By Charlotte Dunlap
Superthin is in with Toshiba's new Portege 2000 ultralight, which sets a record at just .73 inches in height. This svelte eye-catcher comes with a host of cutting-edge features, as well. Business and mobile users who value a light yet capable machine will probably like the Portege 2000 despite its middling performance and so-so battery life on its primary cell.
Cutting-edge size and features
The extreme thinness of the $2,199 Portege 2000 is the first thing that grabs you. More precisely, it makes you want to grab it, if the reaction around our office was any indication. (CNET editors gave the model an 8 out of 10 rating.) The front edge is a mere .6 inches high, expanding slightly to .73 inches at the back, making it the world's thinnest laptop, according to Toshiba. Given its overall compact dimensions (11.4 by 9 inches), the Portege 2000 is about the same size as your typical spiral notebook. And its 2.6-pound weight is equally stunning (add .49 pounds for the small AC power supply).
The Portege 2000's magnesium-alloy chassis with silver and black accents looks cutting edge, but it's even more impressive inside. Toshiba packed this ultralight with a dizzying array of new technologies and high-end features. You get the new 750-MHz, ultra-low-voltage mobile Pentium III; an industry-first, 1.8-inch, 20-GB hard drive that's 20 percent smaller than any hard drive currently available, according to Toshiba; Windows XP Professional; and 256 MB of RAM (expandable to 512 MB). The unit also includes integrated Wi-Fi, which is noteworthy because it's typically not found in notebooks this small. The graphics chipset is the 16-MB Trident Video Accelerator CyberBlade XP Ai1.
New, flexible battery type
The Portege 2000's standard lithium-polymer battery is also a first for Toshiba; so far, only a few other notebooks on the market are using this material. Because they're pliable, lithium-polymer batteries are easier for manufacturers to fit into ever-shrinking portables. However, the primary battery in the Portege 2000 lasted a disappointingly short 92 minutes in CNET Labs' drain tests. Toshiba didn't ship us the second, high-capacity lithium-ion battery slice (included in the system price and weighing .7 pounds), which the company says will provide up to 6.5 hours of juice. However, it looks like you'll need it.
Ultralights traditionally achieve just average performance, and the Portege 2000 follows the trend. Its scores lag just a tad behind those of similarly configured thin systems such as the Dell Latitude L400 and the Compaq Evo N200. The comparison isn't perfect; the Evo N200 and the Latitude L400 were tested using Windows 2000, not Windows XP Pro as the Portege 2000 was. But in any case, the Portege 2000 is a capable system for mainstream applications.
The Toshiba Portege 2000 may be a small fry, but it still carries a good supply of standard features. Pop open the lid, and you're greeted by a crisp, 12.1-inch, polysilicon TFT display with a native resolution of 1,024x768. The full-width keyboard has 84 keys, some of which are located in new positions. For example, in comparison to traditional keyboards, the Delete button is lower and to the right. To mouse around, use the silver touchpad and its two corresponding buttons. A hard, plastic flap in back hides 10/100 Ethernet, a modem, video-out, and two USB ports. You also get one Type II PC Card slot; a Secure Digital media slot; and Fast IR, headphone, microphone, and port-replicator connectors. The optional port replicator, not priced as of post time, adds four more USB ports.
Good support policies
Service and support policies are Toshiba's solid, standard fare. The Portege 2000 comes with a three-year parts and labor limited warranty and Toshiba's Notebook Depot repair program, which promises repair within 48 hours of receipt of the unit. Toll-free, 24/7 telephone tech support is also available. Toshiba's online support includes downloads, support bulletins, user guides, and online support forums.
The Portege 2000 packs a lot of good stuff into an extremely thin package. The sleek profile, the useful feature set, and overall coolness make this notebook's middling performance and short battery life easier to tolerate. If you want more power and a bigger laptop, consider the Toshiba Tecra 9000.
Performance (see Figure A) was measured on a test machine with these specs: PIII-800, 128MB of PC133 CL2 SDRAM, Creative Labs GeForce Annihilator 2 32MB, and Windows 2000 (Service Pack 1).
|Longer bars indicate better performance in the categories indicated.|
Battery life test
Battery performance (see Figure B) was tested using these models: Compaq Evo N200: Windows 2000 SP1; mobile Pentium III-700MHz; 192MB SDRAM; ATI Rage Mobility L 4MB; Toshiba MK2017GAP 20GB 4,200rpm. Dell Latitude L400: Windows 2000 SP1; mobile Pentium III-700MHz; 128MB RAM; ATI Rage Mobility 4MB; IBM DJSA-210 10GB 4,200rpm. Toshiba Portege 2000: Windows XP Professional; mobile Pentium III-750MHz; 256MB SDRAM; Trident Video Accelerator CyberBlade XP Ai1 16MB; Toshiba Mk2003GAH 20GB 4,200rpm
|Time is measured in minutes; longer bars indicate better performance.|
The Portege 2000's middling scores in our tests make it a capable system for mainstream apps. The notebook's primary battery lasted a disappointingly short time in drain tests, so we suggest keeping the second battery (included in the Portege's price) close by.
Click here to check the latest prices for the Portege 2000. The specs for this model are listed in Figure C.