6-cell Li-ion. Of course, we also wish these USB 2.0 ports were USB 3.0 ports, and as 2011 ushers itself in, not upgrading to SuperSpeed is becoming less and less acceptable for PC makers. At least an eSATA port that doubles as a Sleep-and-Charge USB 2.0 port is included, though. The glossy, LED-backlit display was also a bit lack-luster; looking directly on, the colors were vibrant and crisp, but the viewing angles from any direction weren't world-class. This is a screen that really requires you direct attention, and isn't great for letting a crowd of friends gather around for a look at a comical YouTube clip.

Those complaints aside, the Portégé R705 offers a very compelling value. We were just floored with how snappy it felt for just $929.99. That's a great price on a 13.3" ultraportable, particularly one that is as light (3.2lbs.) as this one, includes an optical drive (a dual-layer DVD writer in this case) and offers such fantastic performance in the multi-media and multi-tasking areas. Light-duty gaming is definitely a possibility, even with the IGP, so long as you tone down the details and don't try to play today's latest and most demanding titles. Half-Life 2 and Quake Wars were both perfectly playable in our testing. If you need the addition of WiDi, there's a slightly more expensive bundle of this machine available, and there are also a couple of models that are cheaper with a Core i3 CPU in place of the Core i5. Overall, it's hard to not recommend the R705 if you're in the market for a 13.3" ultraportable. This notebook manages to hit the sweet spots, and the attention to detail that Toshiba offered up with the Portégé R705 makes this an Editor's Choice.

  • Great overall performance
  • Unique, refreshing design
  • Includes DVD burner
  • Spill-Resistant keyboard
  • Great value

  • LCD glare and viewing angle
  • Gets warm & slightly noisy in use
  • No USB 3.0
  • 5400RPM Hard Drive
  • Lackluster battery life

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