The Toshiba Portege Z835 is No Sliver Queen

Ignoring my godawful joke of a headline, the Toshiba Portege Z835 is initially fairly impressive to behold. Toshiba uses a brushed aluminum aesthetic for almost the entire notebook, with a matching gray plastic bottom cover. Physically, the main body of the notebook doesn't flex at all; good news given the stunningly thin 0.63" profile. It really does look like a sliver, with only a bit of tapering around the top of the lid and the front of the body to keep it from looking boxy.

Unfortunately, while the body feels pretty firm, the Z835 absolutely gives up the ghost with the screen, lid, and hinges. The screen and lid are extremely thin, and the hinges are pretty wobbly. There's a tremendous amount of flex with the screen, enough to give me real pause. Screens on laptops are always a little flexy, but on the Z835 I feel like even my dire tyrannosaurus rex arms could snap it in half. The bezel also seems unusually wide on all sides, which is a bit of a disappointment after seeing the incredibly slender one used on Dell's XPS 14z.

Other reviews have complained about the keyboard quality, but this isn't the worst keyboard I've seen from Toshiba, much less the industry. Toshiba's chiclet layout is usually pretty smart, but the one on the Z835 and its cousin, the R830, is literally an inch from greatness. Seriously, an inch on the y-axis: the keys are simply too short. When I look at the shell of the Z835, I can't help but feel like the keys could've been lengthened just a little bit. Travel also for the most part feels fine, but the keys are also fairly mushy. I don't think the keyboard is a lost cause, but it definitely needs to be revised. Layout is fine, just fix the overall size and quality. The chassis has room for both.

Thankfully the touchpad is extremely smooth and easy to use, and at least has a dedicated surface as opposed to being just part of the shell. The buttons feel a bit mushy and are made of the same cheap looking silver plastic as on the hinges, but they're definitely usable and this is far from the worst touchpad I've used. I have no problem navigating with it.

Finally, the bottom panel is held on by an embarassment of screws, and it bows a bit if you push on it. Even after removing all the screws I still couldn't remove the panel for fear of damaging the Z835, so if you're going to buy it, you'd better buy the configuration you want. There's a single vent for a fan that bubbles out a bit, but honestly I found the Z835 ran extremely cool anyhow.

Ultimately the Z835 looks pretty good and I'd dispute other reviews that call it out as looking too chintzy or cheap. The problem is that in places it does feel cheaper than you'd like, and I just don't like how much the top and bottom panels flex, especially the lid. Intel's $1,000 price point for ultrabooks is pretty pie-in-the-sky, and the sacrifices Toshiba had to make to beat it are evidence of that.

Introducing the Toshiba Portege Z835 Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • r3loaded - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Amen to that. I also find it difficult to understand why it's so hard for them to put an IPS screen on them either. Practically every tablet that wants to be taken seriously has such a screen, yet it's a rarity outside of Lenovo/HP's top-end models. They shouldn't moan about cost either - it's a premium product, it deserves premium components and hence should have a premium price (which I and many others are ready to pay for).

    Tablets have 1280x800 IPS screens in a 10-inch form factor. We shouldn't have to put up with 1366x768 TN in a premium 13-inch ultra portable in 2011/2012.
    Reply
  • solipsism - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    IPS costs more money and users more power. On a 7" or 10" display that isn't too bad, especially when you powering it off ARM, but consider a proper notebook with a 13", 15," or 17" IPS panel. Thing gets a lot tricker.

    This will eventually change just as HiDPI resolutions on notebooks will eventually change, but that time just isn't hear yet. You can look at Apple's limited product line for examples: iPHone and iPad are iPS, iMacs and Cinema Displays are IPS, notebooks are all TN.
    Reply
  • Penti - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    15" HP's with IPS-panels uses panels specced to 15W for example. You can't really use something that aren't manufactured. Reply
  • Narrlok - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    ASUS UX31 Zenbook

    1600*900 on 13.3"
    - check

    Super good contrast and good brightness
    - super high brightness like the MBA according to Anand's review of the UX21, contrast suffers though

    Offer matte and glossy
    - nope, no other alternatives either currently :( Sony does offer Vaios with a matte 13.1" screen with a 1600*900 resolution
    Reply
  • medi01 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    16:9 and 16:10 screens suck badly. Bring good old 4:3 back and I'm sold. Reply
  • tzhu07 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Are you 65 years old or something? Reply
  • HMTK - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    No, he probably wants to do other things than watch movies. Like... work. Reply
  • JoeMcJoe - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Exactly.

    16:9 display ratios even on desktop monitors aren't the best for working on.
    Reply
  • tzhu07 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Oh really? I think my 2560 X 1440 desktop monitor suits me just fine for poductivity work. But then again, once you get up to the 2560 spec, 1440 or 1600 is plenty. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    My 1920x1200 IPS at work is also very nice for work. And with enough vertical space you can actually start to use the horizontal space by not running everything full screen.

    MrS
    Reply

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