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Toshiba Portege A600-120 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £930
inc VAT


12.1 in 1,280×800 display, 1.5kg, 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300, 2.00GB RAM, 160GB disk, Windows Vista Business

Toshiba’s Portege A600-120 is a fully fledged ultra-portable laptop, being small enough to be carried around all-day everyday.

It’s noticeably lighter than Toshiba’s Tecra R10. However, although it’s small it doesn’t make the same sacrifices seen in cut-price netbooks.

It has a 12.1in widescreen display with a resolution of 1,280×800. This makes it easier to use than the tiny 8.9in or 10.1in screens on most netbooks, but keeps the laptop small enough to slip into most bags. The screen has a matt finish, so it’s easier to see under bright lighting than glossy models. Though this usually means a reduction in brightness and colour vibrancy, we were impressed with this particular screen. Colours looked natural and whites were clean. It uses an LED backlight, which means it’s evenly lit and also uses less power than a standard fluorescent-lit display.

The screen size also means that there’s a decent-sized keyboard, with no half-sized keys. It’s a pretty comfortable keyboard to type on, too. The key springs are a little soft, but there’s plenty of feedback. The relatively large touch pad is one of the best we’ve used and gave us precise control.

Lots of ultra-portable laptops keep their size and weight down by leaving out hardware or using low-capacity batteries. The Portege A600-120 uses none of these tricks, but manages to weigh a dainty 1.5kg. This weight includes the 5,800MaH battery, which powered the laptop for six hours and 26 minutes in our light-use test.

It’s good to see a built-in DVD writer, if only to use the supplied restore disc, which can downgrade the operating system from Vista Business to Windows XP Professional. As Media Center isn’t part of Vista Business or XP, Toshiba provides its own DVD playback software.

The main reason to buy an ultra-portable laptop like this, rather than a cheaper netbook, is to get a decent processor. The Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 is one of Intel’s low-power processors, which helps with the long battery life. It runs at 1.2GHz, but is dual core and faster than a netbook’s Atom processor. It’s fine for Vista and office applications, but you won’t want to do anything too intensive such as video editing. We’d have preferred a slightly faster processor.

The 160GB hard disk should be big enough for most people’s documents, but feels stingy at this price. For an extra £100 you can buy the A600-122, which has a larger 250GB hard disk and a built-in 3G modem.

This laptop mostly manages to get the right balance between performance and portability. However, it’s a bit expensive for its specification. Those wanting quicker performance should consider the Tecra R10 instead.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300
Processor clock speed 1.2GHz
Memory 2.00GB
Memory slots 1
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 5GB
Size 29.9x223x286
Weight 1.5kg
Sound Realtek High Definition Audio
Pointing device touchpad
Power consumption standby 1W
Power consumption idle 14W
Power consumption active 17W


Viewable size 12.1 in
Native resolution 1,280×800
Graphics Processor Intel GMA 4500M HD
Graphics/video ports VGA
Graphics Memory 812MB


Total storage capacity 160GB
Optical drive model Matshita DVD-RAM UJ862AS
Optical drive type DVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 3
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support 802.11a/n
PC Card slots 1x ExpressCard/54
Modem No
Supported memory cards SDHC
Other ports eSATA


Carrying case No
Operating system Windows Vista Business
Operating system restore option restore disc
Software included Toshiba DVD Player
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty three years international RTB
Price £930