Toshiba Portégé Z830-104 review
Its full-size ports and backlit keyboard make Toshiba's Ultrabook stand out from the crowd, but it’s not enough to make the Portégé our Ultrabook of choice
Review Date: 7 Dec 2011
Price when reviewed: £1,097
Reviewed By: Tom Morgan
Toshiba isn’t trying to compete directly with Asus and Apple with its Portégé Ultrabook – instead of concentrating solely on styling and hyper-slim dimensions, the company has added a dash of practicality with full-size ports, a matte-finish screen and a backlit keyboard.
The Asus ZenBook UX31, for example, has mini-HDMI and mini-VGA video outputs plus Ethernet via USB, so you need to carry the supplied adaptors to connect to video and wired network devices. The Portégé Z830-104 has full-size ports at the back of the chassis. This makes it one of the chunkier Ultrabooks we’ve seen – though at 16mm at its thickest point it’s still incredibly slim, though not quite as svelte overall as the tapered ZenBook. There are also two USB ports, one USB3 port and 3.5mm audio input and outputs, so the increase in size is well justified. The laptop's aluminium chassis keeps the weight down to a tiny 1.1kg, so light you'll barely notice it's in your bag. As with the MacBook Air we had occasional bouts of panic when we thought we'd left it at the office, only to find it in our bag all along.
The 13.3in screen has a matt finish, which helps reduce glare from sunlight or overhead lighting – and colours look slightly muted as a result. Horizontal and vertical viewing angles aren't particularly wide, but there’s more than enough screen tilt to find the right angle no matter how you prefer to work. The 1,366x768 resolution is high enough to work on two documents side by side.
Typing on the full-size keyboard was comfortable enough, even though the keys had very little travel – their springy actions meant they bounced back quickly after being pressed, but we were sometimes left wondering if our presses had registered. There’s plenty of space around each key and all the punctuation keys are where you would expect them.
Even with such generous keyboard dimensions, Toshiba has still managed to fit a reasonably-sized touchpad beneath it. The smooth plastic finish creates a minimal amount of friction, so we had no trouble navigating the desktop, but would have preferred the fingerprint reader to have been placed somewhere other than between the two touchpad buttons. The reader's position means the touchpad buttons are barely wider than your thumb, which can make dragging files and folders a little difficult. If you want to use a separate mouse there's a button to disable the entire touchpad.
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