Apple may get all the headlines with its super-thin MacBook Air (reviewed here), but Toshiba's Portege R500-126 trumps it in many areas.

True, it can't compete on thickness - the Toshiba Portege R500-126 is 19.5-25.5mm from thinnest to thickest, while the Air is a mere 0.4-1.94mm.

But the Toshiba Portege R500-126 has a smaller footprint, squeezing itself into a 283x216 rectangle compared to the Air's 325x227 dimensions.

Weight is another issue for those on the move and one area where the Toshiba Portege R500-126 excels, coming in at just 0.78kg. It's so light, that when you pick it up it doesn't feel like it's a real laptop. Part of the weight reduction is due to the solid state drive (SSD), which also makes it significantly more robust than machines with spinning platters inside.

The down side is that with the Toshiba Portege R500-126 you're limited to 64GB of storage space - which should still be sufficient for most basic applications. Like the Air, the Toshiba has no optical drive.

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The Air packs the faster processor, but the Toshiba Portege R500-126 still has a decent 1.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7700 chip and healthy 2GB of RAM, which resulted in sufficient WorldBench 6 score of 57.

If you're after gaming, however, the Toshiba Portege R500-126 isn't the machine for you as its Intel GMA 950 chip only managed a solitary 1 frame per second (fps) in the intensive FEAR test. Battery life came in at reasonable two-and-a-half hours running our intensive tests.

The Toshiba Portege R500-126's screen is slightly smaller than the Air's, stretching to 12.1in with a 1,280x800 resolution. It's also an LED-backlit model, which should improve battery life. Colours appeared a little muted and murky, however.

NEXT PAGE: ports and connectivity, and our expert verdict > >

Apple may get all the headlines with its super-thin MacBook Air (reviewed here), but Toshiba's Portege R500-126 trumps it in many areas.

One area where the Toshiba Portege R500-126 clearly has the upper hand is ports and connectors. The Air stops at one USB port and a mini DVI.

The Toshiba Portege R500-126, on the other hand, has three USB ports, one FireWire, Ethernet, VGA and an SD card reader. If you need the room for expansion, then it's the clear winner.

Toshiba Portege

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Toshiba Portege R500-126: Specs

  • 1.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7700
  • Windows Vista Business Edition
  • 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • 64GB SSD
  • 12.1in 1,280x800 display
  • 256MB Intel GMA 950 graphics
  • 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N
  • 3-year international warranty
  • 83x215.8x19.5/25.5mm
  • 0.78kg
  • 1.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7700
  • Windows Vista Business Edition
  • 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • 64GB SSD
  • 12.1in 1,280x800 display
  • 256MB Intel GMA 950 graphics
  • 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N
  • 3-year international warranty
  • 83x215.8x19.5/25.5mm
  • 0.78kg

OUR VERDICT

Even in terms of price, the R500 stands up well against the Air once you configure the latter with the 64GB SSD drive, coming in at £1,761 to Apple's £2,028. If you're after a usable, super portable machine that weighs hardly anything then the Toshiba Portege R500-126 will make an excellent travel companion.

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