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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  • Meegulthwarp - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    1st page, 3rd paragraph. Is Turbo Boosy the drunk abusive cousin of Turbo Boost? Cuz I rather quite like the name.
  • ciparis - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    That's what I get for editing in the engine. Though I'm not sure how I hit the "y" instead of "t" given I have a split keyboard. Probably being bad and typing with one hand or something.
  • Neptunian - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    192:1 contrast ratio and 40% of AdobeRGB ? Even my 12 year old eizo has better display quality.

    Also I don't get their obsession with the hideous sticker spammed all over the keyboard. Why is it only Apple that gets it?
  • gorash - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    They probably get paid some money to put stickers on there.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Apple doesn't do co-branding, ever. If you buy a Mac, it's all about Apple and you don't need to know whether it has an Intel or Motorola CPU, an ATI or NVIDIA GPU, or any other details. You also shouldn't know whether the SSD is a decent quality Samsung a much slower and lower quality Toshiba. And for all of that, you get to pay a price premium.

    At least Apple knows how to select a good quality LCD and build everything well, but again, that's part of the price premium. The interesting thing is that Intel defines a price to qualify as an ultrabook, and everyone cuts corners to get there and thus kills the screen quality. And in this instance, build quality as well.
  • Kougar - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    I am definitely sure "Turbo Boosy" exacerbates the issue!

    Not a bad ultrabook (if one can get past that cheap display), but I like the battery life on the Zenbook UX31 better. I'd can't stress enough that I'm willing to have a heavier machine if it meant more battery capacity... one criteria most ultrabooks aren't meeting. Regular laptops which have the room, or in some cases the battery capacity just fail to meet any of the criteria an ultrabook excels in.

    Notebook vendors are still swinging and missing that niche market...
  • frozentundra123456 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Honestly, I would prefer the dm1z at half the price. Saw it in best buy a long time ago, but it appears to have disappeared off the shelves.

    And it seems there is a dearth of netbook size devices using the E350, which seems an ideal chip for a small portable. At least in retail stores around here, what I see is Atom netbooks and E350 15.6 in laptops. Seems a mismatch for both. Why would anyone want atom over the E350 in a netbook, and if I am going to get a 15.6 in "full size" laptop, I either want Llano for the graphics and decent CPU performance, or an Intel i3 or i5 for better CPU performance.
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Go for the Thinkpad X121e instead. With TPFanControl it's nicely quiet and the only negative point is the horrible touchpad (can't really click with it). Otherwise it's almost perfect for such a small machine (can't expect a good screen at that price point).

  • 86waterpumper - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Since some think that 1600 is too large a resolution for 13 inch, and alot seem to agree that what most of them have now is pretty lame, why can't more of these ultrabooks have the same screen as the mackbook air, which has a 1440 x 900 resolution?

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