Archive for October, 2010

Praise the Toshiba R500 with its transflective screen.

October 2, 2010

This is a love song to a very special notebook: the Toshiba R500. I bought mine second hand at 350 euro inclusive vat, and have never been more merrier with a gadget. The secret? Its transflective lcd screen!

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In magazines you see a lot af ads where a person is in a hangmat on the beach in the blazing sun, working a bit on her laptop. How come you never see this in reality? On al fresco patios, in gardens, in boats, on the beach, one rarely sees a person checking the mail or doing other stuff on a notebook.

Washed out
The reason for this is that lcd screens are useless in bright light. They are backlit, and any sunlight coming in reduces the contrast to a point where the screen is illegable. Another factor is that most notebooks these days are not equiped with a mat coating, so the glare of the glass adds to making the screen unusable.

Transflective
Toshiba releases the R500 12.1 notebook In 2008 and had a first with shipping a notebook with transflective lcd screen, as a standard. You see, transflective screens are used in cell phones amd special laptops and tablets for dedicated uses: the military, geo/outdoor surveillance and utilities and so on. Often rugged, these devices cost a few thousand doallrs easily. Never before was a consumer/office notebook endowed with a transflective screen as part of the standard configuration.

This device is the notebook for the sun worshipper, the cafe patio worrior, the kitesurfer that want to get online when no wind. So given this “ideal image” of the ads, how come that after the decontinuation of the R500/R600 series, there has never again been a similar notebook?

I assume the notebook was not that big a success. And that is to a large textent (imho) can be attributed to bad marketing from Toshiba’s side. The promotions of the R500 tout the screen technology in a uch too technical way. Typically for a tech company Toshiba is proud on the specifications. But the marketing must be aimed at the advantages for the buyer: I have not seen one ad wioth a guy on the beach or in the hang mat with the TR500 on its lap. The only real place for thispicture so often misued in all kind of other ads.

Als the name says a lot: R500. It says its nothing special, just a model number.  Of course, this notebook should have been given a special name, like SunBook or BeachBook or Outdoor Nomad. A neam that appeals to  its very special and unique use cases.

Tablet
Now a couple of years later, the tablet is the form factor for the outdoor life. Alas, I know of no tablets with a transflective screen. I habve an iPad but its glossy screen and non0-transflective screen make it almost unaulable in sunligjt. You can crank p the brightnedd to max level and be able to read a mail in the sahde under a tree.