The Toshiba Satellite R25 convertible tablet has a few things going for it: it’s relatively inexpensive; it has a beautiful, 14.1-inch wide-screen display; and its long list of features includes a built-in dual-layer DVD burner. Unfortunately those advantages come at the cost of portability; the 7-pound Satellite R25 is far too heavy for mobile handheld use. If you’re looking for a notebook to use primarily at your desk but still want the tablet option to take handwritten notes, consider the Satellite R25. Otherwise, look to a traditional notebook such as the Dell Latitude D520.
The Satellite R25 takes its styling cues from Toshiba’s business-oriented Tecra line. Like the Tecra M6, the Satellite R25 has a silver lid and keyboard deck with black plastic on the bottom of the case. Measuring 13.7 inches wide, 10.2 inches deep, and 1.6 inches thick, the Satellite R25 is wider and slightly thicker than its predecessor, the Satellite R15. It’s also less than a half-inch wider than the Dell Latitude D520 and the Gateway CX200X convertible tablet. The Satellite R25’s 7-pound weight is downright heavy for a notebook and heavier than the Gateway CX200X, the Dell Latitude D520, and the Satellite R15. With its AC adapter, the convertible Satellite R25 hits the road at a whopping 7.9 pounds–clearly, this large tablet isn’t designed for frequent travel.
While the Satellite R15 had a standard-aspect XGA display, the Satellite R25 has a 14.1-inch, wide-screen display. The screen’s impressive 1,440×900 native resolution makes it possible to watch 1080p HD content without shrinking the video. This resolution also provides a vast document work space that can show 22 columns and 42 rows in a standard spreadsheet and can display a word processing document at 165 percent without need for horizontal scrolling.
Dazzlingly high display resolution aside, the multimedia experience on the Satellite R25 is average. The notebook’s speakers sound good at low volumes, but when we tried to pump out Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy at top volumes, it sounded a bit like a cover by the Chipmunks. There is, however, a full complement of multimedia keys to the left of the keyboard, as well as a hardware volume dial next to the headphone and microphone jacks on the notebook’s front lip.
The Satellite R25 shares features found on most other convertible notebooks. The display is mounted on a single, centrally located hinge that rotates 180 degrees, meaning the notebook can close with the LCD panel facing in or out. When you face the display outward and close the lid, the display switches to portrait mode for easier writing. Writing with the Satellite R25’s stylus is rather comfortable, though the display’s smooth surface keeps it from feeling like a pen on paper. When converting the R25 to tablet mode, we had a hard time removing the stylus from its storage slot–annoying, but probably a good way to keep from losing it. Three quick-launch keys, a rotate-screen key, and a mini-joystick button help you navigate menus while using the tablet; a fingerprint reader at the bottom of the display bezel lets you log on to your network with the swipe of a finger.
Though the ability to quickly convert to tablet mode is undoubtedly cool, it detracts from the primary notebook experience–the display on the Satellite R25, attached to the base by a single center hinge, wobbles at the lightest touch. The rest of the Satellite R25’s notebook features are average. Its keyboard is only slightly narrower than full size, and as on many other Toshiba notebooks, common keys are placed in strange locations. The Windows button, for example, is on the upper right. The Satellite R25’s touch pad and mouse buttons are slightly small, and the pad lacks a dedicated scroll zone.
Unlike more lightweight tablets, the Satellite R25 has a plethora of ports, including FireWire, S-Video, VGA, and four USB 2.0 ports; headphone and microphone jacks; a slot for PC Cards (but not the latest ExpressCards); and a 5-in-1 memory card reader that supports Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, and xD Picture Card. It comes with an Ethernet jack, 802.11a/b/g wireless, and a 56Kbps modem, but neither Bluetooth nor WWAN. The Satellite R25 also includes a sweet integrated dual-layer DVD burner.