Business users who want to travel light should take a good look at the Toshiba Portege R835-P88. This notebook packs the power of a Core i5 processor, long battery life and face recognition software into a lightweight 3.2-pound frame, all for $849. Travelers will also appreciate the system's durable magnesium alloy design. But does this laptop represent enough of a bargain compared with even lighter Ultrabooks?
Click to Enlarge
The Portege R835-P88 has a rather spartan look. Its blue magnesium alloy casing is dark but handsome. Horizontal striations along the lid offer a slight flourish along with the chrome Toshiba logo in the center. It's sleek, but some may prefer the Dell Vostro's V131 more eye-catching red aluminum chassis.
The R835's interior is made of black magnesium alloy. A fairly large keyboard sits in a recessed portion of the deck. A black chrome power button, two small square speakers, the Eco Utility button and Intel Wireless Display button sit above the keyboard. Other design highlights include chrome hinges and mouse buttons, along with a myriad of status lights below the touchpad.
At 3.2 pounds, the R835-P88 is lighter than both the ASUS U36SD-A1 and the Dell Vostro V131 (3.6 and 4 pounds, respectively). However, the R853-P88 seems positively chunky next to the 2.4-pound Toshiba Portege Z835 ultrabook. Compared with its competitors, the Portege R835-P88 is a bit thick at 12.4 x 8.9 x 0.7/1.1-inches. The US36SD-A1 and the Vostro V131 have a thickness of 0.8 inches, while the Portege Z835 cuts the slimmest figure at 12.4 x 8.9 x 0.3/0.6 inches.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Click to Enlarge
Since the R835's spill-resistant keyboard sits between the battery and the large touchpad, the keys are more squashed than on other keyboards. It's not that big of a deal with most of the keys, but the space bar, Enter, and Shift keys felt somewhat unsubstantial. Typing as a whole wasn't the most pleasant experience; the keys felt mushy and lack backlighting.
We loved the spacious 3.26 x 2-inch Synaptic touchpad. Our fingers glided effortlessly over the matte black surface. Multitouch gestures such as pinch-zoom, two-finger scroll and rotate and three-finger press and rotate were quick and accurate. The two discrete mouse buttons delivered the firm, springy feedback we wished we could have felt in the keyboard.
Display and Audio
Click to Enlarge
At 170 lux, the Toshiba Portege R835's 13.3-inch 1366 x 768p display isn't the brightest. In fact, it's 64 lux below the ultraportable category average. However, the glossy display delivered deep vibrant color. When we watched the 1080p YouTube trailer of "Mirror Mirror," we enjoyed the rich gold of the castle spires, as well as the deep blues, greens, reds, and violets in the party guests' attire as they twirled across the dance floor. While the colors were captivating, we noticed some graininess during darker scenes. Horizontal viewng angles were rather shallow: at 45 degrees to either side, images became dark and difficult to distinguish.
Don't underestimate the R835-P55's pair of diminutive speakers. They easily filled our small testing room with loud, clear audio. While we noticed a hint of flatness in Beyonce's "Girl (Run The World)" video and the lack of bass, dialogue in the "Mirror Mirror" trailer was loud, crisp and clear.
After 15 minutes of running a full-screen Hulu video, the touchpad, space between the G and H keys and the underside of the laptop registered a cool 79, 82, and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. That's far below the 95 degree threshold that we consider uncomfortable.
The right side of the R835 features a USB 3.0 port, a tray-loading DVD drive, Gigabit Ethernet and jacks for headphones and a microphone. A security lock slot sits in the right chrome hinge while a 3-in-1 card reader sits directly above the optical drive. A USB 2.0 port, an eSATA/USB 2.0 port with Sleep-and-Charge capability, HDMI, VGA and a power jack reside on the notebook's left.
Webcam and Face Recognition
Click to Enlarge
The R835's webcam captures stills and video in 1280 x 720 with the Toshiba Web Camera Application. Under florescent lighting, our skin tone and bright red jacket appeared washed out. There was also a noticeable yellow tinge. When we snapped a few images in natural lighting, colors were brighter with better color accuracy. In both cases, however, there was a noticeable amount of graininess.
