The Bottom Line
Oct 3 2011 - For those that want a full features compact laptop but don't want to spend a fortune, the Toshiba Portege R835-P56X is a very attractive option. At just $800, it is hundreds less than much of the competition while also weighing a good deal less. It offers solid performance and excellent storage features as well. There are a few quirks with it though including a keyboard that could use improvement and a display with some narrow viewing angles. Still, these are fairly minor issues for many buyers.
- Large Hard Drive With DVD Burner
- USB 3.0 and eSATA Ports
- Narrow Viewing Angles On Display
- Keyboard On The Smaller Side With A Few Quirks
- Intel Core i5-2410M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 640GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 3000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, eSATA (shared), HDMI, VGA, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.4" x 9" x 1" @ 3.2 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, Norton Internet Security
Review - Toshiba Portege R835-P56X
Oct 3 2011 - Toshiba's Portege R series has been a very nice choice for those looking at a full featured compact laptop. Their latest version, the R835, continues the compact and lightweight design while keeping the costs very affordable. At $800, the R835-P56X is certainly much more affordable then the similarly designed Apple MacBook Pro 13 and Sony VAIO S series laptops. Where it differs from these two is the construction and weight. It uses a magnesium frame that is accented by plastic. This means that it isn't as sturdy feeling but it also has a surprisingly light at 3.2 lbs. which is well below Apple's MacBook Pro 13 and even lighter than Sony's VAIO S.
The big upgrade between the Portege R835 and the previous R700 series is the switch in processors. The R835 uses the newer second generation Core i processors which offers a number of improvements particularly with performance. The Core i5-2410M dual core processor offers a good balance for performance and power usage. With the 4GB of DDR3 memory, it should be able to handle the majority of computing tasks without much problem. Only the most demanding tasks such as desktop video will really challenge it and this more from memory than the processor.
Storage features are excellent for the Toshiba Portege R835. Unlike the majority of ultraportable laptops that are dropping an optical drive, the R835-P56X comes equipped with a standard dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media. In addition to this, it offers a very large 640GB hard drive that provides roughly thirty percent more space for applications data and media files. The drive does spin at the more traditional 5400rpm spin rate so it does lack performance compared to faster 7200rpm drives or newer solid state drives. If that isn't enough space for you, Toshiba also offers you a choice of high speed peripheral ports with both the new USB 3.0 and an eSATA port.
The display remains pretty much unchanged from the past Portege R700 model. The 13.3-inch size and the 1366x768 resolution are fairly typical. Color and brightness are acceptable, but the viewing angles are fairly poor particularly on the vertical. Generally, one needs to tilt the screen back slightly to prevent the color from being washed out. The graphics rely on the Intel HD Graphics 3000 that are integrated on the Core i5 processor. These are a step up from past Intel graphics but they still lack any real acceleration for 3D applications such as games. What it does provide though is the ability to boost media encoding with QuickSync compatible applications. Also built into the system is Intel's WiDi 2.0 for use with a wireless display adapters.
The keyboard for the Portege R835 uses a standard isolated keyboard layout that is found on many systems. While these generally work pretty well, there are a number of minor issues that prevent it from being an excellent keyboard. First, the keyboard is a bit smaller than typical 13-inch laptop models in order to fit the larger capacity battery. Second, Toshiba has placed the Home key block on the right hand of the keyboard which can take some time to get used to. Finally, the keyboard feedback is a bit off which is tough to fully descirbe. The trackpad isn't as large as some other 13-inch laptops such as the Sony VAIO S, but it is accurate. The dedicated left and right mouse buttons are also well appreciated.
Toshiba uses a fairly high capacity battery pack for such a small system as the Portege R835. The six cell pack features a 66WHr capacity rating that is roughly ten percent more than the Apple MacBook Air 13 which tends to dominate the running time tests. In DVD playback tests, the laptop was able to run for four an a half hours before going into standby mode. This falls short of Apple's offering by roughly thirty minutes but is still much very good for the amount of features included on the laptop. More typical usage should yield a couple extra hours more.