Conclusion: But Who is This For?

Now here's an interesting opportunity: while Anand mostly skirted the ultrabook discussion with his review of the ASUS Zenbook UX21, I have the chance to tackle it head on. But first...does the Toshiba Portege Z835 stand on its own, irrespective of Intel's big ultrabook push? Is this a notebook that we can recommend?

As far as portability is concerned, Toshiba has mostly a homerun on their hands. If you don't take the price tag into account, the Portege Z835 is in many ways directly superior to most netbooks out there. The HD 3000 is a faster graphics core than NVIDIA's NG-ION or AMD's Radeon HD 6310, two pieces of graphics hardware that are unfortunately tied to netbook-class processors. And while the Intel Core i3-2367M's paltry 1.4GHz, turbo-free clock speed is slower than just about anything AMD is willing to sell you above Zacate, it's still substantially faster than Atom or the E-350. To top it all off, the Z835 is cool, quiet, lasts a long time on the battery, and is actually lighter than many netbooks on the market.

The problem is that we do take the price tag into account, and even at $879 for our model, the Z835 is a hard sell. The difference in processor power is great, but I don't think it's enough to open up entirely different usage models from a traditional netbook. Having an SSD standard is also a major benefit, but it's also not something another $100-$200 can't fix when buying a netbook...and that's still going to leave a healthy deficit between the netbook of your choice and the Z835. This also ignores the Z835's mediocre keyboard. Speaking candidly, if I had to choose between the Z835 at $899 and Lenovo's ThinkPad X120e at half that, I'd take the ThinkPad. The E-350 may be a lot slower, but it's still fast enough to handle the same tasks the Z835 would, and it has a more comfortable build. So what if it's a pound heavier? At least it's built to last through several years of use.

Honestly I think a lot of the problems with the Z835 can be laid squarely at Intel's feet, not Toshiba's. The ultrabook initiative invites direct comparison to the Apple MacBook Air, but it's tone deaf to what the appeal of the MacBook Air is. Intel instead came up with a list of bulletpoints and said to vendors, "have at it," but ultimately this is a market that I'm not sure really exists. The MacBook Air has Apple's cachet behind it, and it is the only ultraportable choice Apple offers. If you don't care about OS X, we've had good and even affordable ultraportables available for Windows users for some time now.

The difference between 2.5 lbs. and 3.5 lbs. is comically minor as far as moving a notebook around is concerned. Fighting to get the form factor under an inch thick is just as pointless, an exercise in style rather than practicality. I could be completely blind and out of my depth here, but I just don't see the market an ultrabook serves that a Lenovo ThinkPad X220, Dell XPS 14z, or Sony Vaio SB series couldn't have already served...and better. Windows users who just want something portable to handle word processing and media on have already had the HP dm1z around for a year.

Time could very well prove me wrong on this one. If the ultrabook as a concept appeals to you, the ASUS Zenbook UX21 is probably going to be a better buy. The $999 model may be $100 more than Toshiba's Portege Z835, but it has a much faster CPU, a slightly better screen, better build quality, and a vastly superior SSD. As we're fond of saying here, there are no bad products, only bad prices. Even though comparatively speaking the Z835's $899 price tag isn't unreasonable, in practice I honestly think it would need to go south at least $100-$200 before being worth considering instead of a thicker ultraportable or a netbook. That may not necessarily be Toshiba's fault, but unfortunately Toshiba's stuck with it. The Portege Z835 feels like the best of a bad situation.

Update: The price tag of the Z835 is just $799 at Best Buy. That does make the unit more competitive and definitely worth a second look, but my sentiments regarding ultrabooks in general still stand.

Unfortunately the Display is Dire
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  • jigglywiggly - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Why are all ultrabook makers idiots?
    Really all you have to do to make them sell like hotcakes is:
    1600x900 screen for 13.3 in model
    Super good contrast and good brightness
    Offer matte and glossy

    Seriously, if they had this then they'd be great.
    Reply
  • tzhu07 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Also, get rid of the fucking stickers to the left of the trackpad. Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    The stickers are out of control these days. Please bring the AOL desktop icon back instead. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    While I don't like the stickers either....Toshiba most likely gets discounts for adding those stickers. I'm Certain INTEL marketing department would have a problem if the stickers were not displayed. Intel is ALL about marketing its brand and does a very good job of it.

    Any low-tech consumer is dazzled by these stickers and assume the system is a good purchase. General consumers are mostly dumb and buy primarily on visual information instead of factual research. How else could Apple charge the prices it does for its computers and its crazy upgrade prices. If consumers checked how much 8 gigs of memory cost on NewEgg (40.00) ...they'd tell Apple to go screw themselves and then purchase the memory to install themselves.

    General consumers are typically lazy....they are PROGRAMMED to want things NOW and screw the cost or lack of real features. I don't think Toshiba is marketing to AnandTech users. I believe they are marketing to Apple fashionistias, Because their price point is less than Apple and they are most likely targeting those buyers who want something like an Apple airbook, but for less and with windows OS. Most of those users only check email and FaceBook.

    Regarding stickers......Simple solution is to remove the stickers after your purchase.
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    "Regarding stickers......Simple solution is to remove the stickers after your purchase."

    Easier said than done. I tried removing one sticker from my Toshiba Portege r700, but it was practically burned on. No amount of scratching with my fingernails gets it off, water doesn't help, it's like a hard plastic film that just won't come off. A heatgun is probably required, and I don't have one.
    Reply
  • tzhu07 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    True. Any time I have to Google how to remove something, I know that the original intention was for it not to be removed. Reply
  • Ushio01 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Use WD40 just a little bit sprayed on a paper towl and gently rubbed over the stickers removes them easily. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    They don't make it easy, but it's not impossible if it really bothers you.

    I know the GOOP adhesive remover is really good for getting the adhesive off once you remove the sticker. I've heard that cooking oil as well as well. I'd think twice before using anything that containes a chemical, but you can try WD-40 (suggested by Ushio01) at your own risk.

    You may want to try using a straight razor blade on the edge of the sticker to start the lifting process. Fingernails are just not thin enough. Patience is the key to accomplishing the removal without scaring your product.

    Best wishes.
    Reply
  • KineticHummus - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    I have the toshiba portege r835, the stickers came off NO problem. and ive heard its the same chassis too Reply
  • nubie - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Goo-gone is available at the "dollar tree" store locally. The hardware store has much larger bottles for under $4.

    There is also a felt tip pen version, which would probably be perfect for the laptop stickers.

    I didn't know about this product for years, but it will soften sticky things like magic.
    Reply

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