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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  • SoundsGood - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    >> why can't more of these ultrabooks have the same screen as the mackbook air, which has a 1440 x 900 resolution?

    I totally agree. That would be a great option.
  • peterfares - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    People who say the resolution is too large don't realize that Windows has the ability to scale. Just adjust the DPI to make everything bigger. When you increase the resolution and the DPI, things remain the same physical size but are made up of more pixels making them very clear. I used Sony's 1080p 13" Vaio Z at the Microsoft store with 150% scaling, and it looked amazing!
  • solipsism - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    "I could be completely blind and out of my depth here, but I just don't see the market an ultrabook serves"

    A recent report put the MBAs, only in 11" and 13" sizes, at 28% of all Mac notebook shipments. This is a category the average consumer cares about. Unfortunately for the non-Apple OEMS there customers expect a sweet spot about $300 less than the least expensive MBA. That's the problem when you spend years racing to the bottom, not one trusts when your products even if they are quality.

    It was years ago that Apple had more than 90% of the $1000 and up market so these companies need to make less expensive machines or rebrand themselves to show they are a premium company. They can start by removing crap like Intel Inside, MS Windows, Dell and HP stickers off their machines.
  • Torrijos - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    While this review is dandy, it would be nice to run the benchmarks on the MacBook Air running Windows, to have a baseline.

    Also, while more ports are always cool I kind of disagree with the disinterest towards Thunderbolt technology. Living with a laptop as a main computer, connecting the multitude of cables at home to dock it to external displays and storage unit gets old pretty quickly so the vision of a single cable connecting a TB display (with keyboard and mouse on the USBs) and a fast mass storage unit chained seems like a dream (but I'll be still waiting for USB3 on the display before I make a jump).
    It's a usage model that no other brand offers right now.
  • peterfares - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Have you heard of docks? They aren't yet available on Ultrabook models I don't believe, but they're even better than Thunderbolt. You just place your computer on the dock, you don't even have to line up and insert the thunderbolt and power cords.
  • Jamezrp - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    4th paragraph from the bottom, end of the second sentence. Not a big deal...I laughed because it sounds like a cheesy, corny cute name to give Intel's Turbo Boost.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Just a typo from the editor; actually, Dustin called it "turbo core" so I tried to fix it and apparently hit the wrong key for the "t". Not sure which is worse, though. :p
  • fpink3 - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    D Sklavos says: "I don't think the keyboard is a lost cause, but it definitely needs to be revised. Layout is fine, just fix the overall size and quality. The chassis has room for both."

    "Just fix the ..quality"? Who is D Sklavos talking to? Let me know how the keyboard will perform if I bought the product.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Great review as always, but I was wondering if you could make comparison photos of products where size is a big feature. Stick a coke cola can or a DVD case next to it and then photograph. It would make it easier to judge the size. :-)
  • EthanW - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Is it just me, or does this look scarily similar to the Portege R200?

    As seen here:

    Good to see they had the sense to stick with proper trackpad buttons. :D

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