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Toshiba Portege R705-P35 Trends

Toshiba has had a long, outstanding history of making desirable ultraportable laptops. Today, it continues to crank them out as thin and as light as ones that cost over $2,000. Indeed, the Toshiba Portege R705-P35 ($899.99 list) costs a fraction of what the Sony VAIO VPC-Z116GXS ($1,800 direct, 4 stars) is selling for, yet both are easily the lightest 13-inch ultraportables (with optical drives) in the world. Since the last iteration, the Portege R705-P25 ($800 street, 4 stars), Toshiba and Best Buy have partnered up to include WiMax (4G) support, a faster Core i3 processor, and a larger battery (from 63WH to 66WH)—all while keeping the price down. The Sony Z116GXS is still the most luxurious ultraportable, but the Portege R705-P35 takes over as the new Editors' Choice (in the ultraportable category) for being as luxurious as it is practical.

General Purpose, Media, Ultraportable, Small Business
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
Processor Speed
2.4 GHz
Processor Name
Intel Core i3-370M
4 GB
3.1 lb
Screen Size
13.3 inches
Screen Size Type
Graphics Card
Intel GMA HD
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
500 GB
Networking Options
Primary Optical Drive
Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
Metal, like magnesium alloy, can be pounded into thin, yet rigid sheets, which help make the R705-P35 one of the lightest ultraportables in its class. It's the same delicate feeling you get when you pick up the Sony Z116GXS, which is draped in carbon fiber and only slightly lighter at 3 pounds. At 3.1 pounds, the Portege R705-P35 is lighter than the Dell Latitude 13 ($860 direct, 3.5 stars) (3.5 lbs) and Apple MacBook Air ($1,799 direct, 3 stars) (3.4 lbs), but not thinner.

The R705-P35 13.3-inch widescreen boasts a 1,366 by 768 resolution. A higher screen resolution in this price range is a rare find, which is why the 1,600-by-900 screens on the Sony Z116GXS and HP Envy 14 ($1,286 direct, 4 stars) are deemed luxuries. The full-size keyboard is a critical component of the R705-P35's success, as it was obtained from Toshiba's award-winning Satellite mini NB305-N410 ($400 direct, 4.5 stars) and Satellite T235-S1350 ($630 direct, 4 stars). The higher-priced Sony Z116GXS and HP Envy 14 have backlit keyboards, which you don't get with the R705-P35. The R705-P35's mouse buttons are tuned with the just the right amount of resistance and detached from the touchpad, unlike the "clickpads" found in the Apple MacBook (Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz) ($999 direct, 3.5 stars) and HP dm4-1160us ($850 street, 4 stars). You'll enjoy, as I have, the typing and navigating experiences on this laptop.

An internal DVD burner is a feature you wouldn't expect from an ultraportable as light as the R705-P35, but it's there if you need it. The internal 5,400rpm 500GB hard drive is as ample as the one found in the Asus U45Jc-A1 ($867 street, 4.5 stars) and HP dm4-1160us. If you need to extend storage capacity, an eSATA (and USB combo) port will let you do that while transferring data as fast as the internal one. An HDMI and SD slot are also included, while two more USB ports (for a total of three) can hook up the rest of your external peripherals. The pair of speakers is its weakest link, as adjusting the screen or picking up the system causes all kinds of distortion; you'll find better ones in the Asus U45Jc-A1 and HP dm4-1160us.

Two of the R705-P35's marquee features are based on Intel's latest wireless technologies—WiMax and Wireless Display (WiDi). When utilized, they can simplify your play and work life. Sprint and Clearwire, the two companies building the WiMax infrastructure, are offering a Wi-Fi-like connection that covers an entire city—54 of them, to be exact. New York and San Francisco are expected to get WiMax by the end of the year. Though typical costs can run up to $40 a month, WiMax, or 4G wireless, has better download speeds (2-5Mbps) than 3G data rates from your smartphone, blankets an entire city, and can be the backup internet connection you need in case your primary one goes down.

Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) technology is the other wireless phenom. Similar to HDMI, WiDi allows you to stream video and audio content from your laptop to an HDTV; only it does it wirelessly, provided you buy a separate receiver (Netgear Push2TV) that connects to an HDTV. The external adapter is a $100 option at Best Buy, but with it, you can stream high-definition videos (up to 720p), picture slide shows, or multimedia PowerPoint slides without using those pesky HDMI cables.

The R705-P35 also receives some performance enhancements, one of which includes a faster processor. The latest 2.4GHz Intel Core i3-370M CPU is not the nimblest compared with the Core i5 processors found in the HP dm4-1160us and Sony Z116GXS , but you would be hard pressed to notice the difference in the real world. It's a faster processor than the previous generation ones found in the Dell Latitude 13 (2,971) and Apple MacBook (4,074), as evidenced by an overall performance indicator like PCMark Vantage (5,241). Handbrake (3:04) and Cinebench R11.5 (2.0), meanwhile, were in line with the Asus U45Jc-A1.

Increasing the battery capacity to 66WH (from 63WH) is the other performance enhancement. The bump may seem insignificant at first, but it boosted the R705's battery score past the 7-hour mark (7:01); the previous iteration lasted 6 hours 20 minutes, so it's a healthy increase. The R705-P35 also outlasted the Sony Z116GXS (5:10) and HP dm4-1160us (5:30), but couldn't catch up to the Asus U45Jc-A1's monster 84WH battery (9:27).

The Toshiba Portege R705-P35 is basically your poor man's Sony VAIO VPC-Z116GXS. Together, they're the lightest ultraportables with 13-inch screens and built-in optical drives, except one cost half as much as the other. The R705-P35 is a beautifully made ultraportable and ideal for those who have busy travelling schedules and are reluctant to sacrifice all the amenities of a full size laptop. Adding extra features like WiMax, a bigger battery, and a faster Core i3 processor is nice, but keeping the price where it is, despite the additions, is sweeter than sweet.


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