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  • GotThumbs - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I look forward to the day when SSD drives will be more of a mainstream option.

    Nice Review as always.
  • dananski - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I've been thinking the same thing recently since I looked for a laptop for a friend on Dell's website and found she couldn't have an SSD without spending nearly £1000 (~$1650) for an Alienware gaming laptop she doesn't need (she has a desktop for gaming). Even then, Dell's only "SSD" option for non-business customers is actually a hybrid drive.

    A decent SSD makes even a low end system much more usable. It's not a feature that should be limited to the high end.
  • Stuka87 - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    You can get SSD's on Latitudes, which cost less than an alienware box.

    The issue is Dell SSD's suck. So its far better to go with a base HD, and then buy an SSD from NewEgg or something. Its both MUCH cheaper, and you get a better drive.
  • Shinobi_III - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    SSD would be more mainstream if general people understood why they would buy a laptop with 64gb instead of THREE THOUSAND!!!

    People are dumb, never underestimate the general public... :(
  • chrnochime - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I might be behind on the latest status of SSDs but last time I checked they still die much faster than HDs do with repeated read/writes, because of them being NAND(or NOR) cells and not discs. I'd jump on SSD if that's not the case anymore. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    General use with current wear leveling algorithms means the NAND should last upwards of 10 years on all current drives. The bigger problem is something else going wrong (i.e. faulty firmware, or some other glitch), so if you have critical data stored on an SSD I'd recommend a real backup strategy rather than just hoping for the best. If an HDD dies and you really need the data, you can pay data recovery firms a couple thousand dollars and usually get everything back. If you SSD dies, you're pretty much SOL. Reply
  • Roland00 - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    13.3 inch
    i5 2410m
    Nvidia Geforce GT540m with Nvidia Optimus (it uses 2gb of ddr3 though instead of gddr5)
    It gets rid of the crappy acer island keyboard, but keeps the glossy screen and has the resolution at 1366x768.
    No Optical Drive.
    4lbs 1 ounce.

    It is $779 at frys, I don't know what the other places are going to have since this is a new product and hasn't made much news yet.
  • warisz00r - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    the also-new ASUS U41SV? It has pretty much the similar specs as the Acer above except it comes with a 14.1 inch screen, an optical drive, about 1" thick and comes in at about 2kg with an 8-cell batt. I'm hoping to get one of these as my new laptop. Reply
  • ppeterka - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    Agreed with both of you! 15.6" AND HD resolution, AND business class? Oh my god, when will this end?

    And there is the absolutely redundant, never used keypad. Why?

    Acers have a bad reputation regarding build quality (Me, and ym colleagues were having display problems in the Penryn era 57xxG notebooks), but I wouldn't buy this over the Acer 3830 series even if I was forced to. Big. Crap. And not THAT cheap! Even here in Hungary, Acer prices are quite reasonable, and they pack quite a punch for the money.
  • aylafan - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I just saw your title and it is incorrect. Make sure you are buying the 3830TG and not the 3830T.

    3830T = ONLY has Intel Integrated Graphics
    3830TG = NVIDIA GeForce GT540M with Optimus Technology
  • Roland00 - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I meant TG not T Reply
  • Hrel - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I'd like a notebook designed like this except with the GT555 GPU. 1080p high contrast screen is a must. Reply
  • FlyBri - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    Totally agree. I don't get why it's so difficult to offer a 1080p option. It's not just for watching Blu-Ray movies -- I got my current laptop with a 1080p screen specifically to have more screen real estate for work. And please, for the love of god, give us choices for a high quality screen! It just seems like laptop manufacturers just don't get it... Reply
  • jackpro - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    It would be nice to know if the screen is a


    as it would really help with understanding the colour accuracy possible.
    like this excellent site does
  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    For notebooks, it's going to be TN 99% of the time. We'll only specify when it's something else. Reply
  • Pratheek - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    If there were a good 1080p display along much more battery capacity, I would have certainly booked it... Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    For a 1000-dollar-laptop with a crappy screen. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    Editor's Choice for a high quality build with great general performance; put on a real screen and this would have been Silver at least. Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I almost purchased an R700 but did not because of three issues: its poor screen quality, the terrible keyboard (the keys had so little travel that typing wasn't unpleasant, it was downright painful), and the fact that it got ball-burning hot. I'm glad Toshiba fixed the heat issue, but it looks like the other two remain.

