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Toshiba R100 subnotebook

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Reviewed by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief. Feb. 8, 2004

The Toshiba Portege R100 is an ultra-slim and light (and we mean it!) subnotebook that's easy on the wallet and your back. We reviewed the lovely Sony Vaio X505 a few weeks ago, which is a Japanese model available only from importers that's a bit slimmer and smaller. The R100 is almost as thin (see picture, right), and at half the price, is the ulta-slim notebook for the rest of us. Of course, the Portege R100 is a US model, so you'll be able to buy it at many retailers and will recieve direct tech support from Toshiba Americas too. If you can forgo the X505's exotic carbon fiber casing and smaller size in exchange for saving $2,000, then read on.

Toshiba Portege R100  notebook

The R100 has the now-standard for subnotebooks Intel Centrino Mobile Pentium M processor running at 1 GHz, 256 megs of RAM (expandable) and a 32 meg video card, making it a speedy performer that won't make you wait when working in MS Office apps or browsing the web.


The R100 weighs only 2.4 pounds and is .65" thin, which is thinner than some PDAs. It measures 11.3" wide by 9.0" deep, making it about the same size as a US letter size pad of paper. That puts the Portege firmly in the ultralight and slim class of notebooks, and this is about as portable as notebooks come. The Sony Vaio TR2A also competes in the truly subnotebook class, and is significantly smaller in terms of width and depth, but is quite a bit thicker. That thickness does allow for a DVD/CDRW drive, which the R100, like most true subnotebooks, lacks.

The top of the unit is finished in silver and is made of magnesium, while the bottom and inner surfaces are matte black. The primary battery and the door to access the memory slot are located on the bottom. Six LEDs along the back hinge area are visible when the notebook is both closed and open. They indicate power, primary (internal) battery, secondary (removebale) battery, WiFi, caps lock, num lock and SD access.

Toshiba Portege R100

The R100 with the included extended battery attached to the bottom.

size comparison

Comparing the size and thickness of the Sony Vaio X505 (top) and the Toshiba Portege R100 (bottom).



Deals and Shopping





The Toshiba has a trackpad with two buttons and a comfy keyboard that's reasonably roomy since the unit has sufficient width and depth to accomodate a standard notebook keyboard. Key travel is good for such a thin unit, and I had no difficulty typing.

The SD card slot is located on the left side, while the PCMCIA slot, WiFi on/off switch, standard 3.5mm audio out and mic jacks are located on the right side. Two USB 2.0 ports, a standard VGA port, modem and Ethernet jacks are located on the rear of the notebook. The docking connector is on the bottom of the R100, and the unit supports hot-docking.


Since mid-2003, subnotebooks have gotten brainier thanks to Intel's new Centrino technology. What is Centrino? It's Intel's name for their new notebook architecture released in 2003 which combines their new Pentium M processor, 855 chipset and the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 WiFi 802.11 network interface. The Pentium M is supposed to be significantly faster than mobile Pentium 4 processors, yet it uses very little power and creates less heat, making it perfect for subnotebooks.The R100's Intel Centrino Ultra Low Voltage Mobile Pentium M processor running at 1 GHz with a 400 MHz front side bus and DDR RAM is plenty fast for even demanding applications.

The unit comes with 256 megs of RAM and runs Windows XP Professional. If you're a power user, you'll want to upgrade or order a unit with more RAM, and the R100 can run up to 1 gig of RAM. It has one slot for RAM, and uses PC2100 DDR SODIMMs.

The Toshiba Portege R100, like other super-slim notebooks and subnotebooks, uses a 1.8" PCMCIA size hard drive. These drives aren't quite as fast as standard 2.5mm notebook hard drives, but they do use half the power. The drive has a 2 meg cache (the same as most notebook and basic desktop hard drives), a 4,200 RPM rotational speed and has an ATA-5 interface capable of 100MB/sec  transfer rates.

Like most ultra-thin notebooks, the Toshiba doesn't have an internal optical drive. It doesn't ship with an external DVD or CD drive either, so you'll definitely need to get one if you wish to install software or use the included 3 CD recovery media.

Screen, Sound and Battery Life

The R100 has a 12.1" LCD running at 1024 x 768 XGA resolution. Again, since the unit has reasonable depth and width, it can accomodate this size LCD, which means text will be readable and even if your eyes aren't the greatest, you should have no problems seeing what's on screen. The display is crisp, decently bright and color saturated. It may not rival the TR2A's XBRITE display, but won't disappoint.

