Before the netbook fad and more recently the hype surrounding the ultrabook, there existed the dominant line of "ultraportables" -- machines taking each generation of computing to the extreme with thin sleek designs with full-powered hardware underneath.
Toshiba's Protégé R930 proves that it's still hip to go "full-sized" without sacrificing portability or power.
The R930 is Toshiba's latest ultraportable model, giving choosey business execs a well-rounded offering with more capabilities and greater battery comparably-sized ultrabooks. Better yet, the R930 offers a normal CPU found in larger laptops instead of the low voltage ones found in ultrabooks. That means better performance and though it is slightly thicker, the weight is still very reasonable for those that need to get on the move.
The Portégé R930 looks similar to the Tecra R950 with its minimalist design black motif, accented with hints of chrome on the hinges and the logo. The magnesium alloy chassis gives it a sturdy, durable feel.
Opened up, the R930 has a typical laptop configuration, with its 13.3in widescreen display and a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, while a touchpad with fingerprint reader between the left/right buttons. It sports a chicklet style keyboard but unfortunately the keys are not backlit.
While practical, the design is not particularly stunning, especially compared to some of the more design focused ultrabooks like the Samsung Series 9. Even against the rather plain, but svelte Sony Z ultraportable, the R930 is not going to turn any heads.
That said, the world of business laptops is expected to be boring, with the exceptions of a few higher priced models. At the roughly $1000 price range of this notebook it holds its own.
For business people that need to do serious work, an advantage of this "full-sized" ultraportable is the slew of connectivity features it manages to pack into the small space.
Road warriors will enjoy the removable battery, a feature that most ultrabooks seal inside the construction. Toshiba even managed to squeeze an optical drive in the unit, though it still manages 1.05 inches.
A fingerprint swipe scanner sits between the touchpad buttons, while an array of status LEDs is lined up below them.
One glaring omission however is the touchpad is not a multi-touch interface. While this may not be an issue for most, it bucks the trend of most emerging laptops, and the lack will be more prominent in the mult-touch enabled Windows 8.
On the bright side there are plenty of ports. The Protégé comes equipped with a standard VGA output and HDMI connector for legacy displays that clutter the office, and newer devices in the home.
There are 2 USB 3.0 ports, a full-sized gigabit ethernet port and a DVD drive. If that weren't enough, an SD port completes the right side while Toshiba's signature eSATA port flanks the left, which can also double as a USB.
The laptop features a number of design considerations and optimizations with the business user in mind.
First for busy IT departments that may be servicing this unit, the memory and hard-drives are easily assessable for upgrades and replacement. This may not be the case for all ultrabooks, and certainly not for the Sony Vaio Z.
The unit also features a port for a dock, a distinct advantage over ultrabooks.
For a portable unit that is professional and powerful the R390 fits the bill. For discerning executives that want to make a statement in the boardroom the aesthetics or standout features simply aren't there. But if the statement you want to make is good ROI and smart use of money, the R930 might be just for you.
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