    I strongly suggest anyone interested in this laptop try it out in the store if possible (Best Buy should be carrying it). That keyboard is imho *terrible.*
  • TrackSmart - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I have the Toshiba R705. It's a great form factor, but yes, the screen is very poor in all metrics (viewing angles, contrast, color reproduction) except for brightness. The other issues are minor by comparison (e.g. the heat is not that bad and the keyboard isn't terrible once you get acclimated). But that screen... Reply
  • ScottHavens - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I stopped reading when I saw 15.6" and 1366x768. That resolution is borderline acceptable for a 12" screen; I'm typing this with a 1400x900 12" screen and still wouldn't mind it a bit higher res. Anything short of 1080p is laughable for a screen that size and an immediate won't-buy. Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I would say that 1280 x 800 is the minimum for a 15" screen. Having only 766 vertical pixels is a crap, especially with all this ribbon-menu nonsense. Reply
  • TrackSmart - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I agree with everyone about the screen resolution and quality. Have you seen these 15.6" laptops? They are huge. Much wider than older 15" models (e.g. before 16:9 displays). Manufacturers should be going for 1680x1050 or similar resolutions and offer a higher quality screen as an upgrade for those who care. Part of the problem is that retail stores hide the screen resolution specifications. And forget about measures of screen quality. No information = no way for the non-tech savvy user to compare products. And that means no incentive for companies to give you something better. Reply
  • Shinobi_III - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    My experience with Toshiba laptops has always been that while the chassis might feel real crappy, and has no "titanium trim" or branded speakers (that still sound bad)
    They always spent that lull money on the hardware quality, maybe not specs, but durability.

    All kinds of laptops stream through my work (I fix them for a living) and Toshibas virtually never have hardware failures, unless they've been pounded on..
  • Guspaz - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I'm an r700 owner, and a friend recently purchased an r830, so I've kept up a bit on Toshiba's latest offerings. From my experience, and this review, it seems that there are a few flaws that Toshiba should fix (and should have fixed) with these second-gen laptops:

    1) The fingerprint reader. It's annoying that it's between the two trackpad buttons. It would be nice if it were on the palm rest on the side like other vendors do. I use the trackpad a lot, I use the fingerprint reader occasionally. Why does it need to be right on the trackpad?

    2) Quad-core CPU option on larger sizes. I understand not putting a quad-core in the 830 or 840, but the 850 has no excuse. Quad-core parts don't significantly impact battery life, and the 850 clearly has thermal budget to spare. It'd be a nice upgrade if it were offered, but for some reason, it isn't.

    3) The discrete graphics in the r850 are a joke. If the discrete graphics are slower than the CPU's iGPU, what the heck is the point of the discrete graphics? At least Toshiba does give you the option here to not get the ATI chip.

    4) The screens. For the r700 and r830, the 1366x768 resolution isn't a huge issue. A bit low, but on a 13.3", it's still somewhat acceptable. But on a 14" or 15.6" notebook, it's really not. The review already largely touched on this, but shipping a 1366x768 15.6" display in these price ranges are not acceptable. A friend of mine was recently in the market for a ~15" dockable business notebook, and he did not purchase the r850 specifically because of the low screen resolution; his 15" Dell Latitude came with a 1680x1050 display instead, and much better quality to boot.

    The unfortunate thing is that the r800 series was Toshiba's chance to fix some of the flaws from the r700 series, and it looks like they decided not to.
  • DaveGirard - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    it'd be nice if you could include the MacBook Pros with discrete AMD instead of onboard graphics. Reply
  • Nimiz99 - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I just wanted to mention that for a business-class notebook 3 screens is very nice...especially considering that for mine (DELL E6410), only two screens are possible. The problem is that one of the screens that "counts" towards the limit is the laptop screen itself. Ideally i'd like to have two 23" lcd's next to each other with the laptop screen serving for email/media. The fact that the Toshiba can do that is a huge plus.

    On an aside, I don't think I'd spend the money on a business class notebook, where external displays, where processor speed (for all those programs and Office), and where the build quality for 50%-90% travel will make much more of a difference, when I can buy a gaming-centric note-book that delivers on the GPU and screen quality that i'd demand for that SPECIFIC usage scenario.
  • HangFire - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    1366x768... sigh. I don't pay US$900 or more for 1366x768.

    All 15.6" laptops are big, and why not use the space for a number pad. I have no problem with that. But with the low screen resolution and poor gaming performance, you might as well buy the C655 HD3000 i3 version, which MicroCenter had on sale for Memorial Day weekend for $399.
  • Mxlasm - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    I would at least mention Lenovo Thinkpads as a possible competitor. Not sure about their latest T5xx line, but in the past their business laptops always were of very high build quality, with very good keyboard and relatively light (and admittedly with a so-so scrren as well). Also usually configurable and lately reasonably priced as well. Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    These Toshibas don't compare to a ThinkPad T series, I'd even put them subpar to the L-Series (low-end) or even the Edge which is the "hip" modernized looking ThinkPad with island-type keyboard. But the Edge models are lower cost without the horse power.

