TechBargains Review - Toshiba Portege R835-P50x Laptop

Posted: Apr 19 2016, 5:56pm CDT | by , in Deals

TechBargains Review - Toshiba Portege R835-P50x Laptop
Time left: 11746 days


Let's be real for a moment. A netbook is an awesome device if all you want is something ultra-portable to knock around the Web, send emails, and even do a little bit of productivity work. But are you going to replace your daily notebook with a netbook? Probably not. Even with dual-core Atom chips now the norm, netbooks don't possess the power or capabilities of a full-fledged notebook.

A solid alternative is a true ultra-portable like the Toshiba Portege R835-P50X. The R835 has all the makings of a much more powerful notebook but in a highly portable 13.3-inch form factor that's one of the lightest around. It's like having the convenience of a netbook, only instead of an Atom processor and a threadbare feature-set, the R835 packs Intel's Sandy Bridge platform and an optical drive, two things you may never see in a netbook. We'll get to the pros and cons, but first, a quick peek of the spec sheet:

  • 13.3-inch widescreen display (1366x768)
  • Intel Core i3 2310M processor
  • Intel HD 3000 graphics
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM
  • 640GB hard drive (5400 RPM)
  • DVD burner
  • Intel Wi-Fi with WiDi technology
  • GbE LAN
  • 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x eSATA/USB (2.0) combo with Sleep and Charge, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI
  • Multi-card reader
  • 6-cell battery
  • Price: $889

What We Liked:

    • Light As A Feather? Almost!: At just 3.2 pounds, the R835-P50X is one of the lightest 13.3-inch notebooks out there and is only slightly heavier than Apple's ultrathin MacBook Air and Samsung's Series 9. And that's with an optical drive. When other notebooks go on a diet, the R835 is the picture they post on their refrigerator as inspiration.

    • Comfortable Keyboard: Unlike most ultrathins, the R835's keyboard is a delight to type on, provided you dig the chiclet-style keys that are all the rage these days. The click action is nearly perfect and doesn't vex us as some notebook keyboards are prone to do. That said, this is a 13.3-inch notebook, so don't expect a numpad. It also lacks a backlight, but even with these drawbacks, we give the R835's keyboard two thumbs up.

    • Full Featured Notebook: Intel Sandy Bridge platform? Check. Optical drive? Check. 4GB of RAM, 640GB hard drive, and USB 3.0 with Sleep and Charge capability? Check, check, and checkmate. For as portable as the R835 is, Toshiba managed to cram a ton of hardware and features in and around its ultraportable. The R835 is only slightly bigger and heavier than a netbook, but on the hardware side, it has much more in common with traditional notebooks. You're not going to score just shy of 5,100 in PCMark Vantage with a netbook, but that's what we recorded with the R835. It also represented itself well in PCMark 7 (1,872), and our assortment of synthetic memory and disk benchmarks.

    • High-Tech Connectivity:
    • Toshiba scores a solid 'A' for all the connectivity options available with the R835, starting with the USB 3.0 port. Not only will it accommodate SuperSpeed devices, but it will also charge your gadgets even when the system is powered off. There's also an eSATA port, HDMI port, and perhaps best of all, the R835 is ready to communicate with an Intel WiDi (Wireless Display) adapter to project multimedia content to your HDTV. That's rad in and of itself, let alone for a device this small.

  • Battery Life: The R835 has nothing to be ashamed of in terms of battery life. We used Battery Eater Pro to drain the 6-cell battery, a particularly brutal benchmark that measures a worst case scenario. And if that weren't enough, we configured the screen to never turn off and remain at its brightest setting for the duration of the test. Even with the odds clearly stacked against the R835, it managed to bench 120 minutes of runtime. In real-world usage, you can expect much longer.

What We Didn't Like

    • Poor Quality Screen: The Achilles heel is the 13.3-inch screen, and in more ways than one. First, it's only 13.3 inches, and even though it supports a 720p resolution, it's not the same experience as using a 15.6-inch notebook. We noticed vertical lines running throughout the screen, and it has a strict viewing angle that quickly degrades if you don't view the screen dead-on.

    • No Love for Gamers: You don't buy a 13.3-inch laptop for gaming, and the R835 is no exception. It doesn't boast discrete graphics, the integrated Intel HD 3000 chipset steals memory from the main system, and it doesn't support DirectX 11 visuals.

  • Overly Sensitive HDD Protection: The R835 does a great job of detecting vibrations and parking the hard drive heads to keep your data safe should you bump or drop your notebook, but it's overly sensitive. The slightest movement tends to set it off. We suppose it's better to be safe than sorry, we just don't think the R835 needs to be quite this skittish.

Our Verdict:

Our comparison of the R835-P50X with a netbook is simply to show you that you can have a bona fide computing experience in an ultraportable design that doesn't limp with underpowered and/or missing hardware. And make no mistake, though it only weighs 3.2 pounds and measures 13.3 inches, the R835 is a solidly spec'd notebook that attempts to combine the portability of a netbook with the power of a laptop, and mostly succeeds.

It's not a gaming notebook, nor is it as sexy as a MacBook Air. We're also not overly impressed with the display's strict viewing angle. But the R835-P50X makes up for its few shortcomings by not only living up to what you expect an ultraportable to be, but by going above and beyond. The dual-core Sandy Bridge processor (Core i3 2310M) provides a solid foundation, both in terms of power and power management. Combined with 4GB of DDR3 memory, a spacious 640GB hard drive, DVD burner, and a large 6-cell battery, the R835 provides plenty for road warriors to smile about.

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5

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TechBargains Review - Toshiba Portege R835-P50x Laptop