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
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)
AC adaptor
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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  • inighthawki - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Depends on the kind of work. I do a lot of programming, and as a result, tiling two coding windows side by side in visual studio works wonderfully on a widescreen display, but not so much on a full screen display.
  • uhuznaa - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I would really like to see some statistics how old people are who buy such things and how their eyesight is. 1600x900 on 13.3" with no way to adjust the OS to it means that everything you want to read and click on the screen becomes that small that working with it for many hours a day becomes a strain. Yeah, you can cram more content and toolbars and icons onto the screen, but this comes with a price.

    I know more than enough "normal" users who think that such many pixels are even too much to be comfortable on 19" desktop displays and run them with non-native resolutions just to get comfortable UI sizes. Especially since they just have no need for 1600 horizontal pixels since they run everything full-screen anyway.
  • retrospooty - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    "1600x900 on 13.3" with no way to adjust the OS to it means that everything you want to read and click on the screen becomes that small"

    Win7 click start>control panel>display and set it from 100 to 125 or even 150% if you are really blind.
  • SoundsGood - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    >> Win7 click start>control panel>display and set it from 100 to 125 or even 150% if you are really blind.

    That's fine if you *only* use the laptop's screen. But not so great for those of us that often use an external monitor. It means always switching back and forth between 125 DPI and 100 DPI... which is NOT fun.
  • Filiprino - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    It's a non-issue. Sony has the Vaio Z with 1080p on it's 13 inch screen. That's a real problem.
    But 1600x900 on 13 inches it's not a problem. I've got a 15,6 inch laptop with full hd screen and it's really nice. Not only because you can have more things being displayed, but also for things that were traditionally huge now they aren't.

    And of course, more resolution benefits productivity.
  • peterfares - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Sony's screen is wonderful. I used the Vaio Z with a 1080p screen at the Microsoft store. The DPI was set to 150% so everything appeared the normal size for a 13" computer, but everything was SO CLEAR. It was awesome. I really want one, but they're very expensive!
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    For me 1366x768 is borderline uncomfortable on 11.6". So I guess I wouldn't want more than 1400x900 at 13.3".

  • peterfares - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    You can increase the DPI setting which makes everything bigger but sharper than a standard resolution display.
  • peterfares - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Windows 7 has great scaling capabilities. The whole OS has higher resolution graphics for when you increase the DPI setting. Third party support is not quite there yet, but things just get blown up to make them bigger. Not that annoying when the DPI is high enough.
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I'm going to go further than this: They need to offer it in 16:10, not 16:9 as you suggest is OK.

    How about 1680x1050, laptop makers :3

    Look at the retarded huge bezel below and above the screen. This is getting out of hand. 16:9 is a terrible ratio for computing, but because the screens are getting spat out cheaply, this is what we get.

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