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Hands-on with the Toshiba Portege R835

One of our most popular reviews last year was of the 13-inch Toshiba Portege R705, a slim high-end laptop that managed to pack in a solid set of components for around $800. It became one of my go-to recommendations for people who liked the look and feel of MacBooks, but wanted to either spend a few hundred dollars less, or had to stay on Windows.

But in 2011, the still-popular system was hampered by being stuck on Intel’s previous processor platform, while newer laptops moved to the latest Core i-series Sandy Bridge chips, which offered both outstanding performance and excellent battery life.

Fortunately, the revamped R800 series is here, and not only does it add new Intel Core i3 and i5 CPUs, but it also includes a USB 3.0 port. Even better, it keeps the prices steady, ranging from $888 to $929. We’ve just gotten our hands on a Portege R835-P56X, which includes an Intel Core i5-2410M. It’s one of the $929 models, and for about $40, the upgrade from Core i3 to Core i5 seems like a no-brainer.

Other than the new components, the R800 laptops look and feel almost exactly like the R700 ones. That’s a good thing, as we like the brushed metal chassis, slim design (although not as slim as the Samsung Series 9 or the MacBook Air), and light weight, starting at a hair over three pounds.

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