Introducing the Toshiba Portege Z835

Intel's Ultrabook initiative is a curious one, one that's very gradually picking up interest among vendors. We've already had a chance to take a look at the smaller of the two units from the typically early-out-of-the-gate ASUS, and we know there are other ultrabooks out there from Lenovo and Acer, with only Dell opting to sit out of this round, unconvinced of the viability of Intel's plan. Today, in true Toshiba fashion, we get a chance to look at a more budget-oriented (or at least as budget-oriented as an ultrabook can be) unit: Toshiba's entry-level Portege Z835-P330.

Honestly the impressions start before it even gets out of the box, just because the box itself is so unusually small that you wonder how it could possibly hold a computer. But sure enough, once you open it up you'll see Toshiba's sliver of a notebook. Even if you're used to the MacBook Air, getting an ultrabook in your hands is an interesting experience. It barely weighs anything, and the profile is slim to be sure. It's a testament to how technology has evolved that a notebook like this is even possible, but there were definitely sacrifices made.

Toshiba Portege Z835-P330 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i3-2367M
(2x1.4GHz + HTT, 32nm, 3MB L3, 17W)
Chipset Intel HM65
Memory 2x2GB Samsung DDR3-1333 (Max 6GB)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics
(12 EUs, up to 1GHz)
Display 13.3" LED Glossy 16:9 768p
TOS5091
Hard Drive(s) 128GB Toshiba SG2 mSATA 3Gbps SSD
(rated 180MB/sec read, 70MB/sec write)
Optical Drive -
Networking Intel 82579V Gigabit Ethernet
Intel WiFi Link 1000 802.11b/g/n
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD Audio
Stereo speakers
Mic and headphone jacks
Battery 8-Cell, 14.8V, 47Wh
Front Side N/A (Speaker grilles)
Right Side USB 3.0
Kensington lock
Left Side Mic and headphone jacks
SD card reader
Back Side Ethernet jack
Exhaust vent
2x USB 2.0 (one USB charge)
HDMI
AC adaptor
VGA
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 12.4" x 8.9" x 0.63" (WxDxH)
Weight 2.4 lbs
Extras Webcam
Backlit keyboard
SD card reader
USB 3.0
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
Pricing Starting at $799

Starting at the top of the Toshiba Portege Z830, we have arguably its weakest link: the Intel Core i3-2367M. This processor may be Sandy Bridge hardware, but the anemic 1.4GHz clock speed on the two cores is pretty brutal, and the lack of Turbo Boost (a feature reserved for i5 and i7 processors) only exacerbates things. For basic netbook-style tasks it should still be perfectly fine, but I'll say it right now: anyone interested in the Portege Z830 would do well to wait and upgrade to an i5-equipped unit at least.

Toshiba includes 2GB of DDR3 soldered to the motherboard as well as an expandable 2GB of DDR3-1333. The problem is the Portege Z830 is difficult to get inside of without feeling like you're going to damage it, but on the flipside a cumulative 4GB of DDR3 should be more than adequate for the tasks this notebook is intended for, and this model will likely be throttled by CPU performance long before that memory becomes an issue.

As part of Intel's ultrabook initiative, Toshiba includes a generous 128GB mSATA SSD. Unfortunately, it's not a particularly fast one, rated for just a peak 180MB/sec on reads and 70MB/sec on writes, and using Toshiba's own controller and MLC NAND. So if you were concerned about that 3Gbps interface, rest assured this drive will never saturate it. On the flipside, 128GB of flash (even a comparatively slow SSD) is still a big improvement on a mechanical drive of the same capacity, and the Portege Z830 definitely feels snappier for it.

The one place ultrabooks seem to be succeeding where Apple keeps dropping the ball is connectivity. Apple's willing to sacrifice connectivity by tapering the MacBook Air, making the notebook look slimmer than it really is as a result of the wedge shape. Meanwhile, Toshiba outfits the Z830 with a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a single USB 3.0 port, headphone and microphone jacks, and HDMI and VGA output; Toshiba even keeps a dedicated Ethernet port in the mix. Thunderbolt may have potential, but USB 3.0 is here right now, and it's a lot cheaper to boot.

The Toshiba Portege Z835 is No Sliver Queen
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  • retrospooty - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    "How about 1680x1050, laptop makers :3"

    Yup, my old 15 inch Lenovo T500 w/ 1680x1050 was perfect.

