Toshiba Portege Z30t - The portable workhorse

Launch SRP: S$2799

Overview, Design and Features

Overview

The Portege series is Toshiba's long running category of notebooks tailored for business users, and the Portege Z30t is one of the company's premier slim-line model that's made for heavy duty mobile warriors. This 13.3-inch Ultrabook is the touch version of the Portege Z30 released last year, and is so portable and lightweight that we could have easily mistaken it for a dummy model. The older Z30 came with an unimpressive screen with a 1366 x 768 pixels resolution display. Thankfully, the refreshed Z30t that will retail from the end of July 2014 have bumped the display to Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution, as well as adding the long-needed multi-touch capability. The Z30t (with the "t" denoting touch) is what we've got our hands on for this review.

Our unit runs on Windows 8.1, powered by the latest fourth-generation Intel Core i7 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, with integrated Intel HD 4400 graphics and a 10-finger multi-touch display. This configuration will set you back a hefty S$2,799, and we're told that this will be the only configuration available, which is odd as there usually are a few other configuration options for processing power, RAM and storage (the latter contributes a fair bit since it's using solid state drives).

 

Design and Build

Dimensions-wise, as a 13.3-incher the Toshiba Portege Z30t is a compact and lightweight business notebook, and not much larger than a stack of A4 paper. This is one solid machine with a magnesium alloy chassis, complete with a 'Magnesium Silver' finish, with an internal honeycomb structure for added sturdiness. This is pretty much the same DNA that's utilized in notebooks like the older Z830 and Z930 models. It looks darker than one would expect from a silver color though, compared to other silver notebooks such as the MacBook Air.

Together with Toshiba’s branding at the bottom corner instead of the middle, this Ultrabook remains relatively low-key, something that its target market of business users would more likely prefer. The smooth shiny exterior gives it a high-end feel that repels fingerprint marks, which we expect with its premium positioning.

 

Being a business Ultrabook, it comes with the usual slew of ports for productivity and presentation purposes. It has three USB 3.0 ports, supporting a combination of external hard drives, thumbdrives and/or mouse simultaneously without issues. It also comes with a full sized HDMI and VGA ports for connecting to external projectors or monitors, but lacks a Mini DisplayPort that is more commonly found in competing models that caters to more modern monitors. Even so, the HDMI and VGA combination should suffice for most needs.

For busy executives on-the-go who carry their notebook with them everywhere, a Kensington Security Slot gives users the option of attaching a cable and lock for added security. You can also opt for fingerprint verification during login to protect your data from prying busybodies.

 

Keyboard and Trackpad

The Portege Z30t comes with a chiclet-style keyboard with a blue pointing stick residing among the square keys. When you first place your fingers on the keyboard, you might find the keys a little small, especially for users with larger hands and fingers.

Fortunately, in actual use, typing on it didn’t prove to be a problem. There is also substantial travel and tactile feedback, giving you confidence that your keystroke is registered without having to exert much force. The audible yet non-distracting clicky sound gives much satisfaction as well.

The Toshiba Z30t has no lack of navigation options. Generally, users would use the touchscreen for most of the button pressing and scrolling activities, but if you prefer to keep your fingers near the keyboard, you can use the blue pointing stick or the touchpad to control the mouse cursor.

The pointing stick feels rough to the touch, and might even be described as unfinished. It provides good friction, but does not seem to fit in when placed among the smooth keys and metallic chassis of the Z30t, more so with its bright blue hue and rough texture. It does its job and tracks accurately, but users coming from Lenovo and Dell pointing sticks might have differing views regarding the prickly touch.

The touchpad comes with two buttons, for left and right clicks, placed directly below the spacebar for the convenience of pointing stick users. You can also click at the bottom corners of the touchpad (otherwise also known as a clickpad), marked by two subtle raised grooves, which is a nice touch so you don’t have to tear your eyes away from the screen. The navigation area is pretty roomy, but again, you probably won’t use it as much with the touchscreen panel available. The touchpad has a smooth surface, with minimal friction while we enjoy effortlessly gliding our cursor across the screen.

And south of the trackpad is a horizontal silver piece housing the fingerprint reader and three indicator lights - battery/charging, power on/off and read/write. We feel that the indicator lights are at an odd position -- instead of residing near the screen where users will look at most often, they are near to your chest, and might even be obstructed from view if you are a lefty. An alternative location is to place these indicator lights at the front edge such that when the notebook's lid is lowered or closed, you can still check on the status of the notebook effortlessly.

8.0
Design
8.5
Features
8
Performance
7.5
Value
7.5
Mobility
8.5
The Good
Lightweight
Premium feel
Business security features
The Bad
Pointing stick feels rough and unfinished
Keys not large enough if you have large hands, but it's usable