Toshiba’s PC division tends to focus on the consumer market, employing the company’s decades of experience with audio and video technologies to produce attractive multimedia and entertainment systems for home users. However, it does produce a number of laptops that are designed with business users in mind, and its Portégé R30 provides good battery life and portability for frequent travellers.
Price & Performance
There are a number of models in the Portégé R30 range, although the differences between most of them are relatively minor. We reviewed the Portégé R30-A-14K model, which costs £750 (ex. VAT) with a Haswell i3 processor running at 2.4GHz, 4GB memory and 500GB hard disk. Our review unit was supplied with the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1, but there are also models available with Windows 7 Professional and Windows 8 Pro.
The i3 processor provides only modest performance, but should still be perfectly adequate for basic web browsing and running Microsoft Office. The integrated HD 4600 graphics processor is also capable of handling HD video for presentations work, or simply streaming video when you’re off-duty.
Most of the other models in the Portégé R30 range use the same i3 processor, and simply offer different amounts of storage or different versions of Windows. But if you do require greater performance then there is one model that includes an i5 processor – although that does increase the total price to a rather hefty £1070 (ex. VAT). It’s safe to say that the Portégé R30 is no mobile workstation – but, fortunately, its real strengths lie in other areas.
Design & Connectivity
The Portégé R30 makes a good first impression, with a lightweight magnesium chassis and smart matte-black finish. It’s sturdy enough to cope with the occasional bump when you’re on the road, and the hard drive includes additional internal padding to protect against shocks, as well as a vibration sensor that can lock the drive to prevent data loss in case of accidents. The Portégé R30 also supports TPM – trusted platform module – and drive encryption for extra data security.
The keyboard is firm and comfortable to use, although the keys are a little smaller than average – just 14mm from front to back edge – and might not suit users with less nimble-fingers. The Portégé R30 also includes both a trackpad and a separate pointer device that is located on the main keyboard.
It’s well connected, with Gigabit Ethernet for office networks, along with high-speed 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. There are HDMI and VGA interfaces for connecting a larger monitor, along with Intel’s WiDi for streaming video, and no less than three USB 3.0 ports.
Unlike many current laptops, the Portégé R30 also includes a built-in DVD drive. That does pad the chassis out to a thickness of 27mm, which means that the Portégé R30 can’t really be described as an Ultrabook. However, Toshiba has managed to keep the weight down to just 1.5kg, and there are few laptops currently available that can combine that range of connectivity features with such a lightweight and portable design.
It’s odd, given Toshiba’s experience with TV and video technology, that the main weakness of the Portégé R30 turns out to be its screen. At first glance the screen does appear bright and colourful, and the matte-finish helps to reduce glare and reflection.
However, the screen’s 1366×768 resolution is below-par for a laptop in this price range, and the viewing angles leave room for improvement too. The brightness of the image drops quite noticeably as you start to move to the side, or if you tilt the screen backwards.
The Portégé R30 is capable of 1920×1080 video output when connected to an external display, but the screen quality is still disappointing and means it won’t be ideal for giving impromptu presentations to clients or colleagues when you’re out of the office.
Battery & Upgrades
The screen might not live up to expectation, but the Portégé R30 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to battery life. The i3 processor used in the Portégé R30 may not be particularly powerful, but it is very power-efficient. The standard battery supplied with the Portégé R30 has a capacity of 66Whr and Toshiba quotes a battery life of up to 9 hours.
Our tests confirm that estimate, so the Portégé R30 will certainly allow you to get a full day’s work between charges. A simple pair of switches on the base of the laptop allow you to quickly replace the battery, and Toshiba sells a second battery priced at £50 (ex. VAT) with 93Whr capacity to provide even longer life.
Repairs and upgrades are relatively easy too, as you can reach the drive and memory slots by removing just four screws from a plate on the base of the machine. There’s a dock connector located here too, which will allow you to connect the Portégé R30 to one of Toshiba’s port replicators when you return to your office. The dock unit costs £154 (ex. VAT), but doesn’t seem to be essential given the range of connectivity features that are already built into the laptop.
The limited viewing angles provided by the screen are disappointing at this price, and the Portégé R30 won’t be the best choice for users who do a lot of presentations work. However, the Portégé R30 can still earn its keep for basic tasks such as Web browsing or running productivity software such as Microsoft Word and Excel.
Its sturdy, lightweight design and comprehensive connectivity features ensure that it is at home both in the office and on the road. And, most importantly, its strong battery life and optional high-capacity spare battery mean that the Portégé R30 is a reliable workhorse that will genuinely provide you with a full day’s work between charges.