Toshiba R500 world’s lightest, thinnest notebook. 64GB flash hard drive…

Slim: this is one sleek notebook. (Click to enlarge)

Toshiba’s new Portege R500 notebook computer is the world’s lightest thinnest notebook with the longest battery life according to Toshiba. And it still has a DVD super-multi burner. Drool.

On top of all that the notebook packs a 64 GB high-speed NAND flash solid-state disk drive rather than a traditional 1.8″ or 2.5″ hard-drive.

The notebook has a 12.1-inch screen weighs just under 999 grams and is only 19.5mm thin.

It also uses a transflective LED backlit screen so that if you’re using the notebook in bright sunlight the light is actually reflected back out of the screen providing excellent visibility even under bright light. (In fact Toshiba recommends turning off the LED backlighting to save power if you’re in bright sunlight.)

Toshiba claims a 12 hour battery life (take with a bucketload of salt of course; the truth will come out in real-life APC Labs battery testing where a normal computing workload is simulated) via a six-cell battery.

The optical drive used in the machine is only 7mm thick — that’s only a couple of millimetres above and below the disc itself which frankly is a marvel of engineering. And it’s still a burner not just a reader.

Toshiba also claims this notebook makes less fan noise than most because its SSD drive generates much less heat which reduces cooling requirements.

“The secret to the Portege R500’s ultra light and slim design lies in Toshiba’s proprietary High Density Mounting Technology” the company said in a statement today.

“With this process Toshiba engineers have been able to shrink the size of the notebook’s motherboard by 35 per cent innovate a super-thin LCD screen and 7mm DVD SuperMulti drive and reduce the weight of the notebook hinges. This process allows key technologies to be included in the Portege R500 without adding additional weight.”

Although one doesn’t usually expect much in terms of CPU power from an ultraportable notebook the R500 includes an Intel Core 2 Duo ULV processor running at 1.2GHz. The standard configuration is 1GB of RAM.

Tosh also claims the unit is ruggedised to withstand small drops and spills. It has a magnesium-alloy case and during product design underwent the “75cm drop test” and even “liquid submergence test”. (Yes according to the dictionary that does mean “to put under water”… but we’d be fascinated to know more from Toshiba about how well an R500 would actually survive under such circumstances.)

The screen is designed in a “floating” mechanism which means it is deliberately designed to move slightly if the case receives a knock or pressure in order to avoid cracking.

But the very best feature of all is left till last on the press release — this one will be a big selling point. “An enlarged Toshiba logo for fashionable portability”. Hmmm.

The Portege R500 comes with a three year international parts and labour warranty which includes free courier pick-up and return in Australia and New Zealand if something goes wrong. You’ve got to hand it to Tosh — they may not be the cheapest but they provide excellent service. (And let’s face it if you rely on a notebook you do not want to be without it for very long at any time.)

Surprisingly the Portege R500 is not as expensive as it could be: it has an RRP of $3300 or $4125 depending on what model you select. The cheaper model trades the 64GB SSD drive for a 120GB traditional hard drive. Both models come with Vista Business and have draft 802.11n and Bluetooth built in.

Left ports: VGA port USB port (with interesting looking ‘lightning bolt’ symbol possibly indicating that this port is high-enough powered for external harddrives) mini Firewire 400 port heat vents USB (without lightning bolt) microphone headphones volume

Right ports: wireless on-off switch USB (no lightning bolt) ethernet kensington cable lock (built into screen hinge… interesting)