Toshiba's thin-but-full-powered Portege R700 was such a hit among business types that the company is now designing other machines in its svelte image. Tosh just unveiled the Tecra R840 and R850 -- both of which ape the R700's slim build -- along with the Portege R830, a refresh to the R700 itself. The R830 looks the same, though it has a strip on the edge of the lid that looks like it's made of magnesium alloy, but is actually plastic -- a material that's expected to improve the signals of the the various antennae housed underneath it. And -- surprise, surprise -- this refresh adds a USB 3.0 port and Intel Sandy Bridge processor, which the company says should bump the rated battery life to a max of 11 hours, up from eight. Not the corporate type? The company will also sell an $889 consumer version, the R835, that has a one-, not three-year, warranty, and loses enterprise-grade features -- namely, Intel's vPro technology, a docking connector, and an ExpressCard slot.
Meanwhile, the 14-inch R840 and 15.6-inch R850 are also getting Sandy Bridge CPUs, USB 3.0 ports, chiclet keyboards and all-around trimmer silhouettes. These laptops are now made with fiberglass-reinforced casing and the same Honeycomb rib structure that made last year's R700 sturdy enough to grab one-handed. Of the two, the R840's slim-down is more dramatic: it's 25 percent thinner than the last-generation Tecra M11, as you can see in the comparison shots past the break. That's largely thanks to Intel's Airflow Cooling technology, which rearranges all of the heat-generating components in a row and draws in cool air from outside the notebook, instead of within. And Tosh claims the battery can last up to ten hours on a charge (11 with an SSD) -- a vast improvement over the five and a half to six hours it promised the last time around. Moving up in size to the R850 will get you a number pad, but not that cooling technology. But it is about an inch thick at its thinnest, a point the PC maker is pleased as punch about. The R830, R840, and R850 start at $1,049, $899, and $879, respectively, and are available now on Toshiba's site, with the consumer-friendly R835 on sale at Best Buy and through the Microsoft Store.