The Bottom Line
Sep 18 2012 - For anyone that wants an extremely lightweight system but doesn't want to sacrifice having an internal DVD drive, the Toshiba Portege R935 is an excellent choice with its 3.2 pounds weight and one inch profile. In fact, even with its more demanding internal components, its battery life is better than a number of new ultrabooks that typically cost more that its roughly $800 street price. Now, there are some drawbacks to the lighter weight including a body that doesn't feel quite as sturdy as the competition and a keyboard that isn't quite as good. For many though, these may be very minor issues.
- Long Battery Life
- Very Lightweight For A 13-inch Laptop With DVD
- USB 3.0 and eSATA Ports
- Does Not Feel As Sturdy As Competing Systems
- Narrow Viewing Angles On Display
- Keyboard Has A Few Quirks
- Intel Core i5-3210M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, One 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
Review - Toshiba Portege R935-P330
Sep 18 2012 - Toshiba's Portege R935 is essentially an updated version of the past Portege R835. The exterior and many features remain pretty much the same but the internals have been updated to Intel's latest Ivy Bridge platform. This is great in terms of the systems weight which is an incredibly light 3.2 pounds that is lighter than some of the new thin ultrabook systems. Of course, it is larger and uses a mix of magnesium and plastics that doesn't give it the same sturdiness found in the ultrabooks or other full featured laptops in the same size but that weigh more.
The new processor for the Portege R935-P330 is the Intel Core i5-3210M dual core processor. This is a fairly common processor for traditional laptops. It does a good job of balancing performance and price. This combined with 6GB of DDR3 memory provides it with a smooth overall experience in Windows and definitely is better at demanding tasks such as desktop video when compared to ultrabooks. Now, it still isn't going to compare to more expensive quad core processors but it is still more than powerful enough for the average computer user.
Storage features are one of the best aspects of the Toshiba Portege R935. For storage space, it uses a very large 750GB hard drive that provides it with plenty of space for applications, data and media files. This offers roughly fifty percent more storage space than many similarly priced systems. Performance from the drive is certainly sluggish compared to ultrabooks that use solid state drives or hybrid hard drives. It takes roughly forty-five seconds to boot up the system which is twice as fast as an ultrabook. If you do need additional space, the system gives you two USB 3.0 ports in addition to an eSATA port that lets it use more high speed storage peripherals that your typical 13-inch laptop. Unlike the majority of 13-inch ultrabooks, the laptop also includes a dual layer DVD burner for playback or recording of CD or DVD media.
One of the big drawbacks to the past of the past Portege R series models has been the display. This has not been updated with the R935 which is disappointing. The 13.3-inch display offers a standard 1366x768 native resolution. The big problem is the viewing angles are very narrow which makes it difficult to use without directly viewing or trying to share the display between multiple people. The graphics system has been upgraded to the Intel HD Graphics 4000 built into the new Core i5 processor. This gives it better 3D acceleration but it is still limited to only being useful for older PC games at lower resolution and detail levels. The media transcoding speeds have increased though which is great for those that might be using Quick Sync enabled programs.
Another aspect that could have used improvement was the keyboard. The isolated design is not all that different from what most laptops are using but there are a number of small things that prevent it from being above average. It still has the Del, Home, PgUp, PgDn and End keys on the right hand side which can throw off many touch typists. More importantly, the feel of the keyboard is still not as solid or comfortable as many others available on the market. The trackpad does make up for some of this with an accurate single and multitouch performance and dedicated buttons rather than integrated ones. There is also a small button between it and the spacebar for those that might want to turn it off if they are using an external mouse.
Even with the low overall weight for the Toshiba Portege R935, the laptop does manage to fit in a larger 66WHr capacity battery pack. Most laptops in this size range tend to have between 45 and 50WHr capacity batteries. In digital video playback tests, the system was able to run for an amazing five and a half hours. Now, this doesn't quite reach the same six hours that the Apple MacBook Pro 13 is able to achieve but still better than even many more power efficient ultrabooks that weight roughly the same.
In terms of the competition, there are fewer 13-inch laptops that feature a DVD burner. The closest options would be the Apple MacBook Pro 13, Lenovo IdeaPad Z380 and Sony VAIO S. The Apple is much more expensive but has better battery life, sturdier design and one of the best keyboards. Lenovo's option is less expensive but doesn't provide as much storage space or options but a better keyboard. Finally, the Sony is a bit more expensive with decent battery life but it has similar problems with its keyboard and smaller hard drive.