Toshiba's L730 is a small and light 13-inch laptop with a young and funky look that's likely to win it a lot of fans among students, especially as it's relatively affordable. Our configuration, the L730-10G, costs around £500.
With its 13-inch screen this model is fairly compact, although it's not the thinnest ultra portable we've come across, as it measures 37mm thick. The design is top class as the glossy lid and keyboard surround has an interesting diamond pattern stamped into it and there's beautiful detailing such as the elongated speaker grills. We also love the nicely curved edges and the contrasting black keyboard and touchpad buttons.
The laptop's 13.3-inch screen has a resolution of 1366x768 pixels, which is pretty standard for a machine in this price range. The display has a glossy rather than matte coating, so it is a bit reflective, but we didn’t find this all that distracting when using it in the office under bright overhead lights. It produces very bright and crisp images and colours are rich and vivid and the wide viewing angles that make it great for sharing a movie with a friend while travelling.
Unlike a lot of the laptops we see today, this model doesn’t have an isolated keyboard. Instead the keys are tightly packed together as they are on a traditional tapered style model. However, the keys that Toshiba has used are a bit flatter and a tad wider than usual, so your fingers don’t feel cramped when they've hovering above them. On the negative side, the keyboard flexes quite a bit in the centre, with the result that it doesn’t feel as solid as keyboards on some other 13-inch models we've used, such as the one on Samsung's Q330. We've got no such complaints about the trackpad, however. It is integrated seamlessly into the glossy wrist rest, but Toshiba has thankfully added a roughened texture to its surface which feels less sticky under your finger. The large buttons extend beyond the boundary of the pad and also feel solid and comfortable to use.
When it comes to ports, the right hand side of the L730 is home to single USB 2.0 socket as well as with the Ethernet socket and VGA output. The USB port is enabled for sleep and charge, so if you switch this feature on using a software control panel in Windows you can use it to charge mobile devices such as cameras and MP3 players even when the laptop is switched off. The left hand side houses a further two USB 2.0 ports along with the DVD writer and an SD card reader. Sadly there's no HDMI port, though.
Needs RAMping up
This model uses an Intel Core i3 380M processor. This is clocked at 2.53GHz and supported by 2GB of RAM, which is a little bit on the stingy side. Windows 7 performs much better with 3 to 4GB of RAM. Nevertheless, the laptop performed reasonably well in the PCMark06 benchmark test. It posted a score of 5,322 -- not bad considering the small amount of RAM available to it, but not as quick as the Acer TimelineX 4820T. Certainly it'll take care of day-to-day tasks like web browsing, watching videos on YouTube and updating Facebook without any problems.
The 380M chip is a pre-Sandy Bridge processor, so it doesn't include the faster integrated graphics that you'll find in Intel's latest chips. This was reflected in the 3DMark06 test where it posted a very poor result of just 1,641. Intel's latest graphics technology has around twice the 3D performance, in comparison. The upshot is that this laptop is not much cop at gaming, although its graphics prowess is fine for playing back HD videos and the like.
The L730 isn't a bad performer when it comes to battery life. In our Battery Eater test, which continually runs the processor at full whack to simulate an extremely heavy processing load, it managed to keep running for an hour and 47 minutes, which is pretty good for this class of machine. Bear in mind that under real world conditions you're likely to get much longer from it.
All in all, the L730 is a good looking machine that turns out to be a decent performer too. However, if you are thinking of making the purchase, we'd recommend you upgrade its RAM as soon as possible.
Edited by Jennifer Whitehead.