A Trident XPm32 LP graphics controller w/32MB DDR memory provides good graphics processing power and the dedicated video memory will be a bonus for gamers, though the Trident isn't one of the popular gaming video cards. Many Centrino notebooks use the Intel 855GM graphics controller that is a part of the Centrino architecture, but Toshiba has done things a little differently. Since the 855GM graphics controller isn't terribly exciting, that's not a bad thing. The Toshiba can drive a large external display via the standard VGA connector on the rear.

The Portege has a mono speaker on the bottom of the notebook and supports stereo sound output through headphones or powered speakers. The unit uses the SoundMAX integrated digital audio processor commonly found on current notebooks. It has a standard 3.5mm headphone/external speaker jack and a standard mic jack for use with PC microphones.

The Portege R100 has a 1,600 mA removeable internal Lithium Ion polymer battery that's quite small in both physical size and amps. However, it comes with an extended battery that clips on the bottom and adds a healthy 3,600 mA of power without adding too much thickness and weight. The internal battery should get you approximately 1.5 hours of use with WiFi on and power management set to standard conservation. Clip on the extended battery and you should get 5 hours under the same conditions. I like the design: if you want to travel slim and light, and won't be far from a power source, then go without the extended battery. But when you'll be travelling for long periods or just know an outlet won't be convenient you can snap on the extended battery. Nice! Toshiba did well to include the extended battery in the box when most other manufacturers charge you $200 or more for their extended battery. The included world charger is compact (about the same size as Toshiba Pocket PC chargers!) and supports voltages from 100 to 240V.

Toshiba Portege R100 top

Top view, closed


Bottom view

Ports, WiFi and Expandability

The Portege comes with Intel PRO/ Wireless 2100 802.11b WiFi, which offers excellent range in our tests. To turn WiFi off and on, simply use the slider switch on the side of the computer. The R100 also has Intel Pro 10/100 VE integrated wired Ethernet and a 56k modem. There are two USB 2.0 ports, a standard VGA port and an SD card slot. The PCMCIA slot, compatible with type I and II cards as well as CardBus cards is located on the right side, as are the 3.5mm stereo audio out and mic jacks. That's good expandabiliy for a 2.4 lb. notebook!


An extremely thin and light notebook for a reasonable price. The fast Centrino architecture, ability to upgrade to 1 gig of RAM, included Windows XP Professional and reliable Intel Pro Wireless networking are definite winners. It has VGA, USB 2.0, 1 CardBus PC card slot and an SD slot. Integrated WiFi, Ethernet and a 56k modem will help you stay connected. Comes with recovery CDs and an extended battery. Cons: No included optical drive means you'll need to spend more money on a drive so you can install software. Make sure to get the Toshiba PC Card DVD drive that will boot the Toshiba if you ever have to re-install the OS using the recovery CDs. I'd like to see 512 megs of RAM standard on this unit— after all, it does have Windows XP Pro and a fast processor, why skimp on the RAM?

Suggested Retail for the Toshiba Portege R100: (Windows XP Pro, 256 megs RAM) $1,999

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Size: .6" to .7" thick X 11.3" X 9.0" . Weighs 2.4 pounds (not including extended battery). Magnesium alloy case.

Display: 12.1" TFT LCD display (1024 x 768). Trident XPm32 LP graphics controller w/32MB DDR memory. Can drive an external monitor.

Sound: SoundMAX integrated digital audio by Analog Devices. Built-in mono speaker; mono mini-jack microphone, and 3.5mm stereo out jack for headphones and speakers.

Processor: Centrino technology. Ultra Low Voltage Intel® Pentium® M Processor running at 1 GHz. 64K level 1 cache, 1 meg level 2 cache (both On-Die). 400 MHz Front Side Bus. Intel 855 Centrino chipset.

Standard RAM: 256 megs, expandable to 1 gigabyte. Has one slots for RAM and uses PC2100 DDR SODIMMs.

Drives: 40 gig 1.8" PCMCIA size hard drive. 2 meg cache, 4,200 RPM rotational speed and has an ATA-5 interface capable of 100MB/sec  transfer rates.

Ports: 1 PCMCIA slot (supports type I & II as well as CardBus), 1 SD (secure Digital) card slot, 2 USB 2.0 ports, RJ45 10/100 Ethernet, VGA, mic in and standard 3.5mm stereo out.

Modem: Integrated 56K V.92/V.90 modem.

Ethernet: Integrated Intel Pro 10/100 wired Ethernet. Built-in Intel PRO/ Wireless 2100 WiFi (802.11b) wireless.

Battery: 1600 mAh Lithium Ion polymer. A 3,600 mAh extended battery is included with the unit and clips on the bottom.

Software: Windows XP Professional


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