Review Toshiba Portege Z830 Ultrabook

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The Toshiba Portege Z830 is the company's first Ultrabook. Well, the Best Buy Z835 version that came out at the end of 2011 was their first, but now Best Buy's exclusive has ended and you can buy the Z835 and Z830 in a variety of configurations. That's a good thing since the laptop is now available with more powerful Intel Core i5 and i7 ULV CPUs, and the Z830 comes with a matte rather than glossy display. The Z830 has quickly become one of my favorite Ultrabooks thanks to its extreme light weight, strong performance with faster CPUs and good port selection.

The Toshiba Portege Z830 is available now, and prices start at $1,199 for the Core i5 model with 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD. The Z830 line has a matte display and a fingerprint scanner with TPM. All Z830 and Z835 models have Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics and have Intel Wi-Fi dual band 802.11n with WiDi (Wireless Display) support. The Z835 line is more affordable since it ships with Windows Home Premium rather than Professional, and there are lower end configurations available like the Core i3 for $799. All models have at least 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD drive.

Toshiba Portege Z830 Ultrabook

Design and Ports

The 2.47 lb. Portege Z830 is currently the lightest 13.3" Ultrabook on the market, and it's just 0.33-0.63" thick. You'd think a few ounces to a half pound wouldn't be noticeable, but it makes the Lenovo IdeaPad U300 and HP Folio 13 Ultrabooks feel a little heavy. The Toshiba Portege Z830 and Z835 models have a magnesium alloy casing with honeycomb reinforcement, and a very plain design. It's not flashy like the Asus Zenbook, nor does it mimic a journal like the Lenovo U300, but I like the clean lines. The only thing I don't like is the lid flex; the price we pay for the laptop's low weight and thin profile.

Display and Keyboard

The machine has the usual 1366 x 768 TN LED backlit panel, making Asus the leader in Ultrabook resolution with their 1600 x 900 resolution Zenbook UX31. The Z830 has a matte display while the Z835 line has a glossy display. You can build to order with either display and there's no price difference. In terms of display quality, they're quite similar and neither has stunning brightness, though they're perfectly adequate for indoor use. Colors on the matte display are very rich (a tad oversaturated looking when brightness is set high), and contrast is good for a matte display. We noted higher apparent contrast vs. the Samsung Series 7 Chronos 15.6" laptop that also ships with a matte TN display.

The Synaptics trackpad is slightly offset to the left, and it has chromed buttons that are a little slippery and stiff--a deadly combination. My finger tended to slip off the key as I tried to apply sufficient pressure. Again, it's not a dealbreaker, but it could've been done better. The trackpad supports multi-touch and gestures, and though small, there's enough room to make use of these features. The fingerprint scanner lives between the two mouse buttons.

Toshiba Portege Z830 Ultrabook

Performance and Horsepower

Our review unit is the maxed out $1,429 model with a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-2677M ULV CPU, 6 gigs of DDR3 RAM (most Ultrabooks have 4 gigs) and a fast Toshiba 128 gig SSD (currently the only drive option). Toshiba says that RAM isn't user upgradeable, so if you want 6 gigs, you'll need to order the machine with 6 gigs rather than upgrade it later yourself.

Conclusion

The Toshiba Portege Z830 is the best equipped and lightest Ultrabook currently on the market. It has more ports and you won't feel like you've given up expandability for extreme portability. It's insanely light at 2.48 lbs. and very thin. In short, it's a real pleasure to carry. That diet has a drawback or two though: there's lots of lid flex and the notebook has a hollow feel to it when you press surfaces.

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Price: $1,429 as tested, price starts at $899 for the Z835 with Intel Core i3 CPU.
Website: www.toshiba.com
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Specs:

  • Display: 13.3", 1366 x 768 pixel TN LED backlit display. Matte display for Z830, gloss for Z835. Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics. HDMI and VGA ports.
  • Battery: 45 watt/hour, 8 cell Lithium Ion rechargeable (sealed inside). Compact world charger included.
  • Performance: 1.4GHz Intel Core i3-2367M, 1.6 GHz Intel 2nd generation ULV Core i5-2457M and 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-2677M CPU options. 4 or 6 gigs DDR3 RAM, 128 gig SATA III SSD drive. No internal optical drive. Intel QS67 Express Chipset (Sandy Bridge).
  • Size: 12.44 x 8.94 x 0.33-0.63 (at thickest point) inches. Weight: 2.47 pounds.
  • Camera: 1.3MP webcam.
  • Audio: Stereo speakers, 3.5mm stereo headphone jack and 3.5mm mic jack.
  • Networking: Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 dual channel WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Intel Bluetooth 3.0 +HS. Intel 82579LM gigabit Ethernet and RJ45 jack.
  • Software: Windows 7 Home Professional 64 bit for Z830 and Home Premium for Z835.
  • Expansion and Ports: 1 SD card slot, one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports (one sleep and charge), 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks, mini VGA port (dongle adapter with stanard VGA port included).
  • In the Box: laptop, charger, and printed material.

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