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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  • Henk Poley - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    Shouldn't that read silver, instead of sliver? The typo is made several times. Reply
  • dszc - Friday, November 18, 2011 - link

    For me, the ultrabook concept is a bulls-eye!
    EXACTLY what I need.

    I need to get real work done when I travel. And I must travel more than I want to.
    The Zenbook looks almost perfect. But it has that stupid Asus "keyboard" and an inadequate glossy panel TN display. Give me a real display and keyboard and I'll glady pay an extra $100-200.

    This new Toshiba Z835 completely misses the mark and the concept. It is just a glorified netbook. Nothing "ULTRA" about it. Same problem with the Macbook Air. At least Asus with their Zenbook is on the right track.

    I'm a photographer and am always processing RAW files in Lightroom and Photoshop. That takes horsepower. The i7 and SSD in the Zenbook have it. The laptop needs to be small enough to easily add to carry-on when flying, and it needs to fit on a airline fold-down tray. Probably 13". It needs enough battery life to last cross-country. And maybe a spare battery for trans-Atlantic.
    With the Zenbook, whenver I have 5-10 minutes I could just pop it out and finish another picture (project/spreadsheet/fill-in-the-blank). With my current Asus G51 beast, with its ~10lb+ travel weight, by the time I find an electrical outlet, get it plugged in and booted up, my 10 minutes is gone and I have done no work.

    For storage, a small 2.5" external USB3 makes the most sense. All my data and files stay on there and I can just plug that into my desktop or anyone else's computer when not traveling.

    This ultrabook concept is perfect for me. Until it came along, I had no hope. Now, all of a sudden, The Zenbook and Lenovo's high-powered entry are very close!
    Reply
  • Sunburn74 - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Anand is a real screen junkie. It makes his articles incredibly hard to interprete. Whilst he writes off laptops that haveTN panels with 1366x788 resolutions and are glossy, I personally have used said laptops and don't care or eve notice the screen. I dont work outdoors. I don't spend all my time looking at my windows icons. I don't game on my laptop. I watch the occasional movie on it and do so in crowded environments where I am always distracted by the time, the people, when the bus/train will come, etc. I am a completely normal person with completely normal usage patterns and to me the ultrabooks are highly appealing.

    I have never cared about the screen as long as its reasonably functional. I very feel people who buy macs also really don't care either (the imac is IPS, the mac air is TN and no one cares).
    Reply
  • Sternreisender - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - link

    I picked the Z835 up at BB at the end of November. My last laptop died a few weeks before and I had just come into the required monies so I was chomping at the bit. My requirements were SSD, backlit keyboard, ultrabook.

    I could have waited for the Folio13 but honestly, I've been happy. Main usage is web browsing/movie watching. I wanted portability. It feels fragile, sure, but I'm willing to accept that. Been very happy with battery life.

    I understand there are many sacrifices others don't want to make, but just wanted to throw that out there. :)
    Reply
  • shorty lickens - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

    Its 699 at Best Buy this week, which makes it an easier pill to swallow. Of course I bet a lot of folks are waiting for the next generation which has better stats and a more reasonable price. Reply

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