For anybody who's in the scoop of things, they might have read about a particular ultra-portable notebook from Toshiba that is a world's first on two fronts: first laptop with a built-in wireless USB function and Microsoft Active Notifications. That notebook is none other than the new Portégé R400, an ultra-lightweight, sleek and attractive notebook that, at first impression, looks to be a fine extension to Toshiba's Portégé bloodline.
Capable and loyal Portégé
Arriving in a glossy white finishing, the R400 is quite a vision to behold. The preliminary assembly that we have is the R400-S4831 and it only weighs 1.72kg despite having a rotating display and all - it's good to see that Toshiba's trademarked aesthetics are not lost though. With customizable configurations and specifications, consumers will be able to list their nominated preferences and have a Portégé R400 that would play to their specific needs. As per Portégé installment, the Portégé R400 brings with it technological advancements that are more than just skin deep. In order to set a point of reference for future models to include Wireless USB technology, a total of seven antennas were installed into the R400, making it the first of its kind to draw on WiQuest's reference design that combines Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi.
In case you were wondering, the Microsoft Active Notifications are not mere after thoughts. The principle is such that users who often put their notebook in sleep or standby mode would continue to receive notifications. Through Toshiba's 'Edge' display that acts like a small information panel along the lower bezel of the R400, users would be alerted of incoming emails, outlook calendar updates and etc.
Working behind the scenes is an Intel Core Duo U2500 processor clocked at 1.2GHz with an Intel 945GM Express chipset. While the clock speed is not going to put any modern desktop computer to shame, you can rest assured that office and Internet applications are well within its stride.
We loaded common office applications and several web browsers to find that there was virtually no lag. Admittedly, Windows boot up time was a tad slow and video performance was only suitable for simple browser-based games, but at least it managed to clock 3.5 hours regularly when pushed. Depending on your budget, the Portégé R400 can be configured to come with an 80GB HDD and up to 2GB of memory.
The 12.1-inch LCD screen of the notebook is worthy of a mention and deservingly so because it's simply brilliant - thanks to its 42 LEDs that provide the backlight. Coupled with a wide viewing angle, Windows Vista just looked fabulous, even under direct sunlight. A word of caution though: as the screen uses tension to be held in place when shut, caution must be exercised to avoid the screen from shutting down too fast and hard, which might cause damages in the long run.
Writing on paper
A simple swivel motion transforms the Portégé R400 transform from a regular notebook to a Tablet PC with stylus input capability. In its Tablet form, we found that the stylus was not only accessible but was also a pretty comfortable input tool to "write" with. Much credit has to be given to the handwriting recognition software provided by the operating system, which was quick in its task of recognzing inputs, thereby making the whole process of stylus writing very natural. Scribbling on the screen felt like writing on a piece of paper minus the depression and feedback from the friction of paper.
The Toshiba R400 Portégé notebook comes complete with a small and compact laptop carrying case that, thankfully, looks like a regular fashion item. So at the end of the day, you have a notebook that looks good, doesn't weigh much and goes about its duties competently. If you have the money, all SGD$4,699 (~USD$3,093) of it, the Toshiba Portégé R400 will be an excellent addition to your mobile lifestyle.