11.6" ultraportables have their place, and 17" mobile workstations can be great for gaming and serious work, but I'm more partial to 13.3" notebooks—they're manageable to tote around yet large enough to pack serious hardware. As it happens, Engadget reports that Toshiba has unveiled a new family of thin-and-light 13" laptops with tantalizing perks: Sandy Bridge processors, magnesium alloy casings, and prices starting at $899.
The cheapest of the Portege R830 Series, the R835-ST3N01, packs a dual-core Core i3-2310M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 640GB 5,400-RPM hard drive, Bluetooth 3.0, external Serial ATA connectivity, a DVD burner, and a 66-Wh battery rated for up to nine hours of run time. Spending a little extra gets you a quicker Core i5-2410M processor, but I'm not seeing a whole lot of differentiation between the different models on Toshiba's website.
What's really impressive is that Toshiba managed to squeeze everything into a good-looking chassis with a weight of 3.2 lbs and a thickness of 0.72-1.05". Assuming Toshiba sprang for a decent keyboard and touchpad, this could be quite a bargain.