In the past, some of Toshiba's ultra-portables have looked rather dull, but the company is looking to change all that with the Satellite R630. This laptop not only has a gorgeously slim design but, as the chassis is hewn from magnesium alloy, it's very light, too. You can buy it for around £700 online.
Supermodel-slim with Scrabble keys
The R630 is certainly a sexy machine. The magnesium alloy chassis feels remarkably well built and should easily stand up to the bumps, knocks and scrapes it's likely to suffer on the road. The black and silver paint job looks suitably professional and, at a mere 26mm thick, Toshiba has managed to keep it impressively slim for a machine that packs in a DVD writer. The magnesium alloy chassis also helps the laptop remain very light, tipping the scales at just 1.4kg, so it's an ideal companion for frequent travellers.
Its screen may be small at 13.3 inches, but the R630 has a pretty decent resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. It provides just enough room to allow you to work on two documents side by side. As with most of today's consumer-oriented laptops, the display has a glossy TruBrite coating. This helps produce impressively punchy colours that make photos and videos stand out, but it's also a tad reflective, especially if you use it near a window where sunlight is streaming in.
Toshiba has followed the current keyboard trend of isolated, Scrabble-style keys. This is no bad thing, as not only does the keyboard look quite cool, the keys also have a fast action that makes it easy to rattle off emails and Word documents at a decent speed. The large trackpad is excellent -- its matte finish means your finger glides effortlessly across it and the two large trackpad buttons have a pleasing, springy action.
Good things come in small packages
Our review model was built around a quad-core Intel i5-450M processor that's clocked at 2.4GHz. It includes Intel's Turbo Boost technology that allows it to over-clock itself to 2.66GHz if it's faced with particularly heavy multitasking demands. The high-octane processor is helped along by 4GB of RAM, which gives the laptop's 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium plenty of space to strut its stuff. It's no real surprise, then, to find the machine packs a serious punch when it comes to performance.
In the PCMark05 benchmark test it managed to lodge a score of 5,732, which is very impressive for an ultra-portable. It shows it has the muscle to handle even more demanding applications, like HD video-editing, with ease. Ultra-portables are never much cop when it comes to gaming and the R630 is no different in this regard. It uses a lightweight GMA HD chip which only managed to push it to a score of 2,134 in 3DMark06. As a result, it's only really suitable for running older, less-demanding 3D games.
On the storage front, as well as the integrated DVD writer, there's a reasonably large 320GB hard drive that provides ample space for storing boring work documents alongside fun stuff like MP3s, movies and photos. Toshiba has added an SD card reader on the right-hand side of the laptop, which makes it easy to transfer pictures from a digital camera, for example.
The R630 has a wide range of ports, especially for such a small machine. Alongside three USB ports (one of which doubles as an eSata port), you also get both a VGA socket and an HDMI port. The latter makes it easy to connect the laptop to a high-definition TV, as both video and audio are carried over the same connection. Naturally, the R630 has Gigabit Ethernet and 801.11n Wi-Fi on board. Toshiba has also added Bluetooth support, too.
A thin and light ultra-portable such as this is likely to be used on the move, away from a mains socket, so battery life is crucial. Thankfully, the R630 puts in a rather good performance here. In our Battery Eater test, it managed to keep running for an hour and 29 minutes. This test places a heavy, constant load on the processor, so under normal conditions you should get at least twice as long, if not longer, from the battery.
The Toshiba Satellite R630 is a top-class ultra-portable. It looks fantastic, has great performance and impressive battery life. If you're looking for a powerful machine to use on the move, it's an excellent option.
Edited by Emma Bayly