Toshiba Portege R500-s5003 / stay away from this model!
I purchased this unit about six months ago. I can't say that I'm very impressed at this point. Of course, everyone I hand it to says "wow - this is light!". And it is - but after that, things start to go downhill.
To begin, the computer does run the Vista software at a reasonable speed - if you turn off all the fancy display options. The keyboard is a decent size, with a slightly unconventional layout (you get used to the delete key being in a different place, eventually). The display is OK - nothing to write home about. While the solid state hard drive is quite fast, the graphics performance is pretty poor - the Toshiba/Microsoft benchmarks I ran says it's about the minimum you need for Vista. That's about all I can say in the positive sense.
Now for the not so good stuff. The case appears to be made out of very thin plastic. Maybe it is tough plastic, but it flexes all over the place. Kind of like very thick paperboard. The battery pack rattles in its holder - securely held in place, but allowing several millimeters of movement.
The touch pad has been replaced. Even so, light pressure on the frame where your palm rests can still cause repeated "back arrow" entries, which is hugely frustrating when navigating using an Internet browser. Just when you want to complete a transaction, you are thrown back to the previous 3-4 screens. Argh!!!
I have also had this unit in the shop to replace the DVD drive - it worked on arrival, but died shortly thereafter. Toshiba sent the wrong cables and delayed repairs several days until the right parts were received by the repair facility.
Finally, I can't believe the arrogance of Toshiba with respect to their direct sales web site - www.toshibadirect.com. That's really why this unit gets a "1" rating - they misled me and probably continue to mislead scores of others. I pretty much relied on the positive descriptions of the unit I saw there for user ratings, only to find out that just 30% of the submissions are actually posted - and Toshiba claims they have no control over what is posted on that site. This is especially suspicious when I see that other products definitely have more reviews posted. C'mon, give me a break. Do you think they don't have enough disk space to save the reviews???
How did I learn about this, you ask? When I complained to Toshiba about not posting my own review of this unit on their site! Even though I thought my review was pretty even-handed (positive and negatives fairly represented - and this was before my DVD died), apparently someone at Toshiba did not like it - and so it was never posted.
I went to the Better Business Bureau about this, and here is a direct quote from Toshiba in response to my BBB complaint about failing to post reviews on their website:
"Only a small portion of customer reviews actually show up on the company website (around 30%) and is governed by a third party. Unfortunately we can not control which reviews are published to the website. At this time we will consider the matter closed."
So, caveat emptor! Make sure you have one in your hand to try out before paying so much money for a flimsy product that has only so-so overall performance. I would definitely recommend the Dell XPS1330 instead. It is much faster, and the display is gorgeous! While Dell is not perfect, at least they never misled me. Dell's customer service is also quite good. Yeah, the Dell is heavier, but it's also built much, much better. In other words, unless you must have a really light unit, do yourself a favor and stay away from Toshiba.
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