What We Think
There’s something nice about having a laptop that receives positive passed remarks and the Toshiba Z830-10T certainly does this. It’s one of the increasing numbers of ultra-portable laptops on the market and among the best, and has a price tag of just under £900.
The Intel i3 powered Toshiba is certainly a looker, but also functional, due to its 13.3inch screen and 4GB of RAM. Plenty of power considering it’s a mere 1.1kg in weight and only 16mm thick, placing it well within MacBook Air territory. Though unlike others, the magnesium alloy body of the Toshiba, is in no way a copy of Apple’s machine.
Though, it is its own distinct looking machine, it is not hindered and all the better for it. Its square, pointy corners, use of chrome and distinctive style certainly earned points with us. And it’s not all just about vacuous style; it feels great too. These corners can be a little sharp on the skin; however, the soft edged front area doesn’t pose any problems for working.
The magnesium alloy makes for a strong machine, especially considering its waif like slimness. We will admit the lid’s hinges are a little on the flexible side, though the underside of the machine is hard as well – magnesium alloy. Saying this the Toshiba weighs in at just 1.1kg, lighter than the Apple MacBook Air by 250g and the 1.4kg ASUS Zenbook. This makes it one of the most portable of all the portables – something of note.
Typing was quite good on the Toshiba, and we found the keys a little soft, but very responsive. The keyboard itself is black and the keys a matte style, which leave no marks. There’s no numeric pad, though there is Home, Page Up and Page Down buttons and all the keys are backlight, which aids typing at night and creates a sense of stylishness seen on more premium laptops. The keyboard is also spill-resistant, ensuring that an errand cup of coffee when working on the train won’t be the end of your precious ultra-portable. The touchpad, which is surrounded tastefully by chrome is also very responsive and at 85x80mm isn’t tiny, allowing for handling of multi-finger gestures with ease. Unfortunately, the mouse buttons do clack a little when pressed and let the side down a little.
Speakers were also unremarkable and quite typical for this size of laptop, with little bass, or excitement meaning you may invest in a pair of earphones. Even with a subwoofer below the chassis, we ended up far from blown away. Though, watching movies on a 13. 3inch screen is probably something you do in public and earphones will be required anyway.
At 13.3 inches, it’s a fine sized screen for an ultra-portable and offers 720p HD Ready images via the 1366x769p display. However, it’s a notably glossy screen and there is a very obvious amount of glare from the display in light because of this, which significantly limits the viewing angles.
As we mentioned before the screen is also a little flimsy physically, which does mean you aren’t confident about any heavy-handed adjustments of angle, which are often necessary due to glare. Contrast is weak and sitting off centre at all will mean images look drawn out and grey, we also noticed some ghosting, which just isn’t nice when playing games. There is also a 0.9mp frontal camera for all your video calls and other uses. So, compared to the very good ASUS Zenbook and even the MacBook Air, this screen is lacklustre, though how does it compare in performance terms?
Well, though the device is small, it uses quite powerful Intel i3 2367m Sandybridge technology, coming complete with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive. The excellent hyper threading capabilities of these chips, feature ensures the Toshiba has enough grunt to perform those everyday tasks and a little more. Though heavy gaming and complex video tasks are just beyond its station as it has no graphics card.
Like most ultra-portables, it’s certainly a very responsive machine and managed to come out of sleep within eight seconds, though isn’t as fast as the ASUS Zenbook. The machine goes from dead to start in 28 seconds, well within ultra-portable laptop requirements. The SSD disk means that transfer times of 33mbps are easily within range, far faster than any HDD, though slower than the ASUS’s 320GB SSD offering by 3mbps. Under pressure, the fan is audible from the vent on the back, though it was reasonably quiet.
In comparison to both the Zenbook and MacBook Air, the Toshiba is extremely well connected. With two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, SD reader, VGA, mini HDMI, headphone jacks, Ethernet port and a 802. 11n wireless connector it offers great port options for its size.
Of the Zenbook and the Macbook Air, the Toshiba performed enviably, and we got 205 minutes out of it in full on video mode, with power saving options turned off in our Battery Eater test. This was over 20 minutes longer than we got with the ASUS Zenbook, which is still good for its class. This ensures the Toshiba would have no problem spending a long day at work, without the need for some additional juice.
In conclusion, the Toshiba is not perfect, though it does certainly have its place in the world of ultra-portables. The computer looks unique and has a certain appeal. It’s decent performance and good keyboard, as well as its battery life and connectivity are great – but there are niggles.
We found the screen to offer a very average display, and also to be a little weak physically. It plays second fiddle to the ASUS Zenbook and the Apple MacBook in a number of performance areas, though it is lighter and furthermore slimmer, which will appeal to many. Overall, it’s a great-looking machine, with some creases to iron out and so will never be everyone’s first choice ultra-portable laptop.