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The T235D in the flesh
As someone who still considers 13" notebooks to offer the best blend of portability and functionality, I immediately saw a lot to like in the T235D. Weighing less than four pounds and measuring only 0.7" at its thinnest point, this system feels more grown-up but nearly as svelte as its sub-12" ultraportable brethren. Here, the larger form factor gets you not just a bigger LCD panel, but also a larger keyboard and touchpad.

Internally, the T235D ticks all the right boxes, too. Our review sample is the T235D-S1345 model, which packs a 1.5GHz dual-core Turion II Neo, four gigs of DDR3 RAM, and Windows 7 Home Premium x64. Toshiba largely didn't skimp on bells and whistles, either:

Processor AMD Turion II Neo K625 1.5GHz
Memory 4GB DDR3-800 (2 DIMMs)
Chipset AMD M880G
Graphics Mobility Radeon HD 4225 integrated graphics
Display 13.3" TFT with WXGA (1366x768) resolution and LED backlight
Storage Toshiba MK3265GSX 320GB 2.5" 5,400 RPM hard drive
Audio Stereo HD audio via Realtek codec
Ports 2 USB 2.0
1 eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port
1 HDMI
1 VGA
1 RJ45 10/100 Ethernet via Realtek controller
1 analog headphone output
1 analog microphone input
Expansion slots
1 MMC/SDHC
Communications 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi via Atheros AR9285
Input devices Chiclet keyboard
Synaptics capacitive touchpad
Internal microphone
Camera 0.3-megapixel webcam
Dimensions 12.7" x 8.8" x 0.7-1.03" (323 x 224 x 18-26 mm)
Weight 3.9 lbs (1.8 kg)
Battery 6-cell Li-Ion (61 Wh)

Yes, there's even a powered eSATA port that doubles as a USB port. The only notable omission here is Bluetooth—a disappointing one, especially since the front of the chassis has an LED spot specially reserved for Bluetooth activity. Toshiba omitted an optical drive, too, but those are very rare on ultraportables in general. And let's face it: when was the last time you had to load up something from an old CD or DVD?

This particular variant of the T235D sells for $599.99 at Newegg. The cheapest 13" laptops with Intel CULV processors, like Acer's Aspire AS3810TZ or Toshiba's own T235-S1310, are priced almost identically at around $590-600. Looks like AMD is up in the big leagues, gettin' its turn at bat. Think of the T235D's price tag as a flashing banner with the words, "Nile notebooks are just as good or better than CULV notebooks." We've included a slightly more upscale sibling of the AS3810TZ in our comparison today, so we'll be putting that implied claim to the test.

Aesthetics are subjective, of course, but I can't say I hate the look of the thing. Jeez, though. Could Toshiba have put any more stickers on the palm rest? I count not one, not two, not three, but four stickers attesting to the system's eco-friendliness. There's even a sticker advertising Skype "voice & video calling" near the power button, for goodness' sake.

Toshiba hasn't escaped the temptation to give the T235D's top lid a glossy finish, either. The dark tones and textured patterns should help conceal smudges and fingerprints to some extent, but don't seek the solace of brushed aluminum or bamboo here.

In my book, the T235D gets a pass on its aesthetic faux-pas for its delightfully compact build. Note the comparison shot above, with the system propped on top of my 13" aluminum MacBook. While the Toshiba does look thicker overall, note how thin the lower portion of the machine is by comparison, especially near the front. In everyday use, those dimensions make the T235D feel much tighter and more portable.

My only real grievance here is with the power plug. Just look at that thing. It's huge! The solid part protrudes almost two inches to the left of the laptop, just begging to get snagged onto something when you're sitting on the couch. At least couch use won't be further impeded by neutering heat. The T235D stays relatively cool when it's not under a particularly strenuous load, with the fan exhaust rarely blowing out air much hotter than room temperature.