    The only "feature" Toshiba has, is a numeric keypad... with a crappy keyboard.
  • JasonInofuentes - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    How much of an affect did it really have, I mean could you tell if you put an average screen side by side? Reply
  • TrackSmart - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    As an owner of a Toshiba R705, which has similarly low contrast, I can tell you that the screen is noticeably more washed out than on a 3 year old Dell Inspiron sitting next to it. And it's noticeably worse than the acer netbook we have on hand. And compared to a decent desktop monitor, it becomes obvious that a huge swath of the color spectrum is missing. When I first got it, I kept tilting the screen forward and back, thinking it was washed out because of a less than optimal viewing angle. Nope. Just terrible contrast. At least the screen is plenty bright. That's the only good thing I can say about it. Reply
  • Belard - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    Crappy keyboard, gloss... cheap screen, "business machine".

    Why bother with this? A ThinkPad has a real keyboard, no gloss. A better screen with optional higher rez display that is well worth the extra $50.

    T-Series starts at $800.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    While I won't disagree with the general idea, the T520 with similar specs to the review system comes to $2019, but Lenovo has a sale right now that brings the price down to just $1357. At that price, yes, I'd definitely go with the T520. I'd also take advantage of the option to upgrade to a 1080p LCD (and if you need a better than HD 3000 GPU, grab the Quadro NVS 4200M for another $150 added to the cost).

    However, the T520 dimensions are 14.68" x 9.65" x1.25-1.40" and weight is 5.57 lbs. So the Toshiba Tecra is slightly wider but .2 to .4" thinner and .3 lbs. lighter.

    I'd still lean towards the Lenovo; shame they won't send us anything for review these days.
  • Penti - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    The L-series should compete well with this model though! On the low end. Lacking the dedicated graphics then though. But this can also be had without. They also even support docking stations. With their low starting prices. So they should make some sense in business scenarios. Add $50 on the Lenovo L-520 and you also get the 1600x900 screen. Add another $50 if you like the 9-cell battery. However the Toshiba stands pretty well in this regard. So does Dell and HP. A 14" E5420 can be had for the same price with 3 year basic warranty and the 1600x900 screen. Where the Toshiba falls, is for my taste the screen. If you just want a 15" model with NVS 4200M you could grab the Dell E6520 for about 1200 dollars. For about same as this with 1080 screen. So you shouldn't need any special deals to match this. A T-520 or E6520 and HP 8560p matches just fine, but with the added bonus of coming with higher res screens.

    The 8560p even comes with a comparable GPU, the HD6470M, preconfigured option with 4GB DDR3, 2.5GHz Core i5-2520M, 320GB 7200, 15.6" 1600x900 anti-glare and HD6470M is $1299. Or about $1200 from resellers such as pcmall. Then with the i5-2540M. And the i7-2620M model is $1339.99 at newegg. So they are not the only game in town.
  • Penti - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    And of course if you just like a semi-gaming (or laptop with discrete graphics) but don't need any business features, there is lots of others. Even if you like higher res screens. You get quad-core notebooks with GT540 or there about for around 1000 dollars if you can handle the lousy 1080 screens. Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    I'd choose the L (Lame) Series over this Toshiba... The L-Series still has a good keyboard with a more generic layout... which is not as good as the oldschool ThinkPad layout that is found in the T series.

    Features quality of the L are not up to the level T and are priced about $200~300 cheaper.

    Anyways... JarredWalkton. Lenovo is always having some sort of sale. I bumped up the T520 with camera, 500GB HD and top end wireless package. and of course went with the 1600x900 screen. The price is $1444, which is $95 cheaper than the T-520 I configured against the Toshiba in this review.

    The Toshiba includes a 3yr warranty. Its a $100 more on the ThinkPad for a 3-year ONSITE parts and labor package which is a bargain.

    The current T520 doesn't have USB3.0 yet. (The 420s does)

    So for $95 more, get a serious NVIDIA NVS 4200M graphics (I like AMD).
    - Killer keyboard - I don't think anyone else is making normal keysboards.
    - Higher rez graphics and better screen
    - Spill resistant keyboard (has 2-3 channels to drain your beer)
    - Crash cage frame (take a ThinkPad apart, you'll see it - * L and Edges are not included)

    Looking at the photos of the Toshiba 850... its rather, generic looking... The HP Elite or Dell Latitudes are much better looking ThinkPad clones...
    (When Dell, HP and Toshiba add a tracking stick to their business notebooks and using heavy duty hinges - they are making ThinkPad-like notebooks)
  • wvh - Monday, June 06, 2011 - link

    Toshiba seems to be headed in the right direction, but 1366x768 on a 15-inch laptop? This is not a consumer-oriented netbook. I would never buy anything with a 1366x768 resolution, and it's hard to imagine my needs would be far different than those of any other serious geek. I'm not a fan, but it seems that so far only Apple can get the bare basics of screen/keyboard/trackpad right... If you screw one of those elementary in/out interfaces up and handicap basic usability, it really doesn't matter anymore what sort of i-something, amount of memory or usb666 ports you put in it. Reply
  • Mumrik - Tuesday, June 07, 2011 - link

    "15.6-inch LED Matte 16:9 1366x768"

    That is disgusting...

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