Remember the Toshiba Protege R600 that was introduced in 2008? It was one of the lightest notebooks we’ve ever laid our eyes on; and since then, it has topped our portability charts every single time. For the uninitiated, our portability score is derived using a mathematical formula, and it tells us if it’s worth our time to lug a machine around. The R600 had a very high score due to its super light weight (0.979kg!) and long battery life. While the latter has long since been overtaken by other notebooks, its portability score is still unbeatable, even till today.
And if you thought the R600 was good, the R700, introduced in 2010 was even better. It featured a bigger 13.3-inch screen, and beefed up specs (Core i3, i5 or i7 CPU). Today’s Toshiba R830 is almost the same, and it would be hard to discern any differences between then. But there's still plenty to like about this little machine, so let’s start with its exterior.
Our review unit has a bright red, matte piece of aluminum on the lid, and boy, are we enamored by it. It’s been forever since we saw something so bold on a true blue business machine, and we feel that Toshiba’s decision to allow users to choose something that represents their own style is a very good one. Machines that are sold in the market right now also come in a couple of other colors, namely blue and black.
In our hands, the R830 feels lighter than its 1.4kg spec suggests. It isn’t exactly the thinnest laptop we’ve seen this year, but somehow all that weight just seems to disappear when you are holding it, to the point that it sometimes felt hollow.
The hinges on the Portege R830 are also rock solid, and will keep your lid up no matter how many times you open or close it. Trust us, we tried. The rest of the machine is also covered in the same magnesium alloy, giving a really robust feel when you handle it. For power, it has a removable 6-cell lithium-ion battery.
But what’s really special about the Toshiba R830 is that unlike other ultra-thin and light machines, it actually has an optical drive built into it. Despite that, it still weighs only ever so slightly more than the 13.3-inch Apple MacBook Air (1.4kg versus 1.35kg).