    Sadly, the highest sellers now are these cheap 1366x768 ones, so they keep pushing it. Laptop makers wont stop unless sales drive it. Right now they are selling to the dull masses and it's not about to change.

    At least the ASUS Ultrabook has a 1600x900 option. Pretty good for a 13 incher.
    Reply
  • gorash - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    It's an ultrabook, they'd have to make it at a certain price point (under $1000). Reply
  • name99 - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    "Why are all ultrabook makers idiots?"
    The answer is simple --- but PC heads don't want to hear it.
    As long as buyers AND sellers insist on selling by specs, they are in a commodity market. A market where the device sold is the one that hits the lowest price. These devices are sold by
    - has USB3 --- check
    - has ethernet port --- check
    - can (in theory) expand to more than 4GiB of RAM --- check.

    There's nowhere on that checklist for --- feel of the construction, quality of the keyboard, quality of the screen, delight of the user experience. No place for anything that is not a yes/no answer.
    As long as the PC world buys devices by checkbox criteria, vendors will sell devices by checkbox criteria --- it's as simple as that. If you want out of that world, I'm sorry, but your choice, today is simple --- you buy Apple and you accept the choices Apple makes. You may find your checkbox ethos upset --- what do you mean, no USB3 and no VGA port? You may whine that the price is "too high" for all the checkbox items you are getting --- ignoring the cost and the value of the non-checkbox items you are getting.
    But really, that's the breaks. You cannot expect differently from any other vendor, because that's not the way the economics works. And pretty much none of them have the credibility to insist that: "no, trust us, sure our new product costs 30% more than the competition, when compared by specs, but it really is worth the extra money". Sony certainly can't make such an argument credibly these days. The only possibility I can think of is that maybe Lenovo could.
    But, look at the comments in previous Anand reviews. If Lenovo introduced a really well made ultrabook, selling at Apple prices, I guarantee you MOST of the reviews would be along the lines of: "this is bullshit --- I can get exactly the same features from Toshiba for $300 cheaper. Lenovo screws over the public once again".
    Reply
  • Visual - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Now all I want is for someone to take this thing, give it a better quality display with adequate resolution, nice multitouch layer with active digitizer, make it convertible to tablet mode, with a few programmable buttons on the bezel, and I would be willing to pay double this price.
    Are all those things actually costing the manufacturer more than that? Or why else is noone doing that?

    Add in a better GPU option without massively increasing weight (battery drain won't matter if it can switch back to the IGP, but the cooling should be adequate) and I'd be the happiest person in the world.
    Reply
  • solnyshok - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Screen flex is so extreme, that me Toshiba have developed 2 cracks (one on left, one right side) in the inner plastic frame around the lcd panel. From the forums, I know that many owners have faced this problem, even those that handle device very carefully.

    Important consequence of this is, that despite low weight, Toshiba has almost killed portability of this device - I am afraid to just put it into my backpack or leave it in a luggage. The only way to handle it is to have a well protected bag and keep it on yourself at all times.

    Lastly, did you check this Toshiba, or any other ultrabooks, if they use throttling to prevent overheating? My R630 came with i450m (2.4GHz, turbo to 2.6), but only after couple of months I learned with the help of ThrottleStop, that whole thing is throttled to 50% of performane at all times. Removed it for AC profile, thing is twice faster now and still doesn't overheat.
    Reply
  • e-kirill - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    SSD here is crap also Reply
  • Filiprino - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I won't buy a shitty 768p screen. Reply
  • solnyshok - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    and the screen is awful on R630 (guess it is the same). C'mon Toshiba, I will not be buying another one of the R series with such awful screen and flimsy shell. Reply
  • ibtar - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    There must be some kind of running joke between OEMs about how cheap they can go on these garbage TN panels they throw in these "ultra" books and other laptops until consumers actually start to care (they won't).

    Just give me an IPS panel. I don't care if it's glossy or matte, just give me something that has decent contrast and doesn't gamma shift all over the damn place. Is that so much to ask?
    Reply
  • jackpro - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    The screen resolution needs to be higher. I am sick of scrolling web pages. Please get a clue. Thats why tablets are growing market share, web pages are easier to read duh! Are we not in the web age??? Reply

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