We've reviewed a number of Toshiba notebooks, from their gaming and multimedia versions to business machines. Now with the Portege Z830, we can add "Ultrabook" to the growing list. We first showcased this thin and light machine at a launch event last month.
While Toshiba's pricing strategy generally hasn't been very attractive, there is one thing we’re sure every manufacturer should learn from Toshiba’s R series of products (and now the Z) -- long notebook battery life. Sure, the battery life for the Toshiba Qosmio X770 was abysmal, but that’s because it isn’t meant to be portable. Business machines made to be portable like the Toshiba Portege R830, and a few Porteges before that, have amazing battery life. On top of that, the Portege R830 is incredibly light-weight and as a result, boasted incredibly good portability score.
So in case you hadn’t guess what we want from our Ultrabooks, here it is: amazing battery life without the bulk. Every other feature on Ultrabooks such as the processor, RAM, screen, SSD and so on, have little variation. Even so, how a notebook vendor optimizes the battery life of all of these components from the hardware and software level is still an important aspect to get as much mileage out of them.
It also depends on the kind of battery that has been paired with the notebook. All of these factors come together to become the machine you need to depend on when on the road. So will the 13-inch Z830 continue the proud Portege tradition of long battery life? We’ll find out in the battery performance section of this review. For now, we check out the build quality and exterior elements of the Z830.
The Core i7 processor based Toshiba Portege Z830 is one of the rare Ultrabooks that offers all kinds of ports you’d expect to see in a business machine. We’ve got the conventional VGA (for folks who do powerpoint presentations with old business projectors), USB 2.0 ports, a full-sized HDMI port, the usual audio jacks, SD card-reader, RJ45 LAN port, and even the newer USB 3.0 port. Select business models of the Z830 even offer the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip, and a fingerprint reader. Just these last two features alone would make your IT department shout out “yes!” to your pleas for a Toshiba Ultrabook - hopefully.
Looks-wise, the Z830 isn’t outstanding. In fact it doesn’t even count as the top three most handsome Ultrabooks we’ve seen. Its appearances are strictly utilitarian, which in itself presents a kind of charm through simplicity. The next most obvious aspect that would grab your attention is its very thin form factor. In fact, thinnest (15.9mm) in the world, for now. It’s also very light, so light that Toshiba claims it’s the lightest (1.12kg) Ultrabook in the world (again, for now).
The lid is covered in brushed magnesium alloy, the material of choice for some manufacturers now. Magnesium alloy here doesn’t feel as hard as aluminium alloy, so the lid itself may feel somewhat flimsy. We’re not sure if having a flimsy lid is such a good idea on a machine that is already so thin and light, but during our time with the machine, the lid didn’t present any problems whatsoever.
Handling the very thin laptop was also relatively trouble-free, with no ungainly weight distribution issues noticed. Holding it in your hands just feels like you’re carrying a women’s magazine (because they're usually on the heavier side). There is some flex present throughout the machine, but it’s not much of an issue, and you can easily wield the thin little machine around like if it were a (thick) folder filled with paper.
Unlike other Ultrabooks we’e seen so far, the Toshiba Portege Z830 seems to be the only manufacturer (so far) to have an Ultrabook that has a cluttered looking bottom, with lots of screws and even a cool looking heat vent. However there could be a reason to Toshiba’s design choice, when all other manufacturers have little to no features on the bottom of the machine.
Having screws scattered around the underbelly simply means that your friendly IT guy can easily open it up and fix any hardware issues you have with the machine (and the same goes for Toshiba's support staff for easy servicing). Or you could just send it back to Toshiba, but if your IT guy was any good, you’d be up and running by the time you pick up the phone to call for a courier personnel from Toshiba. That said, upgrading internal components would be relatively pain-free as well, as long as you have the technical know-how.