Toshiba also includes its Face Recognition utility. Quick and fairly easy to set up, it took only 2 minutes for the software to scan our faces and register our image. From there, it took the system 5 seconds to scan our face and unlock the notebook during start up.
Click to Enlarge
The Toshiba Portege R835-P55 delivered mostly solid performance in our testing, thanks to its 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-2450M CPU with 6 GB of RAM, 640GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and Mobile Intel HD Graphics We played "Bubble Blaster" smoothly in Google Chrome despite having 8 windows open in Chrome and Internet Explorer.
During the PCMark07 Benchmark, the R835-P88 scored 2,278, just missing the 2,486 ultraportable average. It was enough to beat the ASUS AU36SD-A1 (1,746), as well as the Dell Vostro V131 (2,423), both of which have a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-2410M CPU. The Toshiba Z835, which has a 1.4-GHz Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM, but a 128GB SSD, scored 2,498.
The R835-P88's 640GB 5,400-rpm hard drive booted the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium in 60 seconds, 11 seconds slower than the category average. A 4.97GB folder of multimedia files duplicated in 5 minutes and 9 seconds, a transfer rate of 16.5 MBps. That's far below the 48 MBps ultraportable average.
The notebook redeemed itself on our Spreadsheet test, taking 5 minutes and 16 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. That's much faster than the 9:41 average, as well as the Z835's time of 11:36.
You'll be able to go questing in "World of Warcraft" with the Toshiba Portege R835-P88's Mobile Intel HD graphics, but anything more graphically taxing is pretty much out of the question.
On 3DMark06, the R835-P88 scored 4,533. That's 1,145 points above the 3,388 ultraportable average. However, it wasn't enough to best the Vostro V131 and its Intel HD 3000 Graphics, which notched 4,622. The U36SD-A1 and its Nvidia GeForce GT 520M GPU with 1GB and Optimus technology was the clear winner, scoring 5,346.
During our "World of Warcraft" testing, the Portege R835-P88 delivered a frame rate of 37 fps on Good at 1366 x 768, slightly above the 33 fps category average. The Dell Vostro V131 notched 40 fps while the ASUS U36SD-A1 scored an impressive 59 fps.
Click to Enlarge
During the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi), the Toshiba Portege R835-P88 lasted 7 hours and 35 minutes. That's 50 minutes longer than the 6:45 ultraportable category average and the Z835 (6:48). The ASUS U36SD-A1 lasted slightly longer, at 7:50, while the Dell Vostro V131 notched 6:12.
Toshiba keeps things pretty light on the software front. Toshiba ReelTime organizes recently opened programs (documents, video, websites and images) into a visual timeline along the bottom of the page. Other utilities include Toshiba Bulletin Board, Assist, PC Health Monitor, eco Utility and Sleep Utility, which allowed us to configure settings for the Sleep and Charge USB port. Web portals for the Blio-powered Toshiba Book Place and Toshiba App Place are also included.
Third-party apps include Skype, Google Chrome, Windows Live, Microsoft Office Starter and a 30-day free trial of Norton Internet Security 2012.
Configurations and Support
Toshiba offers a plethora of configurations for the R835. Our $849 review unit features a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2450M CPU with 6 GB of RAM, 640GB 5,400-rpm hard drive and Mobile Intel HD Graphics with shared memory. The $799 base model, the Portege R835-P92, has the same processor and hard drive, but just 4GB of RAM. The $899 model (Portege R835-P83) has identical specs to our review unit, but with a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-2435M processor.
The Toshiba Portege R835-P88 comes with a standard limited warranty of 1-year Parts and Labor, 1-Year Battery. See how Toshiba fared in our Best and Worst Brands 2012 report.
Frequent travelers and business users searching for a highly portable notebook with Core i5 power should consider the $849 Toshiba Portege R835-P88. For their money, consumers will get a notebook that can multitask and easily switch from work to play. Consumers looking for a slimmer, lighter option should consider the $899 Toshiba Portege Z835, which weighs just 2.4 pounds and has a 128GB SSD, but lacks an optical drive and gets less battery life. Road warriors who don't mind a little extra bulk will find the Toshiba Portege R835-P88 a solid choice.